French bulldogs, fireworks and breathing problems: Keeping your flat-faced dog calm and safe on bonfire night
French bulldog owners need to know that fireworks and bonfire night can trigger breathing problems in Frenchies, and in other flat-faced breeds like the English bulldog too.
This article will tell you why French bulldogs find fireworks scary in the first place, and how bonfire night can potentially affect their health; as well as how to keep your Frenchie or other flat-faced dog safe and calm on Guy Fawkes night.
Why are French bulldogs scared of fireworks?
Most dogs are scared of fireworks unless they’re conditioned to ignore them from an early age, and if you didn’t know what fireworks were, you’d probably find them frightening too!
Fireworks put dogs into fight or flight mode in the face of a potential threat, even though we humans know that the threat isn’t real.
When it comes to fireworks, French bulldogs are scared of the loud or sudden noises they make (remember that dogs have more sensitive hearing than we do, and so fireworks sound particularly loud to them) as well as the sudden bright lights that follow too.
The smell of fireworks and bonfires and even the excitement in the air all create an atmosphere that is unusual and alarming to dogs, which they don’t understand and cannot control or retreat from.
How do French bulldogs react to fireworks?
How French bulldogs react to fireworks can be quite variable, but most of them will be frightened.
Fireworks scare French bulldogs and cause them to exhibit signs of stress and fear, as they trigger the dog’s fight or flight instincts.
Some will immediately look for a safe place to hide or the reassurance of their owners, some will panic and try to run away, and some may even go into “fight” mode if they feel cornered, so proceed with caution.
How does bonfire night affect French bulldog health?
Fear of fireworks in French bulldogs creates a physical stress response in their bodies, and this means that their heart rate increases, and their breathing becomes faster and shallower.
Flat-faced Frenchies have shorter muzzles than normal dogs and many have narrower nostrils too; this means that they tend to have a lower tolerance for exercise, get out of breath fairly easily, feel the heat more, and probably snore and maybe have noisy or laboured breathing when awake as well.
It also means that anything that frightens or upsets your dog and so, that affects their heart rate and breathing can be dangerous for French bulldogs. On bonfire night, firework stress in French bulldogs can result in them not being able to get enough air, triggering potentially serious breathing problems and the health implications that come with this.
It is really important to keep your French bulldog safe on bonfire night, but also to keep Frenchies calm when fireworks are going off too, as stress can cause breathing problems in flat-faced dogs.
Keeping your French bulldog safe on bonfire night
Keeping your French bulldog safe on bonfire night means keeping them inside; don’t walk French bulldogs when fireworks are going off or likely to start, and certainly don’t take them to a display or to visit a friend who is letting off fireworks.
When you take your Frenchie out to do their business, take them on a lead; even in the garden, in case a sudden bang scares them and they run off or hurt themselves. Be careful when you open external doors on bonfire night too, in case fireworks cause your Frenchie to run off in fear.
Keeping your French bulldog calm on bonfire night
Reducing firework stress in French bulldogs mean keeping your dog calm, so that their breathing remains even and doesn’t cause a threat to their health.
- Try using some calming supplements or a plug-in pheromone diffuser, and do what you can to reduce the impact of fireworks inside of the home, which means no fireworks in your own garden first of all!
- Close the curtains to reduce the effect of bangs and flashing light outside, and put the TV or radio on to help to mask noise further.
- Many Frenchies will look for somewhere to hide when fireworks are going off, and if they find a safe space (like under the duvet or sofa) don’t try to coax them out. Let them hide where they feel safest, as you will only stress them out more by trying to move them.
- However, do keep a check on your dog for signs that their breathing is becoming laboured or dangerously fast.
- If your French bulldog comes to you for comfort and reassurance, give it to them; but don’t reinforce their fears by exaggerating your own responses to things. Stay calm, speak normally, and let your dog see that there is nothing to fear.
- You can also try things to divert your dog’s attention from what is going on outside too, such as grooming them, playing with them, or letting them have some treats; but not too many, and well spread out over the evening!
- Finally, throughout the rest of the year, try to condition and expose your dog to strange and loud noises, sudden bangs and flashes in a gradual and controlled manner, to reduce the impact of bonfire night in years to come.