Keeping Flat-Faced Pets Safe in Hot Weather

Boston TerrierIf you’re the proud owner of a brachycephalic breed, you probably adore the unique features of your pug, Boston terrier, Persian cat, or Shih Tzu (to name a few distinctive breeds). To be sure, they’re adorable, but the same endearing characteristics can also lead to serious health issues. This is true year round, but high temperatures and humidity make this time of year especially hard for many flat-faced pets.

The Anatomy

Respiratory issues are caused by the characteristic facial bones and nasal structure of brachycephalic breeds. Other challenges stem from short tracheas, smaller nostrils, and excessive bone and tissue that block airways. Combined, these physical traits result in Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.

Left untreated or ignored, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome can compromise regular breathing, affecting the heart and other structures in the airway. Surgery is often considered in order to improve respiration. We’re happy to discuss this with you during your pet’s next wellness visit.

The Skinny on Heat

On a hot day, a brachycephalic pet will instinctively pant as an attempt to regulate body temperature. However, due to respiratory limitations, flat-faced pets are at an increased risk of overheating and heatstroke.

Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital is available for 24/7 emergency care. Heatstroke, which is one of the most common conditions we treat, can be life-threatening if not addressed immediately. Please do not ignore these symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Laborious breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Collapse

Helping Flat-Faced Pets

Pets of all ages, sizes, and breeds should be protected from the elements. As a result of challenges facing brachycephalic animals, extra precautions should be taken. To protect flat-faced pets, we advise the following:

  • Exercise should take place during the early morning or evening hours; strenuous activities should be limited.
  • Always use a properly fitted harness instead of a leash and collar.
  • Help your pet maintain a healthy weight.
  • Cool, fresh water should be on hand at all times.
  • Spritz your pet’s coat with water to help keep him or her cool.
  • Use an air conditioner or fans to keep your home at a reasonable temperature.
  • Minimize stress and anxiety for your flat-faced pet.
  • Monitor your pet’s behavior closely.
  • Respond quickly to possible health concerns.

Protect and Prevent

Heat waves are no fun, but they can be downright tragic for brachycephalic breeds. Keeping your flat-faced pet safe is a top priority, and you can rely on our team to address all your questions and concerns. Have fun and stay cool this summer!