flat faced breedsBrachycephalic breeds are a popular choice as pets – and for good reason. Their unique features (the smooshed face) and adorable personalities hold a lot of appeal for owners of flat faced Breeds.

These flat faced breeds, such as the Shih Tzu, Frenchie, Boston terrier, and Persian cat, also come with equally unique physical challenges. This makes them particularly susceptible to respiratory problems, heatstroke, and heat stress.

As a proud brachy mom or dad, it’s important to understand these risks to better care for your beloved fur friend.

The Physical Challenges of Brachycephalic Pets

Respiratory difficulties in snub-nosed pets is referred to as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. This condition is caused by structural abnormalities that define our short-nosed pets:

  • Elongated palate – The soft tissue between the mouth and nose is longer than in other breeds, resulting in snoring, snorting, and other respiratory problems.
  • Narrow nostrils – Brachys also have small, narrow nostrils, making it difficult for them to get enough air through the nose.
  • Narrow trachea – This defect makes it hard for pets to pant, a mechanism required for regulating body temperature.
  • Pouches of tissue within the larynx – These tissues can result in airway obstruction and often require surgical removal.

Because of these physical challenges, flat faced breeds are at an increased risk of heatstroke. Unable to pant and efficiently cool down their bodies, they must rely on their owners to help them stay safe and cool.

Practicing Heat Safety for Flat Faced Breeds

A thorough understanding of your brachycephalic cat or dog is key to protecting him or her in hot weather. We recommend the following heat safety precautions:

  • Avoid taking your pet outdoors when temperatures exceed 82 degrees.
  • Make sure you have access to shady areas where you can rest with your fur pal.
  • Always carry water with you – even on short trips. This keeps your pet hydrated and can be used for an emergency bath if your pet becomes too hot.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature using air conditioning and fans.
  • Encourage your pet to drink more water by using ice cubes or a water fountain type dispenser.
  • Make some delicious and cooling puppy popsicles in yummy flavors.
  • Use air conditioning in the car, and never leave a pet in the car alone – even for a few minutes.
  • Learn the signs of heatstroke in pets.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in the yard or outdoors.

Remember, heatstroke is a medical emergency that can be life-threatening. If your pet has red lips/tongue, skin that feels hot to the touch, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or disorientation, contact the team at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center immediately.