It's time to crank the air-conditioning for flat-faced dogs such as the Pug, French Bulldog and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
These dogs (known as Brachycephalic breeds) are not very well designed for our hot summer months and are very susceptible to heat stress.Dogs are not able to sweat like humans and they rely heavily on panting to regulate their body temperature. Brachycephalic dogs have shorter muzzles and as a result, air-flow is restricted in and out of their mouth. This essentially makes it harder for them to effectively exchange hot air for cool, and they can easily overheat.
Brachycephalic dogs can be quite variable in terms of the degree of shortness of their muzzles and this means that some brachycephalic dogs will cope relatively well in the heat but others may find even a slight increase in temperature a challenge. Some of these dogs also have narrow nostrils (nares) making it even harder to draw in air to pant, putting them at greater risk of heat exhaustion.
HOW TO KEEP THESE DOGS SAFE
- Know the signs of heat stress
- Provide a cool environment for these dogs at all times and never leave them outside in the heat
- Keep airflow up with fans and preferably keep them in air conditioning
- Never exercise them in the middle of the day and skip exercise all together on extremely hot or humid days
- Avoid trips in the car unless absolutely necessary and never leave your dog unattended in a car even on a mild day
- Provide a shallow wading pool and frozen treat ice blocks to help keep them cool
- Keep your dog's weight under control as obesity can increase the risk of overheating
Some Brachycephalic dogs will benefit from corrective surgery to improve airflow through the back of the mouth and nostrils. The earlier this surgery is performed on these dogs the better and you should ask your vet for the best advice.