After a long run or on a hot summer day, you might have noticed your dog panting restlessly. They let their tongues out or look for a shed to cool off. It is not unusual for your puppy to pant, but do dogs sweat as well?
Contrary to the common misconception, dogs do sweat. Like with humans, your pup’s sweat evaporates to cool down their bodies. Sweating is actually a psychological reaction to the hot temperature where sweat glands produce salty water. When this salted water evaporates from your dog’s body, it takes away energy, hence cooling down their temperature.
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How Do Dogs Sweat?
Sweating might be mutual in humans and dogs, but they don’t sweat the way we do. That’s because dogs only release sweat from certain areas of their bodies. They have two kinds of sweat glands: merocrine glands and apocrine glands.
Merocrine glands function similarly to our sweat glands. When your dog’s temperature rises, these glands secrete watery moisture to calm down the heat. The Textbook of Small Animal Surgery states that merocrine glands are tubular and coiled, found primarily in a dog’s footpads. But why footpads? Since most dogs have a thick coat, sweat gets trapped under their fur and leaves no room for evaporation. This fails to cool down your pooch. For this reason, the sweat glands are located in other parts of their body, preferably, paw pads, hence making sure that your pup’s sweat evaporates efficiently.
So do dogs sweat through paws? Yes. On a sunny day, if you happen to see watery paw prints on a dry surface, that may be your dog sweating.
On the other hand, apocrine glands do not serve the same purpose as merocrine glands do- apocrine glands do not stabilize your pup’s temperature. These glands are found all over a dog’s body. They are responsible for secreting pheromones, chemicals that help dogs in identifying each other through scent.
How Else Can Your Dog Keep Their Cool?
Although your dog’s merocrine glands produce moisture to cool them down, sweat plays only a small role in regulating their heated temperature. The primary cooling mechanism in canines is panting. When dogs pant, they evaporate moisture from their inner mouth, tongues, nasal passages, and their lungs’ lining. As the air passes through these moist surfaces, dogs feel cooled.
Another way your dog can cool themselves is through a process called vasodilation. It simply refers to the expansion of blood vessels. Vasodilation occurs when dogs feel hot. The blood vessels (mostly in your pup’s ears and faces) expand to bring the warm blood closer to their skin, where the external cold air calms down the warm blood. Then, the cooled blood is sent back to your dog’s heart to stabilize their internal temperature.
When your dog feels hot, you might have noticed their skin to be slightly red or flushed; it may be because they’re going through vasodilation.
Signs That Your Dog Is Overheated
Dogs may have cooling mechanisms to alter their heated temperature, but they aren’t always effective. It means that your pooch can be prone to overheating regardless of their panting, sweat glands, or vasodilation. In fact, overheating in dogs can take several severe forms, including heat stress, heat exhaustion, and, consequently, heatstroke.
Here are some of the common signs of an overheated dog:
- Redness around the gums
- Rapid breathing
- Excessive/unusual drooling and panting
- Very warm to the touch/ body temperature over 41 degrees Celsius
- Lack of coordination
- Tremors or seizures
If you notice any of these signs in your pooch, get them out of the heat immediately. Take them somewhere cool (most preferably in bathtubs) and provide them with plenty of water. Call your vet if possible. They can further guide you on the procedures to reduce your dog’s temperature.
Overheated dogs are also prone to the risk of heat strokes. Heat strokes occur when your pup’s body temperature rises steeply. If left untreated, these strokes can be fatal in dogs. According to Dr. Jerry Klein, the American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary Officer, dogs with short muzzles like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston terriers are especially at risk of suffering from heat strokes. Because of their short noses and flat faces, these canines cannot breathe and pant enough to cool themselves as efficiently as other breeds.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool?
Since dogs do not have cooling mechanisms efficient enough to escape from overheating, keeping them cool during the summer months is essential. When it comes to regulating your pup’s temperature, here are a few things you need to pay attention to:
- Check the weather before you head outside with your pooch for a long run. You might want to stretch indoors if the forecast is hotter than usual.
- Exercise your dog either early in the morning or at the end of the day, when it starts to cool down.
- Make sure you don’t leave your pup unattended in the car. Massive heat can be trapped inside cars in the summer season and if your dog is locked inside, they can develop non-fever hyperthermia symptoms and can even suffer from heat strokes.
- Provide your dog with plenty of cool, fresh water.
- When outdoors, make sure your furry friend is placed in a shaded area.
- If you’ve been playing fetch and chase with them, give your dog sufficient time to rest and pant. It will help your dog with the cooling process properly.
- Giving them cool baths occasionally can also reduce the risks of overheating.
- On hotter days, keep your home environment at a comfortable temperature for your dog.
- Additionally, you can also suit them up with cooling vests to keep them cool for a longer time.
Following these advices will certainly help avoid critical heath situations in your dog.
Do dogs sweat? Yes, they do. But not enough to resist overheating and its dangers. Although your pup has cooling mechanisms to cool themselves down, heat strokes and overheating in dogs cannot be completely omitted. Knowing what happens when your puppy overheats and how they can be cooled off can help you regulate their body temperature. It will indeed help you take good care of your canine companion.
Have you seen your dog sweat through their little paws? Let us know how you cool down their temperature in the comments below. Visit our website for more information on dog health.