Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Walking and Exercising for Flat-Nosed Dogs

Happy National Dog Walking Week!  Yes, it's true, this week is dedicated to walking your beloved pup.  Now, us flat-nosed dogs (also called brachycephalic breeds) face some challenges when it comes to walking, which is why I put together this list of tips for safely including your favorite smushy-face in the dog walking festivities.

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Brachycephalic describes a skull that has a flat, wide shape.  Like mine.  Beautiful, isn't it?  As cute as we are, us flat-nosed dogs have some heath risks associated with the unique shape of our heads and faces.  One primary health concern associated with the adorable flat faces of the brachycephalic breeds is breathing difficulties caused by small nostrils and sometimes reduced airflow.  This restricted airflow also leads to low heat tolerance.  Reduced airflow and low heat tolerance?  Sounds like a recipe for disaster!  Don't get out the bon-bons and 90210 re-runs just yet - just because there are some health concerns does not mean that your flat-faced friend can't participate in #DogWalkingWeek!

1.  Make sure you walk during one of the cooler parts of the day.  For example, take a walk early in the morning, or sometime right before sunset in the evening.  If you live in a tropical climate like I do, be aware that these times are also prime for mosquitoes.  You may want to pick up some natural repellent for your dog - especially if they suffer from skin allergies like me (also a common brachycephalic trait)!

 2.  Do not walk too far or too fast at first.  Pace yourself.  Let your dog stop to take a break every once in awhile.  Encourage your dog to sit and rest a few times during the walk, and make sure that you monitor your pet for heat exhaustion or difficulty breathing.  Return home if your pet begins to show any signs of a struggle.

3.  Bring plenty of water!!  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Living in south Florida, I bring my portable water dish EVERYWHERE.  If you choose to bring your dog on a long walk, please PLEASE make sure to pack some water for them.  Even if it doesn't seem that warm out to you, your dog can overheat quickly (especially us flat-faced breeds)!  This water bottle is similar to the one that I use:

4.  Make sure that you use a collar or harness that does not restrict your pet's airway.  I use a snazzy collar when my humans take me out front to do my business, but when we go for a longer walk, we switch to the harness.  Invest in a harness that is high quality and made out of soft, breathable material.  Flat-nosed breeds tend to have very sensitive skin, and any rubbing from the collar or harness can turn into a big problem really fast.  This is the exact harness that I use.  It is SUPER awesome because it is high quality AND looks like Darth Vader.  You can also get this harness at your local Petco.

5.  The final step is to HAVE FUN.  Go enjoy being outdoors with your buddy!

Remember, I am not a vet - I am a French Bulldog!  If you are unsure whether this type of activity is appropriate for your pet, please be sure to ask your pet health professional before engaging your pet in any type of exercise or activity.


  1. Walking us a different way and being cognizant of our flat face is very important
    Lily & Edward

    1. Absolutely! We can exercise and enjoy the outdoors but knowing the issues and preventing them is VERY important! Thanks for the visit, friend!

  2. These are such great tips, and really, it's great advice for any dog that isn't used to walking or lives in a hot climate. Thanks for joining our #DogWalkingWeek celebration, and for making the commitment to walk! That harness is really cool looking!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets