Breathe Easy | Caring for Flat-Faced Dogs

Who can resist a dog with large eyes and an adorable smooshed-in face? These types of dogs, known as brachycephalic breeds, require special care. By learning more about their unique needs, you can keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy.

Breathing Challenged Breeds
The word brachycephalic simply means “short headed”, which is a perfect description for their stout noses and flat faces. Common brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • Shih Tzus
  • Pekingese
  • Boston Terriers

Because of their short snouts, flat-faced breeds can have a hard time breathing. They are also more susceptible to heat stroke and overheating.

Know Your Dog’s Limits
While many flat-faced dogs enjoy long, happy lives, there are things you can do to head off potential issues for your pet.

  • Keep your pet cool.
    Warm, humid weather can make breathing especially difficult for your pet. Be sure to keep them cool, especially during the summer. If you are outside with your dog, keep them in the shade and provide plenty of water.
  • Don’t overdo it with exercise.
    Regular exercise, such as going for a walk and playing, is important for any dog. However, you should always pay attention to how heavily your dog is breathing. If your pet seems to be having a hard time catching their breath, stop for a rest on your walk or take a break from playing.
  • Be careful around water.
    Brachycephalic breeds are also not suited for swimming. Their large chests can make them more likely to tire easily and put them at an increased risk of sinking. Keep a close eye on them and consider using a dog life jacket.
  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight.
    Extra pounds can make it even harder for flat-faced breeds to breathe. Monitor your dog’s weight and consult with your veterinarian about any changes you may need to make to your dog’s diet.

It is also important to pay attention to any changes in your dog’s breathing patterns. If your pet is abnormally wheezing, coughing, or snorting, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Though your pet is predisposed to unique health issues, flat-faced dogs are undoubtedly cute companions. With careful attention and regular vet visits, both you and your pup will breathe easier knowing they are protected from potential problems.