Believe it or not, summer is coming. Yes, it won’t be long before we’re all complaining it’s too hot. Personally, I can’t wait.

As dog owners, we’ve all heard the seasonal warnings about dogs in the summer heat:

  • Make sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water.
  • Make sure they have shade.
  • Never leave them in a car, it acts like an oven and becomes dangerous long before the temperatures feel “hot” outside the car.
  • Never walk them on blacktop or concrete that’s too hot, their paw pads will burn and blister.
    • How do you know if it is too hot? Hold the back of your hand flat against the surface, if it’s too hot to leave it there for at least 5 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog on it.
  • Know, and watch for, signs of heat stroke.

Heat and the brachycephalic dog

PugWhat is a brachycephalic dog, you ask? Well, they’re dogs that look like they have been chasing parked cars. No, seriously, brachycephalic dogs have “smushed” faces. Bulldogs, boxers, pugs, French bulldogs, Pekingese, Caviler King Charles Spaniels and Boston Terriers are just a few of the breeds that have this shaped face. These dogs have a huge disadvantage when it comes to breathing in the hot,  humid weather.

Dogs only have sweat glands where there is no fur, such as the nose and paw pads. The only way they can cool their bodies is to pant. Brachycephalic dogs have several factors that keep them from panting efficiently, thereby limiting their ability to cool off. Because of the shape of their faces, and their soft elongated palates, airflow to the lungs is greatly reduced, resulting in oxygen deprivation and carbon dioxide buildup. This leads to heat stroke and other respiratory problems. These dogs have special needs, especially in warm weather.

  • Never leave these dogs outside when it’s hot. Let them go out only long enough to do their business. It can take as little as 20 minutes for a brachycephalic dog to succumb to heat.
  • Use a harness. Brachycephalic dogs already have airway issues, putting tension on a collar around their necks will only make things worse.
  • If they need to be outside for a short period of time, make sure to take things slow. Young dogs especially can over do it before they realize they are in trouble.

Information on brachycephalic dogs, heat stroke in dogs and dogs’ health in the summer: