The French bulldog is the UK’s most popular dog breed and one that more or less every dog lover can recognise immediately – and if you’re a Frenchie owner, you probably know of several others in the local area too.
This can be pretty handy as the popularity of the breed means that there are plenty of other owners to share tips with and get advice from if needed, and many area have a strong network of French bulldog owners who meet up and chat and walk their dogs together and discuss the breed.
When summer rolls around, the chances are that you’ll see a lot more dogs and dog owners around in general, as the warmer weather tempts people out into the sunshine; but caring for a French bulldog in the summer means you need to take extra care to protect your dog and keep them safe, even over and above what is needed for most dogs of other breeds.
This is because the French bulldog is brachycephalic, with a flattened face and elongated soft palate; which has implications for many aspects of their life, including their ability to stay cool, and breathe freely.
These factors, combined with a few other things, mean that there are a number of summer-specific things that French bulldog owners need to know and bear in mind in order to keep their dogs safe in warmer weather. Read on to learn seven summer-specific things that French bulldog owner need to do to keep their dogs safe.
Starting with a “don’t” rather than a “do;” never leave your dog in the car on their own. This is a rule that applies to every dog regardless of breed, because the risk of overheating is extremely high, even if you won’t be gone long and it doesn’t seem overly warm to you.
French bulldogs overheat faster and will run into breathing problems even faster than the average dog. Never leave them in a car alone; even in shade, with windows open, with air conditioning on, or for just a few minutes.
When it comes to walks and exercise, summer can be a challenge for French bulldogs. No dogs should be walked in the height of the summer sun, and when it comes to French bulldogs, you might need to make some fairly acute changes to your routine in order to walk them when the weather is coolest; and to avoid having them overexert themselves when they do.
Never leave your dog without shade and fresh, cool water; either inside or outside of the house. Bear in mind that a room that starts cool and shady may not remain so when the sun moves around, and particularly if your dog is confined to one room or a crate when you are out, ensure that they will not overheat.
Whether your dog is indoors or outdoors, they should always be able to move freely to choose a cooler spot and have water on hand.
French bulldogs have fine, single-layered fur, and in lighter coloured dogs of the breed, can be at higher risk of burning in the sun. If your dog has light fur, provide coverups, monitor for signs of reddening, protect them from the sun, and use sunscreen if needed.
Even in darker dogs, anywhere you can see their skin – such as the tips of the ears, and their nose – may be prone to burning, so once more, take steps to prevent this.
A dog that is overweight or obese will find it harder to breathe freely as well as being more prone to overheating. This is particularly a problem in the Frenchie breed, which already has that brachycephalic face to contend with.
Monitor your dog’s weight and keep them within healthy norms, and move quickly to slim them down if they start to get a bit rounded at the edges, which will help them to cope in summer and also, to stay safe.
Dogs that really suffer in the heat may need extra help keeping their cool, even if they have access to shade and water. You can buy cooling vests for this purpose, and you may also want to try out a few tricks like adding ice to their water bowl, making doggy ice lollies out of frozen gravy, and even providing a shallow paddling pool for your dog to take a dip!
Finally, whilst providing a shallow paddling pool can help your dog to stay cool, do take care in summer when it comes to French bulldogs and other water sources. Many Frenchies will like to paddle and find it a relief to cool off in streams or on the beach, but few dogs of the breed can swim well, so always keep them on a lead in order to ensure they don’t fall into water they can’t get out of, or otherwise run into problems.