Signs of Bulldog Overheating in the Summer

It’s the long hot summer and it’s time to think about your bulldog’s inability to cool off. Nothing makes me angrier than to see some ignorant human walking a bulldog down the black pavement in hot weather. Dogs partially cool off through the pads of their feet, so think about this.

Pavement can get upwards of 120 degrees in the sun. I’ve seen many bulldogs panting so hard their tongue is coming out of their head five or more inches in an attempt to cool off. If a bulldog gets to this degree of overheating death is possible. And it may occur a few hours later so the owner doesn’t “know what happened”. This sad scenario is one I’ve heard of numerous times.

My Bulldog Archie is a very active dog. I walk him two miles in the morning (earlier and earlier as the days warm up, making sure it’s below 60 degrees in the morning) and again in the evening if it’s not too hot. He’s trim and fit. The exercise is a bonding experience for me and him and it also helps work off excess energy.

Not all Bulldogs are like Archie. My Vivy could not have done this. Her breathing was too compromised. Only you can determine if your Bulldog can tolerate walking in the warm weather. Archie has a little longer snout and he’s able to breathe better than many other Brachycephalic dogs.

A lot of a dog’s cooling mechanism is in the snout, not through the skin as in us. The long snout allows air to travel over the tongue and by evaporating saliva cools down a dog. Since the Bulldog breeds have short noses and elongated palates they do not have this capacity to cool off properly. The air is slowed down, the throat swells causing more distress, thickening saliva and “foamy stuff” which further compromises breathing. This can lead to heat stroke and death.

If you have any doubts about overheating don’t take your bulldog out at all. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you want to exercise your dog in the heat, here are a few tips. It’s June in California and it can get up to 80 degrees or more so I take him early in the morning when the temperature is around 60 degrees.

I take a bottle of water and wet him down on his back, belly, sides, and rear end, avoiding his face and wrinkles since water will make his folds get infected. An option is what I call the “wet t-shirt” routine. Put your dog in a child’s t-shirt or a cooling blanket from a pet store and soak it in water to keep him or her cool.

I keep a close eye on his breathing. If he’s panting too rapidly I let him take a little rest in the shade.

Speaking of shade, I only walk him in a shady area. Direct sun is way too intense for an English Bulldog in the summer months.

If your dog’s tongue starts to protrude out the mouth really far, in contrast to normal tongue panting, it is a sure sign of overheating. Do not let this happen. If it does you need to cool the dog down immediately with more cold water and don’t let him walk anymore. Carry him to your air conditioned car or home immediately.

Another sure sign of overheating is when a Bulldog drops to the ground. This requires immediate attention and cooling.

Another sign of overheating is vomiting. If your bully is laying in the sun on a hot day (I wonder why they like to do this!) and starts to pant and gets up and throws up, she is in trouble. Take her inside and cool her down. Don’t just let her stay outside without keeping an eye on her when it’s hot because sure enough she’s going to go lay on the patio in the sun.

your bulldog pal,



  1. August 8th, 2010 | 4:13 am

    We have a five-year old male English bulldog, “Sullivan”. A real sweetie! 🙂 Thanks for this blog and this particular article; it has been a help.

  2. derrick
    May 22nd, 2013 | 2:11 pm

    thank you for posting this great info i bought my dog a baby pool she loves to get in to cool off if its over 85 i bring her in and let her out at nite when its cool as long as it doesnt get below 45

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