Heat Stroke is a very real concern for French Bulldog’s because of their shortened airway, they are less likely to cool themselves down quickly. Excessive panting can lead to swelling and cutting off the ability to breathe in addition to the damage that can arise from their internal body temperature being too high. Signs of heat stroke include:
• Excessive panting
• The skin on the inside of the ears becomes flushed and red
• Fainting – loss of consciousness or seizures
• Diarrhea and/or vomiting
• Rapid heartbeat
Heat stroke is an emergency situation and you need to get your Frenchie to the vet immediately. However, there are some things you can do until you are able to reach veterinary care. Every second counts. Get your dog out of direct sunlight and into an area with air circulation.
• DO NOT try to force your dog to drink. Swelling airways can cause any liquid to be regurgitated and possibly aspirated into the lungs.
• Hose the dog down with cool water – not cold.
• Apply an ice pack wrapped in a wet towel to the dog’s head, and soaked towels or any other form of fabric to their body. Do not leave towels on as they can warm up and actually trap heat next to the body. Air circulation is a vital part of the cool down process.
• Apply rubbing alcohol to the pads of the feet.
• If at all possible, get him/her into a tub of cool water — again, cool – not cold!
• If none of this is working, a cool water enema can help to cool the dog internally. Be careful not to induce too rapidly, or with water cooler than a few degrees below body temp, or you can put your dog into serious shock.
As your dog is panting, his airways are swelling, causing him to pant harder yet again. You need to break this cycle. Children’s allergy treatment Benadryl can be administered by mouth from a dropper. Consult your vet in advance, or by phone if necessary, for exact dosage. Better still is to obtain a supply of injectible Benadryl to keep on hand.
Do not stop treatment until your dog’s body temperature is approaching normal. Watch for 104 or 103.5 degrees. It is important to monitor the temperature because a drop that is too rapid can shock their system. Try and remain calm and keep the temperature drop going steadily but not super fast. Normal temperature is between 101 and 10 degrees.
As soon as the dog’s internal temperature has stabilized at a near normal level transport the dog to your vet. Heat stroke can leave permanent damage.
Many dogs will play until they drop. You must supervise the games, and determine when it is time to stop. During hot or humid weather limit your dog’s time outside. Be sure that there is a shaded area for your dog to rest in and that your dog has a constant supply of clean water.
Never, EVER underestimate your dog’s susceptibility to heat stroke. Limit their exposure to temperatures which you might personally find only mildly hot, be conscious of your dog’s proximity to hot pavement, NEVER leave your Frenchie in a car, even in warm weather, and always allow them lots of access to fresh water, shade, and cool areas to escape from heat. Be alert, and be prepared with the things you need to save your dog’s life.
The following is a suggested checklist for summer living with Frenchies and other Brachycephalic breeds:
• Children’s liquid Benadryl and dosage from vet
• Digital thermometer
• Rubbing alcohol
• Bottled water
• Clean enema bag
• Clean towels to soak in water
• Cooling pads and/or cool coats
• Access to shade
• Your vet’s phone number, and the number of the nearest 24 hour emergency vet
Most of all, always make sure your dog has access to a cool shaded area, and NEVER leave them in the car, even in weather which is only fairly warm. Frenchies can over heat in an instant!