Heat Stroke In French Bulldogs

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

All Frenchies, no matter how well they breath, or how active or healthy they are, are at risk from heat stroke. Due to their smushed faces, they typically have a hard time breathing and regulating their body temperatures.

What are the danger signs a dog is suffering from heatstroke?

1. Excessive panting or difficulty breathing. If your dog is panting constantly or faster than normal (hyperventilation), they could be overheated. Dogs with flat faces like pugs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion because they cannot pant as efficiently.

2. Dehydration. Signs of dehydration include dry nose, visible tiredness, excessive panting, and sunken eyes.

3. Excessive drooling. Keep an eye out for lots of drool, or drool that is thicker and stickier than usual.

4. Fever. If your dog’s nose is dry and hot instead of wet and cool, they could have a fever. A body temperature above 103°F is considered abnormal.

5Bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums. If your dog’s gums are a different color than normal, they could be dehydrated.

6Lack of urine. If your pet has trouble producing urine, they could be dehydrated or overheated.

7. Rapid pulse. The easiest way to take your dog’s pulse is to place your hand on their chest near their front elbow joint. If their pulse seems elevated, they could be overheated. (Normal pulse rate depends on the size of your dog—bigger dogs tend to have slower pulses, while small dogs and puppies have very quick pulses.)

8. Muscle tremors. If your dog is shivering or shaking regardless of outside temperature, it may be caused by heat exhaustion.

9. Lethargy or weakness. Overheating can cause dogs to nap more than normal or having trouble standing up or walking.

10. Vomiting or diarrhea. Abnormally soft stool, or stool with blood in it, is a big warning sign for heat exhaustion.

11. Dizziness. If your dog seems to have trouble walking in a straight line or keeps bumping into furniture, they might be lightheaded from dehydration or heat exhaustion.

These are the most common and easily detectable symptoms of heat exhaustion, but there are many more. If your dog is acting at all sick, tired, or otherwise abnormal during the hot summer months, don’t ignore it!

How to Safely Cool Down Your Dog 

It's important to carefully lower your dog's body temperature. Rapid cooling can cause even more problems.

  • First, move your dog out of the heat and into a cool, shady area that is well-ventilated.

  • Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog's mouth. Try not to let your dog drink excessive amounts at a time or he may start vomiting.

  • Take your dog's temperature rectally. Continue to recheck it every five minutes to prevent overcooling. Do not take the following steps if your dog's temperature is under 104°F.(40°C)

  • Begin cooling your dog's body using cool but not extremely cold water. You may place wet rags or washcloths on the footpads, around the head, on the abdomen, and in the armpits. Replace the cool towels frequently as they warm up. Avoid fully covering the body with wet towels as it may trap in heat. You can use a fan to help provide cool air.

  • DO NOT use ice or ice water. Extreme cold can cause blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to rise further. Over-cooling can also cause hypothermia (low body temperature) leading to a host of new problems. 

  • When the body temperature reaches 103.9°F (39.9°C), stop cooling. At this point, your dog's body should continue cooling on its own. If you keep trying to cool your dog, you risk hyperthermia.

  • Visit a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye, so an examination is necessary. Further testing may be recommended to assess damage.

How to prevent heatstroke

  • Under no circumstances, do not leave your dog in a parked car on a warm day. Even at mild temperatures, this can cause your dog to warm up in as little as 15 minutes. Simply leaving the window ajar will not compensate to prevent your dog from overheating. Sadly, dogs have died being left in a hot car.

  • If you can’t hold your hand on tarmac for seven seconds, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. It is best to walk your dog early in the morning or later at night once the sun has gone down. Doing so can also help protect your dog’s paws so the pavement isn’t too hot for them to walk on

  • Walk your dog in shaded areas

  • Apply pet-friendly suntan lotion to areas of their body where the skin is more exposed (your dog’s ears, belly, nose)

  • Always provide fresh drinking water, ideally cool drinking water

  • Pour and rub cool water into your dog’s paws to reduce their body temperature

  • Avoid travelling with your dog on long car journeys when it’s warm to prevent your pet from sitting in a hot vehicle for an extended period. If you do have to travel, if possible put the air conditioning on and so it doesn’t blow in your dog’s face

  • Provide plenty of shaded areas for your dog if they are out in the garden


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