Battersea's advice for keeping flat-faced dogs safe in the sun

30 JULY 2020

With temperatures set to rise, leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, is advising dog and cat owners to take all the necessary precautions  – particularly owners of popular designer brachycephalic breeds.

These flat-faced dogs, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, have shot up in popularity over recent years – but unscrupulous breeding means their cute looks can mask a host of health problems, including difficulty breathing. Vets have likened their short airways to trying to breathe through a drinking straw.

Battersea has seen a huge increase in the numbers of these breeds coming into its centres as their owners realise they cannot cope with the veterinary treatment many of these dogs need – and they can really suffer in hot weather.

Battersea’s Veterinary Director, Shaun Opperman, explains: “Breeds such as the ever-popular French Bulldog are falling victim to irresponsible breeding because of their increasing popularity. 

“Many brachycephalic dogs have difficulty breathing due to a number of factors related to their shortened muzzle – their airways are overlong, narrowed and convoluted. The problems this causes are exacerbated in hot weather, even above 20°C, so owners should be particularly vigilant in the summer months.”

Battersea has top tips to keep dogs safe during the warm weather:

  • Plan your walk

Try and avoid taking your dog out in the midday sun – when the temperature is at its hottest. An early morning or evening walk will be cooler and more pleasant for your dog but flat-faced dogs may benefit more from gentle indoor exercise. 

  • Always remember water

Ensure your dog or cat has easy access to plenty of clean drinking water especially in the summer. 

  • Never leave a dog in the car or conservatory

Do not leave your dog alone in the car under any circumstances. Leaving them alone in a car when it is warm for even a few minutes can be fatal – even if the car is parked in the shade, or a window has been left open. Leaving your dog in the conservatory can also have the same effects as leaving them in the car. 

  • Keep them cool 

Encourage your dog to stay in shaded areas, away from direct sunlight. Putting a damp towel for them to lie on or providing a shallow paddling pool in the shade can also help. 

  • Introduce new games to keep them busy indoors

Freezing their food, making pet friendly ice-lollies, or using special food puzzles, can keep them busy. However, take care to ensure brachycephalic dogs don’t get too overexcited as this can cause them to overheat. 

  • Protect their foot pads

Hot surfaces can burn your dog’s foot pads, particularly sand or tarmac. If these surfaces feel too hot for you, then it is too hot for your dog. If you must take your dog for a walk, try keeping to public grassy areas. 

  • Sun cream for dogs and cats

Specially formulated sun cream for animals can be found in most pet shops. If unsure – always check with your vet first. 

  • Look out for heatstroke

Heatstroke is when your dog can’t reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal. The signs to look out for include: 

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • A rapid pulse
  • Excessive salivation 
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

If you spot any of the signs in your dog, act fast. Take them to a cool, shaded area. Apply a towel soaked in cold water to their head, neck and chest, and let them drink water or lick an ice cube. Never place them directly into ice cold water or give them too much to drink as they may go into shock. 

For more advice on how to keep your dogs and cats cool in the summer, please visit:


For more information, please contact 

Notes to editors 

  • Brachycephalic dogs have difficulty breathing due to a number of factors related to their shortened muzzle – an overlong soft palate, narrowed trachea, convoluted nasal passages just to name a few. 
  • Since Battersea was founded 160 years ago, we’ve been committed to helping every dog and cat that needs us - championing their rights, loving their imperfections and expertly caring for them. Because rescue is our favourite breed.
  • We’re reliant on the generosity of the public to continue to fund our vital work helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them. Now more than ever, we need funds to enable us to continue to be here for every dog and cat.
  • Battersea directly helps over 5,000 dogs and cats across its three centres and uses its expertise, influence, and voice to help thousands more animals all over the country and across the world.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 34 days and 25 days for a cat.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • To donate to Battersea, visit
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or