Jack is an adult British Bulldog, who was adopted into his current family as a young adult about 8 months ago. He has settled in really well, and his owners have done a great job of transitioning him into their family.
Bulldogs and other similar brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds do have a few health issues that need to be watched carefully. They have many skin folds, and can be quite drooly, so they need to have their skin checked and cleaned regularly to make sure they do not get dermatitis.
They also can suffer from brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, which affects the respiratory tract in a number of ways, including narrowed nostrils, and elongated soft palate, and a narrowed trachea. These upper airway obstructions reduce the flow of air over the tongue. In dogs with longer snouts, panting is a very effective way of cooling the body down, as rapid air flow through the mouth and over the tongue cools the blood.
In brachycephalic breeds panting is not very efficient, and the throat can become quite swollen, further reducing the amount of air movement. They can suffer quickly from heat stress.
This is what happened to Jack, out for an ordinary walk. He had coped with the same walk many times before, but always came home and flopped on his tummy on a cool floor to recover. This time he just got too hot. He collapsed, started trembling, and had trouble breathing. He was given a cooling bath at home, but it didn’t seem to help much. He was brought into the clinic straight away
In hospital Jack was placed on intravenous fluids, given an anti-inflammatory injection, and monitored very carefully. He was very stressed when he came in, but he settled down and his temperature returned to normal. Unfortunately his tummy did not feel normal, because he also developed severe diarrhoea and had a few vomits, both of which happen in heat stress cases. He needed another bath! He also had to go home with tablets to settle his tummy.
Jack spent 2 days in hospital, and 3 days after the initial scare he was back to normal. Definitely a reminder for all of us… to exercise with care in the heat!!