English Bulldogs and Heatstroke: 10 Ways to Prevent Your Bulldog From Getting Heatstroke

During the summertime most people like to be out and about enjoying the nice weather. There is nothing better than going to a park, beach, or lake to relax in the sun when the weather is warm. And if you’re a dog owner, what can be better than doing those things with your cuddly partner in crime by your side!

If you are an English bulldog owner though, think twice before you take your dog to a hot environment, since high temperatures can put your bulldog at significant risk of getting heat stroke. This may have you wondering, why do English bulldogs get heat strokes?

English bulldogs get heatstroke because they have a hard time cooling themselves down. Bulldogs, like all dogs, cool themselves down by panting. But since bulldogs are brachycephalic (short muzzled), they are less efficient at breathing out hot air and breathing in cool air.

English bulldogs and heatstroke

Ollie the bulldog puppy sunbathing

Heatstroke occurs when your dog is exposed to high temperatures and its body begins to overheat. It can have serious health consequences and may even be fatal in some instances. Symptoms of heatstroke in your dog include internal body temperatures in excess of 104ºF, heavy panting, unresponsiveness from passing out, and excessive drooling, among other signs. If you suspect your bulldog is experiencing heat stroke contact a veterinarian immediately.

Some of the more serious and deadly side effects of heatstroke include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Liver damage
  • Brain swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Kidney failure

Pay close attention to your English bulldog when it’s hot out and you may be able to spot a heat stroke before it causes serious damage. You can also take precautions to prevent your beloved English bulldog from suffering heatstroke.

10 effective ways to prevent heat stroke in English bulldogs

During the summer, bulldogs are more likely to have heatstroke due to the elevated temperature, which causes your dog’s internal temperature to rise, leading to heatstroke. You should be more aware and take extra precautions to prevent heatstroke during the hotter summer days. Prevention is by far the best defense against heatstroke in English bulldogs. Here are ten effective ways to help prevent heatstroke in your bulldog:

1. During hot days be sure to provide you English bulldog with adequate water

It’s important to give your bulldog enough water, especially on hot days, as dehydration plays a key role in developing heatstroke. Cool water will help prevent your bulldog from overheating, so consider adding ice cubes to your furry friend’s water bowl, so that they’re drinking refreshing, cool water. Make sure to provide your bulldog with water frequently throughout the day to keep them happy and hydrated.

2. Never leave your English bulldog in the car with the windows closed

It may seem harmless to leave your bulldog in the car for a few minutes while you pop in the store, but this can be fatal for your dog, especially if you close the car windows.

We recommend leaving your bulldog at home if you can’t or don’t plan on taking them inside the store with you. But if you insist, make sure an adult is in the car with your bulldog and that the AC is on. Never leave your dog alone unattended in a car.

3. When outdoors, always have a shady area available for your English bulldog to rest

When playing outside, make sure there is a shady area available for your bulldog to retreat to. This shady area can be as simple as a large tree or an awning.

Giving your bulldog a shady place to cool down will allow them to escape the scorching sun while providing a more comfortable environment to drink water and get their body temperature down. A shady area won’t be as cool as indoors, so if your bulldog looks distressed even in the shade, it’s time to bring them indoors to enjoy some air conditioning.

4. If it’s an extremely hot day, it’s best to keep your English bulldog indoors

A hot day for you is an even hotter day for your bulldog. Your bulldog has fur and extra skin that makes the heat feel even more intense than it does for you. You should take this into consideration and keep your bulldog indoors on days where the temperature is high. English bulldogs are creatures of comfort, so they don’t want to be outside unless it’s about 65ºF.

5. Use ice packs or cooled towels to keep your English bulldog from overheating

Ice packs and cooled towels are cheap and effective ways to keep your bulldog cool on hot summer days. Cooled towels can be made by putting wet towels in an ice cooler or the freezer. Rotate where you place these cooling elements on the bulldog’s body and be sure to rub them on the dog’s neck and back. The neck and back are usually the hottest spots on the bulldog if they’ve been playing in the sun

6. Only use dog crates with good air ventilation

Dog crates can be a good place to keep your bulldog when left at home alone or at night when they sleep. But it’s important that your dog crate has adequate air ventilation, especially in the summer.

If it doesn’t, your dog may overheat and find it generally uncomfortable. English bulldogs may also find it difficult to breathe in a dog crate without proper ventilation in general, regardless of the temperature, so make sure you purchase a crate with good ventilation.

7. Avoid exercising your English bulldog during the hottest part of the day

Humans can sustain more heat than English bulldogs due to distinct physiological differences. So, what may seem like good weather for a long walk to you, could be way too hot for your bulldog.

On hot days, you should try to exercise with your bulldog during the cooler parts of the day such as early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun is not at its brightest and hottest.

8. Keep your bulldog at a healthy weight

Manage your bulldog’s food and exercise properly to avoid obesity. Obesity has many health risks, one of them being increased likelihood of your bulldog getting a heatstroke. Extra body weight will make it more difficult for your bulldog to breathe, leading to faster overheating and heatstroke. For more information on how to keep your bulldog at a healthy weight, see this post.

9. Groom your bulldog to help prevent them from overheating

Brushing your bulldog’s fur on a regular basis is beneficial for more than just appearances. Grooming is also a good way to prevent bulldogs from overheating as it removes unnecessary hair that may be heavy on your dog. Less and thinner hair will generate less heat, which is why you often see those funny looking shaved Golden Retrievers in the summer months!

10. Purchase cooling products to help your English bulldog stay cool

There are lots of products geared towards keeping pets like your English bulldog cool on hot days. You can buy edible products such as frozen dog treats or you can purchase other accessories like cooling mats to go in your bulldog’s crate. Do your research and find products that will work best for you and your bulldog.

Signs and symptoms of heatstroke in English bulldogs

If your dog has suffered or is suffering from heat stroke it may not be obvious. However, learning the signs and symptoms can make it easier to tell. The sooner you know that your bulldog is suffering, the sooner you can act. Here are a few signs that your bulldog may be affected by heat stroke:

  • General discomfort
  • Unconsciousness
  • Behavioral changes: You know your bulldog best, so you may notice if he/she is acting strange. Is he/she grumpy? Sick? Agitated? Is he/she acting lazier than normal? These might be signs that something is wrong.
  • Excessive panting: Panting is your English bulldog’s natural way of cooling down. If they are experiencing heatstroke they will be panting excessively while trying to cool down.
  • Excessive drooling

There are other more subtle symptoms of heatstroke in English bulldogs, but the above are the most recognizable symptoms. If you feel that your bulldog is experiencing heatstroke don’t wait,  but act immediately to cool them down or consequences may be fatal.

What should you do if your English bulldog gets heat stroke?

The first and most important thing to do if your dog gets heatstroke is to remove them from the heat. Move them to a shady area or take them inside where there is air conditioning and immediately contact a veterinarian or animal hospital.  

If you suspect that your English bulldog has heat stroke, immediately perform these 3 steps to improve their chances of recovery:

Step 1: Cool them down

You can do this by placing your bulldog in a tub or by hosing them down with cool water. Make sure that the water is cool but not cold as it could lead to shock.

You should also continuously offer your bulldog water. Water will rehydrate them and help lower their temperature. Make sure they don’t over drink water as it can lead to vomiting or water poisoning.

You should check their temperature every few mins to ensure that your actions are working. Your dog’s ideal temperature is 103ºF.

Step 2: Contact the Vet

Have a conversation with your vet over the phone so you can discuss the next steps.

If your efforts to lower your bulldog’s temperature isn’t working, you should make an emergency visit to your vet or an animal hospital immediately.

By calling the clinic beforehand, the staff can begin to prepare for your arrival.

In less serious cases, your vet may still want to see you soon after your bulldog has cooled down. Getting a thorough check-up is always a good idea after experiencing heatstroke, no matter how minor the incident.

Step 3: Check for shock

A thorough check-up will allow the veterinarian to check your bulldog for shock, among other things. The vet will check your dog’s physical appearance and run tests to gather information on your bulldog’s current condition. It’s best to let the experts check in case you miss anything.

However, if you can’t visit soon enough, your vet may lead you through this process over the phone.

Once your English bulldog has been checked for aftereffects and has enough fluids in them, you can expect your bulldog to get back to his/her normal self.

During the hotter summer months, your English bulldog is at a higher risk of heatstroke, as their bodies might overheat due to exposure to hot environments for prolonged periods of time. But the summer doesn’t have to be a time to be stuck indoors with your pet, as there are many easy steps you can take to prevent your bulldog from suffering from heatstroke. So go forth and enjoy the warm weather with your furry best friend!

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