Warm Weather Safety for Flat-Faced Pets

flat-faced dogThe long summer months seem to take a toll on everyone – pets included. However, for some animals, hot, humid weather is particularly perilous.

Brachycephalic breeds, or flat-faced pets, are at a greater risk for heat-related conditions due to their physical characteristics. If you own a pet and especially a brachy as they’re affectionately called, take a moment to learn how to keep him or her cool, comfortable, and – most importantly – safe.

Why Flat-Faced Pets are More Susceptible

Brachycephalic animals include Bulldogs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Persian cats. The very traits that make these flat-faced pets so adorable are also the traits that affect airflow and temperature regulation.

Physical challenges include shortened tracheas, small nostrils, and a build-up of bone and tissue that blocks the airways. Together, these conditions are referred to as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.

Since animals pant to keep themselves cool, flat-faced pets are more prone to conditions such as heat stress and heat stroke.

Help Your Pet Stay Cool

Given their physical limitations, certain precautions should be taken before exposing flat-faced pets or indeed any pet to warmer temps. We recommend the following:

  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Overweight or obese pets are more affected by heat and respiratory problems.
  • Exercise indoors or only outside during cool morning hours.
  • Know the signs of heatstroke or heat distress.
  • Supervise your pet at all times outdoors.
  • Keep lots of cool, clean water on hand. This can be for drinking and for wetting your pet down should he or she become too hot.
  • Avoid strenuous activities that can lead to breathing difficulties.
  • Keep your pet’s living area cool with air conditioning, fans, and shades to block out the hot sun.

For some flat-faced pets, surgery has proven beneficial. To discuss your options, please contact the team at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital.

What to do During an Emergency

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Breathing difficulty, labored breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Imbalance or disorientation
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Collapse

If your pet becomes stressed by the heat, cool him or her down by pouring water over the torso or using wet towels to lower body temperature. Do not use ice water, as cold water can actually cause additional harm. Place your pet in front of a fan, and call our hospital immediately for additional instructions.

While outdoor recreation is a great way to exercise your pet, it’s important to take extra care when it comes to our heat-sensitive brachycephalic friends. We encourage you to contact us with additional questions or concerns.