Bulldogs and hot weather
Bulldogs and hot weather—a true oxymoron. The two really don’t do well together do they? What’s the deal? Why do other breeds tolerate heat a lot better? It all has to do with the shape of their skulls and the soft tissues within those skulls. Firstly, all dogs have poor thermoregulatory systems. They don’t have the sweat glands like humans do. They only sweat in between their toes. They must get rid of excess heat by panting-breathing out air across a big tongue. More efficient breeds like the sighthounds- Greyhounds, Whippets, Borzois, etc., or some working breeds-Dobermans, etc., have long skulls with soft tissues more evenly distributed in the skull making it easier to ventilate air (and heat) in and out of the chest. This allows for, at least, some better dissipation of body heat away from the dog. Bulldogs (and the other brachycephalics-shortened skull) don’t have that luxury and are even more poorly adapted to dissipate heat away from their bodies. Add to that their lack of physical athleticism and you have a recipe for a heat disaster, IF YOU ARE NOT CAREFUL!
You can keep your bulldog safe in hot weather if you follow a few simple steps. One, don’t take your bulldog out in the direct hot sun on warm/hot days with temps over 85 degrees. When taking them out to empty their bowels or bladder, do so first thing in the morning, before 7-8 AM. For daily exercise, do so in the predawn hour of 5-6 AM at the coolest part of the day. Even at 8-9 PM you’ll still have too much residual heat from daytime hours.
To make sure your home and car air conditioning is in good working order. Even the best conditioned bulldogs (including our show dogs) can’t handle the really hot temps for more than an hour (or less).
Ice- keep plenty on hand in the home freezer or in an ice chest for the car. Ice can save your dog’s life!
Spray bottles and hand towels- fill your spray bottle with ice cubes and water to “mist” your dog while outside. Soak the hand towel (or even two) in ice water and wrap it around the dog’s head and body to reduce core body temps.
Lemon juice- this is an old bulldogger remedy for cutting the thick saliva mucus and phlegm which accumulates in the mouth and throat and blocking the airway, when hot bulldogs pant excessively. A couple of squirts of lemon juice straight into the mouth can clear that thick phlegm and allow air to be ventilated. Every grocery store has those little plastic lemons filled with juice. Take one with you on every trip.
Heat Stroke- this is a devastating syndrome that occurs when core body temps exceed 106 degrees (normal temp is 100-102 degrees. The body cannot handle these temperatures and serious life threatening things start to happen. Severe brain damage occurs during heat stroke. Blood clots and irreversible bleeding can occur. Most animals go unconscious and coma is common. There can be damage to heart muscle cells. If one is to save the dog from heat stroke, time is of the absolute essence. The dog must be cooled quickly and very carefully. They must be put on IV fluids and several medicines
must be given to protect the brain. Even with all this, there is a chance the dog will not recover.