Hot Weather and the Risk to Brachycephalic Dogs
Who doesn’t love a sweet, smooshed-face dog full of wrinkles and squishy hug-ability? The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital certainly adore them! Brachycephalic pets, or brachys, include all those adorable flat-nosed animals whose popularity has exploded over the past few decades.
From pugs to bulldogs, we love our brachycephalic dogs…but they do come with some extra care requirements. Hot weather can be brutal for all animals, but when it comes to brachys, it can be even more insidious.
The Anatomy of a Brachy
Brachycephalic dog breeds include:
- Lhasa Apsos
- Shih Tsus
- Chow Chows
- Boston terriers
For those with a short-nosed or flat-faced pet, it comes as no surprise that respiratory challenges are the primary concern for these pets.
This is because of their anatomical traits, which they were specifically bred for:
Narrow nostrils – Brachycephalic pets have small nostrils, which make it difficult to pull air through.
Elongated palette – The tissue between the nose and mouth is longer in brachys, which results in some of the snoring, snorting sounds commonly heard from them.
Narrow trachea – A narrow trachea makes it particularly difficult for brachys to pant, which is the primary mechanism for releasing heat and moisture from the body to regulate temperature.
Fatty tissue in the larynx – Brachys also have extra tissue in the larynx that often needs to be surgically removed.
All of these factors lead to certain health challenges for which brachy lovers must be prepared. Heatstroke and heat-related illnesses are especially deadly for these pets because they’re unable to cool themselves off as efficiently as other animals.
How to Protect Brachycephalic Dogs
Keeping your pet comfortable is the name of the game, and that requires attention to heat safety:
- Avoid outdoor walks or playtime when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.
- Keep your home shaded and cool for your brachy – including the use of fans and/or air conditioning.
- Limit rigorous activity and opt for more gentle forms of exercise, such as a shaded walk or a romp through a backyard sprinkler.
- Use a harness instead of a leash collar for better respiration.
- Bring water everywhere you go – and mist your pet with a spray bottle to keep him or her cool.
- Pay attention to your pet and take note of increased snorting, wheezing, or other signs of distress.
- Speak with your veterinarian about exercise options for your brachy.
From their wiggly jowls to their upturned snouts, brachycephalic dogs have captured our hearts. It’s up to us, however, to be alert to heat distress in our fur pals. For more questions about how you can better care for your brachy during the hot months, please call the team at Naperville Animal Hospital.
Stay cool out there!
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