Bulldogs, better known as English bulldogs are challenging dogs to live with because many suffer from one or more health issues. But bulldog caretakers need to keep in mind the special challenges of summertime — heat, bees and large bodies of water. Bulldogs are prone to heat stroke, can be allergic to bee stings and cannot swim.
The endearing short –nosed expression of a bulldog comes at a great price. The brachycephalic or flat nose makes it difficult for a bulldog to breathe normally. That’s why bulldogs snort and snore all of the time. This makes all dogs with flat faces, including bulldogs, far more prone to dying from heat stroke than dogs with longer noses.
Bulldogs should stay inside air-conditioned homes as much as possible during hot and humid conditions. Dogs should be walked in the cool of the evening or in the pre-dawn hours. Bring bottles of water and a dog bowl with you on walks. Pay close attention to how hard the dog is panting. If the dog is panting, stop the walk, get into shade and give water. And, of course, never leave your bulldog in a car during the summer.
Not all bulldogs will be allergic to bee or wasp stings. However, if the dog has been stung in the face or neck, any swelling can greatly interfere with the dog’s already compromised airways, notes “Bulldog: Your Happy, Healthy Pet” (John Wiley and Sons; 2008.) Contact your vet immediately if your dog has been stung and begins swelling, struggles to breathe or exhibits any sudden and unusual behavior.
A quick home remedy for bee stings is giving two 25 milligram Benedryl (diphenhydramine) tablets for a 50 pound bulldog. Pills can be slipped into a peanut butter sandwich, cheese or Pill Pockets. However, you should always call your vet first before giving your dog any human medication, including Benedryl.
Bulldogs are built like fuzzy bricks. Unfortunately, they swim exactly like fuzzy bricks. “Bulldogs For Dummies” (Wiley Publishing; 2005) sadly notes that drowning is a leading cause of death in bulldogs. Dogs do not instinctively know how to swim. Keep bulldogs away from all pools, lakes, rivers or any other bodies of water unless they are wearing life jackets specifically made for dogs.
Bulldogs do enjoy kiddie wading pools, especially on hot, humid days. But the pool’s depth needs to only reach the dog’s belly, at the very most.
“Bulldog: Your Happy, Healthy Pet.” Liz Palika. John Wiley and Sons; 2008.
“Bulldogs For Dummies.” Susan M. Ewing. Wiley Publishing; 2005.
Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. “Brachycephalic.” http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_brachycephalic.html