Wildlife Wednesdays: Flat-Faced Dogs vs Heat | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Flat-Faced Dogs vs Heat

We are still in the midst of summer through next month, which means we will continue to experience some very hot days. Those very hot days are hard on dogs, especially flat-faced dogs. A new study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports, reported that such "designer" dog breeds with "shortened snouts" have a harder time with the heat and are more likely to suffer from heatstroke than long-nosed dogs. 

The study analysed clinical records of more than 900,000 dogs under vet care in the UK in 2016. Of this number, around 1,222 dogs had heat-related illnesses (14.18% of these dogs died). Looking closer at the dog breeds that suffered from the heat revealed dog breeds had a "brachycephalic skull." This means that the dogs have shortened heads, flat faces, and short noses. These include bulldogs, which are 14 times more likely to require vet care for heatstroke than long-nosed dogs, the study mentioned. It continues to say that French bulldogs were 6 times more likely to suffer heatstroke, with pugs 3 times more likely to suffer heat-related illnesses. There is one long-nosed species that beats out the others in struggling with heat, and that is the Chow Chow. They are 17 times more likely to suffer heatstroke because they have a double coat that is thick, and it traps the warm air close to their skin, so it's harder for them to cool down. Study author Emily Hall explained that “brachycephalic dogs overheat due to their intrinsically ineffective cooling mechanisms. Dogs pant to cool down, without a nose, panting is simply less effective. In fact, brachycephalic dogs may even generate more heat simply gasping to breathe than they lose by panting,” she said.

Body size and weight are also a factor when it comes to the heat and dogs suffering heat stroke. Dogs that are above average for their weight are about 1.5 times as likely to suffer heatstroke. Large dogs (over 110 pounds) were almost 3.5 times more at risk for heat-related illnesses, the study mentions. 

If left alone in a car on a hot day without any water, a dog can overheat and die in as little as 20 minutes