Dog Days Are Here: Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion. What's the Difference?

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

The dog days of summer are upon us, and our little Frenchies are more vulnerable to overheating than their longer-snouted brethren. Here are a few pointers for preventing heatstroke, a potentially deadly condition, as well as what signs to look for, and what to do when your Frenchie becomes overheated.


Never, ever leave your Frenchie in a parked car. Not in 100 degrees. Not in 90 degrees. Not in 80 degrees. Not even in 70 or 60 degrees.
Do not leave your Frenchie outside unattended.
If you must take him on a trip, use air conditioning to keep the car cool, and always carry water, a drinking bowl, and a cloth to wet and wipe down his belly, ears and head if he becomes overheated.
Keep your home comfortably cool, and provide fresh water at all times.
Do not allow your Frenchie to play outside on hot days. Take him outside to do his business, and whisk him back indoors as soon as he is done.
Walk your Frenchie only during the coolest time of day -- early morning is best, followed by late evening -- and don't go too far or too fast.

Heat exhaustion

If, despite your best efforts, your Frenchie becomes overheated, keep in mind that heat exhaustion can lead very quickly to heatstroke, and it is important to address the symptoms right away. If your dog is panting rapidly and salivating heavily, chances are he is suffering from heat exhaustion. He may also appear disoriented and may vomit. Frenchies tend to become very phlegmy when they are in this state, which can lead to further complications, like aspiration pneumonia. A good tip is to keep lemon juice handy. A little squirt of pure lemon juice into the mouth can thin the mucous and prevent the dog from choking on his own saliva. Just be sure not to squirt it toward the back of the mouth where the airway is located.

What to Do If You Suspect a Dog Has Heat Exhaustion

Remove the dog to a cool environment, and wipe his belly, head and ears with a tepid (not cold), wet cloth. Offer him cool water to drink. Alternatively, put the dog in the bathtub and, making sure he doesn't inhale water, run tepid (not cold) water over him. If you do not have access to a bathtub, use a garden hose or other source of cool water. Take the dog's temperature every few minutes. If it stays below 103°, continue cooling the dog and allow him to drink cool water until he returns to normal. If, however, he becomes worse or is already beyond the heat exhaustion state, more drastic measures should be taken.

Signs of Heat Stroke

In addition to the symptoms of heat exhaustion (heavy panting, drooling, vomiting, and confusion), the symptoms of heatstroke are:
Bright red gums

What to do if you suspect a dog has heatstroke

Follow the above instructions for heat exhaustion, but once the dog is wet, transport him to a veterinarian immediately. Call the vet and tell them you are on the way so they can make preparations. On the way to the vet, you can take further cooling measures such as applying a cold pack (frozen peas work well) to the dog's head and allowing him access to water. Do not force him to drink. Time is of the essence. If the condition is not reversed quickly enough, the dog may collapse. His gums may become pale, and he may produce bloody diarrhea. He may also suffer a seizure or even slip into a coma. At this point the dog is likely suffering brain and organ damage. Without immediate veterinary intervention, he is likely to die.

Always take care to keep your Frenchie cool, and, if in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Frenchies are not known for their common sense. It is up to us to be sensible for them.

(FBRN is not a vet, and you shouldn't substitute your vet's advice with ours. Check with your vet for their ideas and advice regarding any health issues you have questions about.)

Electronic Fences—A Bad Idea


Spring has sprung, and our little canine friends, nostrils aquiver, are venturing forth into the great outdoors.  How can we keep them safe?  Some people consider installing an "invisible" fence - an underground, electrically-charged wire that, in conjunction with a special collar worn around a dog's neck, delivers an electric shock when the dog steps across it. These electronic fences are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and they don't obstruct one's view.  Unfortunately, however, one could argue that the risks of electronic fences greatly outweigh their benefits, especially for French Bulldogs.


Electronic fences rely on punishment as a training method.

French Bulldogs can be naturally stubborn and challenging to train, but they are also surprisingly sensitive.  Physical punishment (in this case in the form of a painful electric shock) is not a viable training tool for any dog, and certainly not for a Frenchie.

fence-sensitive.jpgElectronic fences can cause severe behavior problems, including aggression and fearfulness.

French Bulldogs tend to be social little creatures.  Look up "aloof" in the dictionary, and you are not likely to see a picture of a Frenchie.  Say your Frenchie sees a nice lady walking with her toddler. She waddles over to greet them, and is zapped when she gets close.  In her pain and confusion, she might believe that the nice lady and/or the toddler were the source of the pain, and respond with fear or aggression.  Some dogs won’t leave their yards on leash for fear of a shock.  Some become afraid to go outside at all.

Dogs go through electronic fences.

Make no mistake about it, French Bulldogs are bulldogs through and through.  They can be willful.  A Frenchie might be perfectly willing to take a shock in order to get to that squirrel, dog, or (insert high-value item here), or to get away from something frightening like thunder.  Once outside the perimeter, she will be shocked when she tries to return, so she will instead wander off, completely vulnerable.

Electronic fences do not stop other animals from entering the yard.

Coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions... any one of these wild animals would love to feast on a scrumptious little Frenchie whose only crime is looking remarkably like a pot roast.  Loose dogs could attack, and if she tried to escape, she would be shocked by the electronic fence.  Some Frenchies have a high prey drive, and will chase wild, potentially disease-bearing animals that wander into the yard, not to mention your neighbor's cat.  We'll leave the whole skunk scenario to your imagination.

Electronic fences do not deter people from entering the yard.

We invite you to conduct an experiment.  Take a French Bulldog to any place where people congregate -- a kindergarten class, a shopping mall, a Hell's Angels clubhouse -- place it on the floor and step away.  Observe what happens.  You will see that the majority of your subjects will immediately drop their crayons, blouses or socket wrenches, and lumber toward the grinning Frenchie like zombies.  They are people magnets. The sight of a Frenchie sitting alone in the middle of a lawn, surrounded by nothing but air screams "Pet me", and in the case of more larcenous passers-by, "Take me".

If you are considering installing a fence to contain your Frenchie, please keep in mind that a sturdy, visible, conventional fence is the safest, most humane option.  If this is not a possibility due to constraints placed upon you by a neighborhood association, frequent leashed walks are your best bet.



French Bulldog Rescue Network

dog_of_the_week.jpgIsla in VA

Are you a devotee of drowsing? A supporter of snoozing? Do you suffer from fear of missing out…on adequate rest? If so, then you and Isla might be the perfect match. This sweet girl is looking for a full-time snuggle-buddy, who will make sure that she gets off the couch once in a while for some exercise and physical therapy. Isla has weak hindquarters and must wear a diaper to prevent accidents, but she’s worth that bit of extra work. So have a stretch, grab some coffee, and apply for her today!



Life Jackets

These Outward Hound canine lifejackets are a Frenchie water safety MUST-have! The French bulldog is a top heavy breed. Due to their uneven weight distribution, French bulldogs should not be allowed to swim without a lifejacket, even under supervision. They sink, and sadly can drown in a matter of seconds. Check them out HERE!


 Gold Paw Sun Shield Tee

We’ve been fielding requests for a summer-weight popover for years and we’ve finally found the right fabric – a lightweight stretch jersey with a UPF50 rating that blocks 98% of the sun’s UV rays. Super comfortable indoors and out and perfect for all sorts of applications beyond sun protection too: skin conditions, wound care, topical medications, and as an anti-anxiety calming aid that can be worn all day. Check them out HERE!

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FBRN's mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home French Bulldogs in need from commercial breeding kennels, import brokers, public shelters, private rescue groups, owners or Good Samaritans. Our organization is comprised solely of volunteers who nurture and foster these dogs as well as provide education and training. Our goal is to place healthy and happy French Bulldogs into forever homes.

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