French Bulldogs in Swimming Pool

Hot Weather Preparation Tips for French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs in Swimming Pool

Prevent heat stroke in dogs with a few easy tricks and tools

It’s that time of year again – time to prepare your French Bulldog (or any other breed of dog) for summer and to prepare an emergency kit against heat stroke and heat exhaustion. I’m going to assume that anyone reading this knows to NEVER EVER leave your dog inside a hot car. Doing so is a recipe for heat stroke in your dog.

First off, remember the ice cream rule:

Your dog is made of ice cream. If the weather is warm enough that you wouldn’t leave your ice cream inside your car for ‘just a few minutes’, then please do NOT leave your dog in there, either.

When it comes to outside fun, apply the palm of the hand measurement to decide if it’s too warm for your dog:

If you can’t leave your hand palm down on the ground or pavement for more than 60 seconds without being uncomfortable, it’s too hot for your dog.

A lot of fingers get pointed at French Bulldogs and other flat faced breeds when it comes to warm weather risks, and it’s true – flat faced dogs are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, which is why good breeders are concentrating on breeding dogs with a less exaggeratedly short face.

That said, please do NOT assume that because your dogs isn’t one of those dogs that he is not vulnerable to heat stroke. Every year, dogs of all sorts of different breeds die of heat stroke during walks in the park, while playing frisbee, or from being left inside the car for ‘just a few minutes’ (and do not get me started on people who leave dogs tied up in the back of pickup trucks in full sun exposure).

Dogs of any breed do not by nature expand a lot of energy when it’s hot out – they know better! They find a shady spot and hunker down for a nap. Even the so-called “Desert breeds” stay as cool as possible during the heat of the day.  Nature knows best – and she sure knows better than some of the humans who put their dogs at risk all summer long.

Now that I’m done ranting, let’s examine a few things you can have on hand to keep your dog cool and prevent heat stroke. For an ‘in case of heat stroke’ kit to have on hand, click here.

Keeping Cool – Items to Help Prevent Heat Stroke

Cooling Coat

The first, best thing is a cooling coat. There are a few kinds available – from high tech fabrics to terry cloth towels with Velcro attached. They all work by the same principal – wicking heat away from your dog’s body. I personally prefer the ones that wrap around and underneath my dog’s belly – keeping internal core temperature cool is priority one, for preventing heat stroke.

Cooling Mats

If you’re going to be outside for a while, bring along a cooling mat. The principal is pretty basic – your dog lies on the wet mat, and it wicks heat away from their body. This is the same principle that causes dogs to lie on cool tile floors or shady dirt.

Super Low Tech Cooling Mat – a Towel

Bring along a towel soaked in water inside a plastic bag. For extra cooling, keep in fridge or freezer until ready to leave.

Portable Water Source

This is pretty basic – your dog needs access to tons of fresh drinking water in the summer. Water is also handy for soaking dogs down – the head, the belly and the groin region, in particular. Since you can’t count on there being any where you’re going, it’s up to us to bring it along. You can do this with just bottled water, but I suggest also bring a bowl, or a fancy gadget to use as a portable bowl.

Portable Fans

These are great for crated dogs. Put a cooling pad down inside the crate, and keep a re chargable, portable fan aimed at them. Also works if you have to leave them under a tent at a show or event.

Kids Pools

Nothing makes my Frenchies happier than flopping down in a plastic kiddie pool. Some lie in them, some splash around in them, and some just like to head over for a quick drink. Either way, make sure you clean them out, including scrubbing the interior surfaces, and to change out the water at least every other day.

Hot Dog Emergency?

No matter how good your plans and preparations, even responsible owners can be ill prepared for a dog overheating. If this happens to you, use what you have on hand to get your dog’s core body temperature down, as quickly and safely as possible.

Soak paper towels in cool water, and wrap them around your dog, including their head and belly. If possible, get your dog to lie on the soaked paper. Swap it out frequently as it warms up.

Soak your dog down with water – bottled, from a tap, or dip them into a pond or creek. You want to soak them down, to help wick away heat. If you have a body of water you can safely stand with them in, immersed up to their neck, do it – but stay in there with them.

Limited drinks – too much water can cause vomiting, which will worsen their distress and further impair breathing.

Nothing is helping? Head for the vet! Call the closest emergency vet, and head on it. Your dog’s life may depend on it.

dead animal carcasses at rendering plant

AAFCO Admits Rendered Pets in Pet Food

UPDATED  03-20-2014: article link via Dr. Patty Khuly on barbiturate trace levels in pets, due to rendered pets and animals in the pet food supply chain.

When I first wrote an article years ago stating that some pet food companies were using the rendered remains of euthanized pets in their food (under the ingredient designation “meat and bone meal”), I got some pretty nasty email from people telling me I was either insane, or a liar.

For those who were still on the fence, here’s a just released video of AAFCO’s president finally admitting, on camera, that it’s allowable (and, in fact, fairly common practice) for rendered pets to end up in pet food.

AAFCO, by the way, is short for The Association of American Feed Control Officials, and is the regulatory body that sets guidelines for pet food and pet food ingredients in the USA. They could quite easily ban the use of rendered pets as acceptable for inclusion in pet food – but they don’t, because pet food companies value the cheap protein count that comes from rendered meat and bone meal.

What else can be rendered and made into “meat and bone meal”? Euthanized pets, road kill, expired grocery store meat (including the packaging), kill floor detritus, dead stock… etc.

Ethical considerations aside (and they are numerous, in my opinion), rendered pets (and horses) bring something else along with them – trace amounts of the chemicals used to kill them.

This is no minor matter – the Veterinary Industry takes this risk seriously enough to have studied barbiturate levels in pet foods, and to have assessed them as a risk to pets who consume them. Trace barbiturates consumed by pets create a tolerance level which has decreased overall effectiveness of barbiturates, making dosing pets increasingly difficult for veterinarians. Additionally, the chemicals used in euthanasia are, obviously, deadly.

Dr. Patty Khuly has an excellent article on this topic here –

As I’ve been saying for years — It really, really DOES pay to read the label.

H/T to the ever awesome Yesbiscuit for the video link

USDA Licensed and Inspected Dog Kennel

CFIA Partners Canadian Breeders with USDA

This is a repost of an article I originally wrote in 2010, and it details more specifically the CFIA’s insistence that any dog imported by a ‘commercial importer’ (if you breed, show, train or handle dogs, CFIA designates you as a ‘commercial importer).

The import restrictions now being enforced by Canadian Border Services, on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, grow increasingly disturbing the more they are examined.

It is now apparent that, under these restrictions, ANY puppy under the age of eight months which is imported into Canada from the USA for ‘commercial purposes’ must be:

sourced from dealers licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (born in a licensed kennel).

In a nutshell, they must come from USDA Breeders. Apparently, the CFIA thinks that a USDA designation is some sort of ‘stamp of approval’ of breeding quality.

That would be funny, except it really isn’t.

USDA breeders are pretty much universally loathed by show breeders, and anyone who is breeding dogs for any other reasons than financial gain. Their requirements for housing and care are inhumane, so far as any ethical breeder is concerned.

Consider this diagram, outlining what the USDA considers to be an ‘acceptable’ cage size for dogs:

USDA Acceptable cage size for dogs

Click here, to see the rest of the illustrations, and the USDA guidelines they are based on.

This restriction might have been fine when the designation of a ‘commercial’ importer was basically anyone who was importing puppies to be re-sold – ie; pet stores who sell puppies. Now that we’re told by CFIA that “commercial” designates anyone in Canada who has ever “bred a litter, shown a dog, or trained a dog”, this USDA restriction isn’t just unpleasant, it’s un tenuous. Even if anyone of us wanted to go to the trouble and expense of importing a USDA bred dog, we likely couldn’t couldn’t do anything with it in Canada once we had.

More and more USDA breeders don’t use the American Kennel Club to register their litters – ‘alternative’ registries like ARPA and the ConKC are cheaper, ask less questions, and welcome AKC suspended breeders with open arms. In Canada, the only American bred dogs that the Canadian Kennel Club will register are AKC registered dogs.

This isn’t just a problem – it’s a big problem, because as a CKC member, we’re not permitted to breed dogs that are not CKC registered.

This brings us back again to the issue at hand, which is “Can the CFIA’s regulations contravene the requirements of the CKC, which is mandated to maintain the integrity of Pedigree dogs in Canada, via the Animal Pedigree Act?”.

Once again, I spoke to  Dr. Susan Wray, CFIA’s Animal Health Import Contact. I asked her if she didn’t see the catch 22 that this requirement was putting CKC breeders in. Her quote was

“That’s not my concern. Unless the breeder is on the USDA list of licensed kennels, I do not issue the permit”.

CFIA obviously sees no difference between a hobby breeder who imports one puppy every ten years, for the benefit of their own breeding program, and someone importing trucks full of puppies to be re sold in pet stores.


I also suspect that a large part of the problem is that CFIA (which is, after all, short of Canadian Food Inspection Agency) sees dogs as just another ‘crop’ or form of livestock, to be raised under regulated ‘farm’ conditions, such as these at a “Benchmark Award Winning USDA Licensed Kennel Facility”.

This is how the CFIA thinks dogs should be raised

This is how the CFIA thinks dogs should be raised

I’m sure that, if you asked Dr. Susan Wray or any of her colleagues at the CFIA, these are the conditions they’d like to see imported dogs raised under – tidy, sanitary and completely cold and devoid of affection or human interaction. But, dogs aren’t livestock – and many of us are beginning to believe that even livestock being raised for the table deserver more stimulating environments than this, much less dogs being raised to play the role of family pets.

CFIA’s stance leaves those of us labeled as ‘commercial importers’ with three options:

– only ever import USDA breeder bred puppies
– only import dogs older than eight months of age
– lie, and be the ‘deceptive’ breeders that CBSA have accused us of being

The simple answer would seem to be ‘don’t bring in dogs under eight months of age’, but that’s not so easily done. First of all, most breeders are unlikely to hold on to their show prospect puppies until eight months, just to help Canadian breeders comply with this sort of draconian legislation. Secondly, while bringing in a small breed puppy older than eight months might not be that big of a deal, it is infinitely harder for breeders of large or giant breeds. Shipping an eight week old mastiff puppy is fairly uncomplicated – shipping an eight month old mastiff is something else altogether.

I’ve  called the CKC, and have left a message asking for their input on this situation. Hopefully, someone within their organization will feel that this is their concern. As a CKC breeder, it certainly is mine.

Addendum: A few people have written asking me for the contact information for the CFIA, and for their import specialists. Here it is, from the Equine Canada Website. For more specialized questions about importing dogs, please contact them directly.


For the Atlantics
Dr. Allan McLean
Animal Health Staff Veterinarian
Atlantic Area
Telephone: (506) 851-7871
Fax: (506) 851-3700
For Québec
Dr. Alain Lajoie
Program Specialist— Importation
Program Network—Quebec
Telephone: (514) 283-3815 (4210)
Fax: (514) 283-6214
For Ontario
Dr. Susan Wray
Program Specialist—Import
Program Network—Ontario
Telephone: (519) 826-2810
Fax: (519) 837-9771
For the West
Dr Gary Kruger
Veterinary Program Specialist
Program Network—West
Telephone: (403) 292-5825
Fax: (403) 292-6629


CFIA’s Import Rules for Importing Dogs into Canada – Repost

This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote in 2010. The rules have still not changed, although the Canadian Kennel Club, which is the body that supposedly advocates for purebred dog breeders in Canada, has been asked repeatedly to lobby CFIA and Agriculture Canada for more reasonable rules of entry.

Many of us who breed or show dogs in Canada have imported dogs from other countries. For years, all that this required was a simple rabies certificate – the same as any pet dog traveling across the border required. Effective immediately, however, dog fanciers who are flying a dog into Canada from another country have an additional paperwork requirement – a CFIA Import Certificate.

(A quick note: NONE of this applies to average pet owners who purchase a dog from Canada, or to Canadian pet owners purchasing a dog from outside of Canada, or to people traveling to or from Canada with their family pets. In both those cases, you still only need proof of rabies and a current health certificate.)

Two bodies are involved in the importation of dogs into Canada – CFIA, or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and CBSA, or Canada Border Services Agency. The CFIA governs the rules applying to dogs imported into Canada, and the CBSA enforces them.

As I mentioned, the requirements for pet dogs to travel into Canada are fairly simple – a current rabies and health certificate. The CFIA, however, has decided that dogs being imported into Canada by anyone who shows dogs, handles dogs, trains dogs, competes with dogs (for example, in agility or obedience) or breeds dogs are NOT pets – they are a commercial import.

How a puppy with an unknown potential can be considered valuable commercial goods escapes me, as I’m sure it escapes most of you. It doesn’t matter how we personally feel about this ruling, because CBSA has decided that they will be rigorously enforcing this, starting immediately, and they’re using Google to do so.

Dr. Susan Wray, DVM, of CFIA’s Guelph office, confirmed this for me, saying

“Canada Border Services will looking people up on Google”

to determine if they are a breeder or a show exhibitor. Anyone who has ever shown a dog in Canada, bred a litter in Canada, or otherwise been involved in activities which can be defined as breeding, handling, training or showing dogs  is now subject to this classification.

Dr. Wray also told me that anyone bringing a dog to the USA for showing, or with a dog returning from showing in the USA, should be exempt from this restriction, so long as it’s a dog they already own.

According to Dr. Wray, they should be prepared, however, to prove that they,

a) already own the dog and

b) that it’s been out of the country and why.

This would mean either proof of show entries, or for those who send their dogs out of the country for breeding, proof that their owned dog was sent away to be bred.

Irregardless of how nonsensical all of this seems, we’d all do well not to ignore it.  As of last week, four dogs that I know of were denied entry at Pearson Airport, for the lack of a simple form costing just $35.00 .

“Denied entry”, by the way, means just that – they were returned to their original shipping country, which in one case was Chile – and that’s a return flight of another 24 hours, with the receiving person being responsible for these charges and fees. And don’t expect that pricey ‘commercial broker’ that you hired to get your dog into Canada to know anything about these forms, either – in at least one case, the dog’s importation was arranged via a pet brokerage firm that was blithely unaware of this not-s0-new requirement. Not only did they screw up, they also refused to take any financial responsibility for it, saying, in essence “Hey, we got the dog to Canada – it’s not our fault we can’t get him through customs, too”.

The new regulations require that anyone fitting into the categories I mentioned above must fill out and file a CFIA Form, which you can obtain here –

There’s an addendum also required:

The following protocol then applies:

Fill out and complete both forms, following the instructions listed on them. Submit them, per the instructions on the form, and you should receive back your permit within 3-5 business days. The scheduled fee is $35.00

Don’t forget, you must also get the person shipping the dog to you to obtain all of the required paperwork as outlined on this form. This basically means an Official Export Health Certificate (this is NOT just a regular health certificate issued by a veterinarian, but rather a document specified by the seller’s country of origin). If the dog is over three months of age, it must have received a rabies shot, and the dog must also have been permanently identified via microchip before leaving the country of origin.

For more information, visit the AIRS (Automated Import Reference System) website, at

Once there, choose “DOGS” as the commodity you are searching for
then the appropriate age (over or under 8 months)
then the country or region of origin
then end use ‘commercial’

You’ll then be presented with the list of requirements which you must have, including the section which specifies that you must obtain an import permit from CFIA.

You should, additionally, have a receipt from the dog’s breeder/seller showing the amount that you paid for the dog, and you should be prepared to possibly pay duty.

Have fun reading through it all – there’s a lot to digest.

More reading –

CFIA Forces Canadian Breeders to Partner with USDA Puppy Mills

USDA Inspected Kennel Kills 1,000 plus Dogs

In which I meet a Puggle Breeder – Repost

The parking lot should have been my first clue. Not content to just fill every spot, there are cars parked on the grassy verge next to the clinic, cars parked on the shoulder of the road in front of the clinic, and cars double parked in front of each other.

Going inside, it doesn’t get much better.

This is possibly the most crowded veterinary waiting room I’ve ever seen, and I’ve sat in Guelph’s waiting room more than a few times. Tula and I are crowded in next to a man with a tiny, sweater wearing Yorkie on his lap. Across from us sits a big, bully headed cross breed of some type or another.  It’s probably one of those mystery blends that are being marketed as ‘rare’ – a Victorian Bulldog or some such thing. Whatever it is, it’s adorable, and it’s stressed out. A baby sits next to it in a stroller, and every so often, when the baby shrieks in excitement, the bully leans over and licks the baby on the shin, eyes shining with worry. Mom tells me that her Bully loves the baby more than she loves anyone else in the house, and it’s clear that she not exagerating in the least.

There’s an adolescent Doberman, looking like nothing so much as gazelle in dog form, all gawkiness until it moves, when it become fluid and graceful. An older European couple have matching black and white Shih Ttzu type dogs on their laps, and one more peeks out of the sweater of the girl sitting next to them. There’s a Great Dane by the door, a quietly watchful Border Collie sitting behind a potted plant, and a pair of madly twirling Pugs in the corner.

In the middle of all these dogs sits a woman with a single cat in a carrier. The cat is keeping just as quiet and just as still as it possibly can, and I am thinking to myself that I would not want to be the tech who has to try to take that cat out of the carrier.

Tula is anxious about all of this, but she behaves herself like a lady. Every so often, when another dog really worries her, she’ll reach up and pat one paw on my leg, staring at me with her liquid brown eyes. I ruffle her ears and tell her it’s all fine.

Most of the dogs are well behaved, especially given the stress and the crowding and the long, long wait times. We’d arrived at nine to check in for Tula’s spay, and had been waiting for forty minutes when the woman with the Puggle walked in. As soon as she came in the door, she began a litany of the same command – “Sit sit sit sit sit, you sit now, sit good boy, sit sit sit”. Not once did the dog do anything even remotely approaching a sit, but every once in a while, as he was leaping at her legs and twining the leash around ankles, she’d reach down and pet him, telling him he was a “good good boy, momma’s good boy”, so it’s possible he had been immaculately trained to act like a lunatic.

Every word she said to her dog was pronounced in a loud tone that was obviously meant to draw attention. She’d tell her dog to ‘sit sit sit’, and when he ignored her she’d look around the room, smiling proudly, waiting for us all to acknowledge the utter adorableness of her dog’s behaviour. The breeder sitting across from me had a gaggle of puppies in a crate at her foot, none of which had made a sound since we’d arrived. She and I looked at each other, shrugged, and rolled our eyes, which left me too distracted to notice that there was an empty seat next to me.

The Puggle Mommy sat down next to me, while her dog sprang repeatedly to the end of his flexi, lunging at every dog he could reach. She was alternating ‘sit sit sit’ with ‘good boy, momma’s boy’, and I tried to remember my New York/Toronto subway training – don’t make eye contact with the crazy people. Eventually, Puggle noticed that there was a foxy cream Frenchie standing right next to him, so he lunged at Tula and proceeded to ram his nose up her butt.

Tula, as I said, is a good girl, but her patience for boys is nonexistant, outside of those one or two times a year when she’s willing to pursue them like a liquored up Cougar at a team sports bar. The rest of the time, Tula would be quite happy to see boys all kept on some remote island where there are no boats, which is pretty much just what she told the Puggle. There were teeth and snarling ‘and get the hell away from me, you misbegotten wretch’ type insults flung in his general direction. Puggle, being not altogether stupid, immediately backed off, giving Tula a concilatory play bow and tail wiggle.

His mom, on the other hand, was laughing indulgently at the antics of her ‘good good boy’, and when Tula snarled at him she proclaimed (loudly), “Oh honey, she just thinks you’re too studly for her, with all your manliness, so leave that little girl be”. She then beamed at me, clearly waiting for me to agree with her. When I didn’t, she took a closer look at Tula and said ‘what kind of dog is that?’.

‘French Bulldog’.

‘Oh, French Bulldog. I’ve never seen one before. Where did you get it?’

‘I bred her’.

‘Oh, do you breed them? I’m a breeder, too!’.

She was practically ready to explode with excitement, and happily shared with me that she had a litter at home (of course) of ten (naturally) “Pure Bred” Puggles. I was as polite as I could possibly be, but I couldn’t help asking “Aren’t puggles a cross between Beagles and Pugs?”. ‘No, no’ she protested – hers weren’t like that. Hers were all real purebred Puggles. I was just too tired to either fight about it or to try to educate, so I shrugged and went back to my magazine. Two minutes later, Puggle mom asked me ‘So is she spaded?’ (yes, really – she really said “spaded”, I swear to God).

‘No, she’s here today to be spayed’.

‘Oh, that’s too bad. Can you imagine what cute puppies they would have?’, as she indicated her dog, which was busy trying to strangle itself on the end of her flexi lead. I couldn’t help looking at her with an expression that I’m sure was three parts incredulity, and one part disgust. I pondered all the things I could say, and settled for just shrugging again, and going back to my magazine.

Tula and I finally got called to go in to the office and meet with the vet. When I left, Puggle lady was busy telling the European couple next to her that she still had puppies available for sale, for just “$200 for purebred ones”, and “wouldn’t Sheezoos crossed with Puggles be darling?”.

Her dog was peeing on the potted plant.