As Australia swelters through some of the hottest weather on record, the RSPCA and Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) are warning owners that the summer can take a particular toll on dogs with extreme features and breathing difficulties.
AVA spokesperson Dr David Neck said that as Australia‚Äôs summer temperatures soar, the risk of dogs suffering from heat stress or heatstroke grows higher, with some breeds more vulnerable than others.
‚ÄúHeat stress and heatstroke are 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.
‚ÄúUnfortunately, this particular feature leads to ‚Äì among other things - breathing difficulties, which only worsen in hotter temperatures.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve seen the popularity of these breeds rise significantly over the years and in many cases, owners are forced to invest in medical management and/or surgery to address the discomfort their dog experiences with breathing.
‚ÄúThe last thing we want to see is dogs suffering unnecessarily simply because they have been bred to look a certain way.‚Äù
While these extreme features make some breeds more prone to heat stress and heat stroke than others, any dog can suffer heat stroke in high temperatures
Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, fatigue, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and even seizures. Dr Neck advises pet owners to keep an eye on their dogs, especially dogs with exaggerated features, during very hot days.
‚ÄúIf their dog displays any of these symptoms, they should speak to their vet as soon as possible.
‚ÄúEnsure there is cool fresh water at all times and leave it in a shady area ‚Äì you might even want to put a few ice cubes in to help keep the water cold. If you don‚Äôt have air-conditioning, leave a fan on and giving your dog a trim, especially if it has longer hair, will also be a big help,‚Äù Dr Neck said.
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, such as the shortened muzzle, among others.
For more information on the Love is Blind campaign visit: http://www.loveisblind.org.au