Friday, December 8

An Important Message About Overheating and Frenchies

This message came to the FBRN volunteer listserv. It was written by an M.D., one of our own volunteers, about an experience she had, not with a foster, but with her own Frenchie, Cosette. Though it's far more likely that most of our readers are contending with Frenchies who won't go outside in the snow than Frenchies who might get too hot, we felt this story should be shared. We know we won't forget it over the long months before summer rolls around again. We'll never forget it.

"Maybe I should have known it could happen to me, but I never thought about it.....Yesterday I almost lost my first baby, our heart dog, Cosette.
It's a story that could happen to any of us and that is why I am going to share it. It's a little long......

Yesterday here in Florida, it was a beautiful day (like today) - not that hot, say 75-80 degrees (yeah, that's "not so hot" here) and sunny. I was doing yard work at a rental property we own about an hour from here. I had taken Cosette with me for some private time with Mommy. She is such a good dog. You can leave her off the leash in the yard and she won't run off.

In the brushy field next door she found a big rubbery green ball - big like a beach ball - way too big for her to get into her mouth. Cosette is ball crazy, she chased this ball all over the yard for maybe 15-20 minutes. I finally had to take it away from her because she was panting so hard. I gave her some water, she flopped down in the shade on the driveway.

She kept panting pretty hard, so I put her in the car with the A/C on high. I went back to putzing around the yard. 15 minutes or so later, I went to check on her....she is GASPING for air in the passenger seat, there is vomit and mucous all over the car. Her tongue is bluish purple. Now I'm freaking. I am an hour from home in a strange town, it's Friday afternoon about 2:30 WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!!!???!!!!

I grab her up, she is limp like a rag doll. I run around the side of the house to the hose. I lie her in the grass and turn on the water. She looks terrible, gasping, blue, ribs barely moving, glassy stare...I have to wait forever for cold water to come through the hose...damn Florida sun. I hose her down and rub her.

My mind is racing - I just barely know how to get to the main roads from here, much less know where a vet is who might happen to be open on Friday afternoon.

I throw her back into the passenger seat and take off cell phone in hand, A/C on full blast. I'm on the phone & driving fast, closest ER vet doesn't answer the phone, 2nd vet closed, 3rd vet closed...Cosette is getting quieter, but her chest is barely moving and with every breath her flews ruffle. All of a sudden I see a sign for a vet...I tear across 3 lanes of traffic and then run the red light to turn in.

THEY'RE OPEN!!!! I don't know if the vet is in...I grab Cosette and run in. I must have looked very distressed because everyone stopped what they were doing. I
said "My dog is having trouble breathing". The one girl took her from me right away and rushed her into the back. THE VET IS IN!!!!!!!

I finally sit down, shaking and near tears. The vet was wonderful, the office was clean and his staff was so friendly. At first he wasn't sure what was going on...poisoning? ?? she could have eaten something over in the field, I don't know, did she vomit and aspirate???....Oh, God, none of this is good. they draw blood, start an IV, give her meds, do x-rays and put her in the oxygen crate. Her temp was 103.5 - not too bad, but maybe it was higher before I hosed her down and ran the A/C with all the vents pointed at her.

After all the results come in, we discover that Cosette is in pulmonary edema - she has water in her lungs and was going into shock. The vet has given her a diuretic to start pulling the fluid off...her oxygen levels which were very low are coming up in the oxygen crate.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? We think she panted so hard that she obstructed her own airway. I had never heard of this. If you tug too hard trying to breathe against a closed airway, it can cause "Negative pressure pulmonary edema". I know this can happen to humans after anesthesia, but in a healthy dog??? this was news to me.

Look it up, it's called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome or Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome. BAS is just another cross our poor Frenchies (and Pugs, Bostons, King Charles Cavaliers, English bulls, etc.) have to bear AND one I didn't know about.

We were lucky -- so INCREDIBLY lucky in many ways. Cosette was dying -- I could see it. As I was driving I was wondering how I could do CPR on her, drive at the same time and call for help, too. We found a vet just in time and he was a good vet.

We are blessed. Cosette responded very well to the drugs. As they were getting ready to close, he left her IV in, gave me syringes drawn up with another dose of a broncho-dilator and a diuretic in case she needed it before I could get her to another vet and off I went with my baby.

She is fine today. She has been at our sides every minute since. We even let her sleep between us in bed last night (that was a first!!!).

I'm sorry this has gone on so long, but if it could happen to us...

Hold your Frenchies tight and give them kisses for us..."

Please, don't allow your Frenchies to overheat! Don't even allow them to play too hard for too long a time. This is exactly the sort of thing that can happen to anyone, and we know we had never heard of this condition. Thank you to our volunteer for sharing this story and the information. We are so happy that this story ended well. Please tell your friends who have brachycephalic breeds to be aware of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, and to be watchful.

Take care of yourselves, and take care of your dear Frenchies!
The Frog Princess

Photo 1: Cosette, la Reine! (the queen!)
Photo 2: Cosette, sitting pretty
Photo 3: Cosette, coming home with IV
Photo 4: Cosette, high 5 with IV
Photo 5: Cosette, Maxine and Roman Bullansky


Anonymous said...

Yes, please be careful with your dog in hot weather. On our first Frenchie playdate all of the dogs went to a lake to play. All the other dogs went in the water to cool off. Mine wanted no part of this. By the time we got a few blocks from the house we were visiting my dogs looked pathetic. We had to carry them both & squirted them down immediately. We put the fan on for them & within a few minutes one of the dogs was fine, but the other one took much longer to recover. We were just about ready to find a vet, when she finally came around on her own. But realizing what a close call we had that day scared me into being much more cautious with my dogs. Better to be safe than sorry. I am so glad that Cossette's story has a happy ending.

anita said...

i am so glad this story turned out so well.. we have english bulldogs and our breeder couldnt stress enough how careful i needed to be with him. i had never heard of a dog that could DIE from getting too hot but she just kept telling me over and over. we live in ca and it gets HOT here.. so we watch. our dog is a ball lover too and i really have to keep my eyes on him.. lol our little girls is smarter.. she doesnt overdue like he does. i am so thankful for our breeder!

marky said...

Thank you for the remember to keep my little girl cool!! marky

Anonymous said...

Our first little girl, Velvet, did this with anxiety at a Vet's office. we had left her there for some care while we took my mare to the Equine center. When we returned I was aat the front desk and heard her stress when she heard my voice. That vet worked on her with everything and kept her going, for which we were so thankful. The vet said don't leqave her alone again.
We lost her last July to cancer. She left a hole in our hearts, but thru FBRN we now have our wonderful Sofie.

Anonymous said...

Hi this happened to me also with my 2 Shih Tzus. It was hot out around 80 but in the evening and they were in the shade. They were chasing the dog next door along the fence. I got distracted setting up a new fan and let them out for 10- 15 min. The first dog came to the door and was panting I brought him in and started to put water over him while my son went out to get the 2nd dog. Both dogs were panting but there eyes looked like they were in trouble. My son and I put water on their pulse points but in a matter of a minuite they looked worse. We ran to take them to the coolest room in the house - stayed there for two min when the second dog collapsed on the floor with mucus and becoming nonresponsive. This was a matter of a couple of minuites. I knew we couldn't get them to the vet fast plus that would mean going out in the heat. My son filled up a tub of water and we put them in the tub as it filled so we did not dunk them. I knew I ran the risk of sending them into shock from the cooling temp but I thought they would go into hyperthermia anyway. I fed them ice chips and it took 20 min for them to come around. Now they go out for a short time and don't play like they want to- also no more chasing the dog next door. I have a frenchie foster also but kept her in because it was hot. I was terrified when this happened and usually am so careful about the heat. Warn everyone and tell them what to do about heat stroke in dogs.

Jess said...

Thank you very much for sharing your story. My french bulldog is young, just turned one last week. I have read a lot about French Bulldog's before I got her but I feel like I am still learning new things. I will definetly be careful with her in the heat after reading your brave story. I glad Cosette is okay now. You must have been so scared.

RoSE said...

We bought a cooling vest from Ruffwear last year which helps a lot when its getting too hot outside.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the comments and advice. My Frenchie boy has already had surgery for stenotic nares and an elongated soft palette. Even with the surgeries, he still gets a little "panty" when he plays to much and is too warm. I have heard that putting cool wet pads on the pads of their paws will help cool them down. Has anyone else heard/done this? We ae in So Cal and the summers are pretty toasty.