Summertime is a lovely time of year for dogs and dog owners, and the warmer weather makes us all want to get outside and do fun things with our dogs and friends. However, very hot weather can be challenging for dogs of all types – particularly those that are stocky, muscular and flatfaced like the English bulldog.
The English bulldog isn’t one of the world’s most lively and active dog breeds, and they are very sedentary compared to most – but they still need and want walks and exercise, and this is also very important for them. This can be a challenge to provide during the summer, because English bulldogs are also very sensitive to the heat, and at a greater risk of overheating and suffering from heatstroke than most other dogs.
This means that finding ways to exercise your English bulldog and keep them fit and active in the summer without compromising their health can be a challenge – and one that owners of dogs of the breed must be prepared to meet.
In this article, we will share some tips and advice on exercising your English bulldog safely during the summer. Read on to learn more.
Why is summer a particular challenge for English bulldogs?
Hot weather can make all dogs uncomfortable and overly hot, but English bulldogs possess a range of traits that can make it harder for them than others. First of all, dogs of the breed tend to be stocky and muscular, which is apt to make them feel the heat more – but the main issue that summer presents for the breed is due to the conformation of their faces.
English bulldogs have flat-looking faces with shorter muzzles than most dogs, which can affect their ability to breathe comfortably when exercising, and also makes them more prone to overheating. Dogs cool themselves down by panting – this, along with drinking water is their main way of staying cool – and if your dog can’t get enough air or struggles to breathe when exercising or getting hot, this can have an acute impact on their health in hot weather.
English bulldogs are more at risk of overheating and heatstroke than other breeds, and will also struggle more to maintain a cool enough body temperature in hot weather.
Next, we will look at how to exercise your English bulldog and keep them fit when the weather is hot.
Keep your dog at a healthy weight
First up, being overweight will make your dog uncomfortable in hot weather, and it can also worsen breathing issues and overheating.
Monitoring your dog’s weight and keeping it on an even keel all year round will help to reduce summer problems, and keep your dog well and happy.
When to exercise your dog
When the weather is really hot and there’s no shade or breeze, it is too hot for your dog to exercise – or walk on pavements. This means that you will need to plan around the weather to enable you to walk your dog when the weather is cooler, such as in the early morning and evening when the sun has gone down and the temperature starts to drop.
Keep exertion and activity to a minimum when it is hot, and don’t encourage your dog to play or run around in the midday heat.
How to exercise your dog
Even when you walk your dog at the cooler times of the day, the weather is still hot, and your dog may still overheat. A longer but more gentle walk provides more value – and will keep your English bulldog cooler – than a shorter, more vigorous walk, so aim for longer, more sedate walks and try to keep your dog from getting overexcited.
If or when your dog starts panting heavily, struggling, or otherwise showing signs of discomfort, find them shade, offer them some water, and wait for them to cool down and calm down before you consider continuing or turning around to head for home.
Always offer your dog water regularly when they are exercising, and don’t take your dog so far that you can’t get them home easily if they overheat.
You might also want to buy them a cooling jacket that can be soaked in water for their walks.
Alternatives to walks in hot weather
There are a number of alternatives to walking in hot weather with your English bulldog that you might not have thought about such as finding a doggy play centre or day care facility that offers air conditioned, indoor play. This is a great way to exercise your English bulldog when the weather is hot, allowing them to be active without risking the effects of the heat.
Another option is to find a canine hydrotherapy centre so that your dog can swim – and where they can swim safely. Most English bulldogs have problems swimming on their own due to their stocky builds, heavy heads and flat faces, which means you shouldn’t encourage them to get into ponds or lakes. A hydrotherapy centre can supply a buoyancy aid and supervision to allow your dog to get a full body workout safely and happily.
If your home naturally stays cool in hot weather or if you have air conditioning, you might also want to devise an indoor activity or game that will let your dog stretch their legs and do something in a cooler environment, without having to go outside.