Tuesday, June 10, 2008

bulldog overheating

I need to remember this, because I think Matilda began overheating on a walk across campus yesterday:


Hot weather can be fatal to a Bulldog: they don’t even need to be moving about in it. It is essential that we prevent problems from too much sun or heat. Do not leave your dog in an enclosed car in the summertime. Provide shade at all times. The best idea is to keep them inside the house for the most part during the hot summer months. Exercise should be kept at the dog's pace, not necessarily your own. There are several ways of keeping down heat with Bulldogs: wet towel under your dog's toes, ice cubes in the drinking water, sponging off your dog, lemon juice. All short-nosed breeds should be constantly watched to see that they are breathing easily and that they are taking in enough water to prevent dehydration. Far too many dogs are lost from dehydration, heat or sun stroke, and suffocation, when a few precautions could have been taken to prevent death.

Bulldogs overheat quickly because of the shape of their throats--their soft palates are almost always too long and when they get very hot they cannot pant sufficiently to keep their body temperature down. Their attempts to pant quickly cause the production of foam which in turn blocks the throat and causes labored breathing; eventually they will begin to roar as they try to breathe through the blockage. Lemon juice squeezed directly into the back of the mouth is helpful in cutting it, or use your fingers to scoop it out. Always keep the throat clear. Brain damage or death may result if a Bulldog is stricken, so watch your Bulldog.

Stages of overheating:

  1. Your bulldog will begin to "heave" as he pants.
  2. Your bulldog will begin to "roar" - best described as sounding like severe asthma.
  3. He will begin to look tired and distressed.
  4. His tongue will be very floppy and very red in color.
  5. His body temperature will rise (normal temp approx 102 F).
  6. His airway will swell and his throat become full of white foam (because of the panting).
  7. He will quickly become exhausted and will fighting for breath.
  8. He could die.

How to prevent overheating:

  1. Do not allow your bulldog to lay out in the day time sunshine.
  2. Do not walk your bulldog in hot weather.
  3. During hot weather keep your bulldog inside during the hottest part of the day.

How to deal with overheating:

  • Lower his body temperature: Always ensure that you have ice to hand during the summer months. Pour cold water over your dog, especially around his head, rub ice around his head and under his tail (around his rectum). If possible stand him in a cold bath and keep going with the ice until the breathing is less labored.
  • Clear the airway: Squirt some lemon juice (from one of those plastic lemon shaped bottles that you squirt on your pancakes) into the back of his throat, he will hate you for it, but the lemon juice will quickly break up the excess foam and clear the throat. Do not allow him to drink a lot of water as this can cause him to vomit.
  • Keep him calm: Once you have reduced his panic keep him in a quiet place and keep a close eye on him. Talk to him with a soft voice.
  • If this doesn’t work then you need to get to a vet as quickly as possible. Put a cold damp towel under him for the journey.