French bulldog at Blue Cross vet clinic

Heatwave agony for flat-faced pets

Blue Cross is warning owners of flat-faced dogs like French bulldogs, pugs and boxers, to keep them cool after emergency cases of heatstroke in these breeds were admitted to our animal hospitals.

Tan French bulldog in owner's arms
Blue Cross is seeing more and more cases of flat-faced breeds like this admitted for heatstroke.

Nearly 700 flat-faced, also known as brachycephalic, dogs were seen by Blue Cross vets since the mercury started to rise on 1 June. Several have since been admitted for emergency care after suffering from heatstroke or breathing problems.

Georgie Hearne, Blue Cross Vet Surgeon said: “It is so sad to see the needless suffering of these pets because they were bred to have such exaggerated features. These breeds almost always need surgery to help them to breathe more easily. However, most will continue to struggle to breathe for the rest of their lives – bad enough in cooler weather but this heat must be like hell for them.”

The exaggerated features in these breeds can also lead to other health issues. Because of their short and narrow airways, these pets struggle to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream which puts a strain on their heart. Many of these breeds also have prominent eyes which makes them vulnerable to injury and ulcers. 

Georgie continues: “This summer, we have seen a number of French bulldogs with ear infections or problems with items like grass seeds getting into their ear canal. This often needs an anaesthetic to remove which can be risky because of their difficulty to breathe.”

It isn’t just these type of dogs who are suffering; Blue Cross has also admitted several emergency cases of Persian cats with breathing problems. Persian and similar flat-faced breeds of cat have the same short nasal passage due to breeding for their looks over their health.

Blue Cross is urging owners to always make sure pets are kept as cool as possible, avoid walking dogs in the middle of the day and never leave alone in a car – even for a couple of minutes. Our vets advise all pet owners to be aware of signs of heatstroke and act quickly to get veterinary help.

We're also calling on anyone thinking of getting a flat-faced pet to think twice and stop the trend for these type of dogs who are more and more finding themselves in rescue after owners cannot afford the expensive vet bills for all the treatment they need. 


— Page last updated 17/12/2021