As Australia swelters through some of the hottest weather on record, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is warning owners that the summer months can take a toll on dogs, with some breeds more vulnerable than others.
AVA spokesperson Dr David Neck said that dogs are at a higher risk of suffering from heat stress or heat stroke, particularly those with extreme features and breathing difficulties.
“Heat stress and heat stroke is particularly common in brachycephalic breeds, such as English and French bulldogs as well as pugs. These types of dogs have been bred to have exaggerated features, including a very short muzzle,” he said. “Unfortunately, this particular feature leads to—among other things—breathing difficulties, which only worsen in hotter temperatures.”
Dr Neck further noted that the popularity of these breeds has risen significantly over the years and that in many cases, owners have been forced to invest in medical management and/or surgery to address the discomfort their dog experiences with breathing.
“The last thing we want to see is dogs suffering unnecessarily simply because they have been bred to look a certain way,” Dr Neck said, adding that all dogs regardless of their breed are prone to heat stress and heat stroke during a heatwave.
Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, fatigue, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and even seizures.
“If your dog displays any of these signs, you should speak to their vet as soon as possible,” Dr Neck advised. “Ensure there is cool fresh water at all times and leave it in a shady area—you might even want to put a few ice cubes in to help keep the water cold. If you don’t have air-conditioning, leave a fan on and giving your dog a trim, especially if it has longer hair.”
The AVA and the RSPCA have launched the Love Is Blind campaign to raise awareness about the health and welfare problems caused by exaggerated features.
Based on a media release sourced from the AVA.