One of the best things about working with pets are all the beautiful and unique dogs and cats we meet. With each different breed however, comes a variety of special considerations. A common trait in a number of breeds is Brachycephaly. These are animals bred to have short snouts or muzzles and include French and English Bulldogs as well as Pugs, the poster children of squish face pups. But did you know that Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chow Chows, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, Bull Mastiffs, Shar Peis, English Toy Spaniels, King Charles Spaniels and even Newfoundlands fall into this category as well? Even some cats are brachycephalic, like the Himalayan and Scottish Fold. While they are indisputably cute, brachycephalic animals face unique health concerns.
Swimming: Because of breeding standards, many brachycephalic dogs tend to be ‘top heavy’ with broader shoulders and larger heads. This can make it hard for them to stay afloat in deeper water. Brachy dogs should never be allowed to be near water unsupervised, and for dogs who do enjoy swimming, they should always wear a life vest. Luckily for our guests, our saltwater pool has a shallow wading end, flotation jackets on hand, and handlers close by at all times!
Heat: Any person or pet can develop symptoms of heat stroke in hot conditions, but for our Brachy friends, the heat can affect them to a greater degree. Shortened faces mean shorter airways, and panting, a dog’s main cooling mechanism, is rendered less effective. It’s important to always keep water on hand, have an air conditioned place for your pup to retreat to, and know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as heavy breathing, glazed eyes, dizziness, vomiting or collapse. Our staff is thoroughly trained on all the signs and first aid in these situations and our small sized groups allow us to keep a close eye on each pet.
Skin: The signature adorable wrinkles of the Bulldog or Boston are what makes many people fall in love with these breeds. With this feature however comes the need for special care and cleaning. The folds around the face and neck can trap moisture or dirt from daily activities and should be wiped and dried daily to avoid any yeast infections from developing. The same applies to the ears which can have narrower ear canals than other breeds.
Eyes: The prominent or ‘bulging’ eyes common to these breeds are due to shallower eye sockets. As a result, many brachycephalic dogs cannot fully blink, leading to dry eyes, and possibly damage to the cornea. Keeping their eyes moist with eye drops, particularly during the bathing and drying process, can alleviate that concern.
For more info on all the steps we take to ensure the best possible experience for our pet guests, call or come by to speak with us!