These breeds of dogs are very popular and include breeds like Boxers, Pugs, and Pekinese but there are many others and mixes that are Brachycephalic (short muzzles). This physical trait can be detrimental for a few reasons, one of which is heat, especially when accompanied by high humidity levels.
These dogs are simply not good at panting to cool themselves. Dogs cool themselves in the same way that evaporative coolers work when they are panting. Brachycephalic dogs have far more difficulty with this because their airway is shortened into an airway that is a cramped maze. This is why they snort and make gurgling sounds at times. They truly have difficulty breathing.
In fact, their breathing ability is so bad, they actually turn to mouth-breathing most of the time and they still don’t move the air that a normal dog does. This inhibits their ability to naturally cool their body in the summer heat, which can be life-threatening to them.
Exercising A Brachycephalic Dog In Summer
It’s best to stick to walks in the early morning and late evening, never take them when the sun is in the sky during the heat of the day. They can become overwhelmed and suffer from heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
The brachycephalic dogs have an excess of soft tissue in the rear and roof of the mouth that causes a blockage that makes it very difficult to get air into the lungs. Some dogs that love to play fetch go outside and do so, no matter what time of day it is or how hot they are. They can, and often will, run themselves until they have a heatstroke. You have to be the one with their best interests in mind. Stop them before they over-do. Don’t allow them to get overly hot.
Signs of getting too hot are excessive panting, gasping for air or gurgling loudly, a red tongue that widens as it tries to cool the blood flow in the body by exposing it to air, red gums and lining in the mouth, and red inner ears. Their body temperature can rise to dangerous levels that lead to seizures, brain swelling, and death.
Give them a small pool filled with clean, freshwater that they can lay in. Let them play in water so they can cool their body down and get some exercise with splashing around. Be aware that dogs can get a sunburn, especially if they are fair in color and short-haired. You also will want to treat the water with something to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs over the summer or dump it out every couple of days.
Saving a Brachycephalic Dog From HeatStroke
It is imperative that you lower their body temperature as quickly as possible. Submerge them in cool water and pack them with ice if possible. Keep bottles of water frozen in the freezer for accidents and injuries. This will come in handy if your dog overheats.
If they fall from heat exhaustion, carry them to shade as quickly as possible. Use frozen water bottles to pack on their inner thighs so that the blood pumping through the femoral artery is cooled as quickly as possible. This circulates through their body with each heartbeat, cooling them rapidly.
Wrap them in wet towels and transport them to an emergency veterinary clinic as quickly as you can. They will need fluids and the staff there may submerge them into an ice-water-filled tank.
The temperature can be so high for them that their internal organs will breakdown and cause damage that is permanent and life-threatening. Seizures also raise the internal body temperature, so this is a deadly combination that becomes a sort of perfect storm that leads to severe consequences.
Prevention Is the Best Policy
It’s best for you to supervise your short-snouted dogs carefully. Don’t let them stay outside too long, run too long, and get hot. Have everything you need, just in case, to cool them down rapidly.
Do the exercising outside in the cooler times of the day. Understand that older dogs are often more susceptible to the issues of brachycephaly but it can strike any short-snouted dog at any age. Check Tin dog for loads of information on ways to prevent overheating and making their life easier.
Your dog will do best in an environment that has air conditioning in summer, or milder temperatures year-round. They don’t make good ‘outside-only’ dogs. Most brachycephalic breeds were strictly bred as companion animals and prefer being indoors and on your lap or close to you. They were popularized due to the human-like faces that have so much expression.
Some of these dogs have long fur while others are very short-haired. It doesn’t matter, they’ll both get overheated easily. Having their long fur clipped may not be the best thing for them as some dogs benefit from their fur insulating their body from the heat. Speak to your veterinarian for their suggestions on ways to keep your short-nosed dog safe and comfortable all summer long.
Their basic needs are the same as all other dogs, but be extra careful that they have a cool place to lay, plenty of fresh drinking water, and very little exercise during the heat of the day. Remember that for them, it feels like trying to breathe with a swollen throat, while someone is also holding your nose shut. No fun at all.
These breeds are also often plagued by issues with allergies that make their situations even worse. You may hear a rattle in their chest from time to time and it is highly likely that they will snore loudly when they sleep. Be watchful of them and take care to do what is best for them because they don’t understand how their play and running might make them worse.
It’s advisable to take their collar off inside the house and make sure that you walk them with a harness because they are mouth-breathers who don’t need one more way of impeding their air supply. Pulling against a collar may be too much for them and block their ability to breathe, causing more overheating in hot weather.
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