With temperatures steadily climbing this summer, it’s important to keep ourselves and our dogs cool. Humans sweat to stay cool, but do dogs sweat?
Do dogs sweat?
Dogs sweat, but not like humans. While sweat glands are designed to help cool the body, dogs don’t release heat in the same way. Dogs do have some sweat glands, but they have far fewer than humans, and their skin is covered with fur, so this minimizes the amount of cooling sweat can provide.
The two glands that can produce sweat in dogs are the merocrine and apocrine glands.
The merocrine glands are located on the pads of your dog’s paws. When your dog gets too hot, they sweat. Apocrine glands are used as a form of social interaction. Although they are technically sweat glands, they do not produce sweat. They are all over the body, and these spots emit pheromones that our pets use to identify each other. Your dog isn’t using them to cool off, but to make friends.
Because this surface area is so small, dogs have other built-in methods of temperature regulation, making their “sweat” their primary means of self-cooling.
How does a dog calm down?
Since sweating isn’t the dog’s primary source of regulating body temperature and keeping cool, what is? Panting is the primary method, while vasodilation is the second most important method for dogs to stay cool.
Panting is moderate to rapid open mouth breathing, usually accompanied by a large languid tongue. Panting can help your dog calm down. When they gasp, they rapidly exchange hot air from their lungs with cooler air outside, which accelerates the evaporation of water from the tongue, mouth, and upper airways. As the water evaporates, it helps regulate their body temperature, thereby cooling them down.
Vasodilation refers to dilation, or dilation, or blood vessels. When your dog gets hot, vasodilation helps cool them down. The blood vessels in their faces and ears dilate, bringing warm blood directly to the surface of the skin, allowing the blood to cool before returning to the heart.
dog heat stroke
Despite your dog’s natural cooling process, dogs are still prone to overheating and heat stroke. Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when our dog’s body temperature rises to within a healthy range and they are unable to regulate their own body temperature. This condition can range from mild heatstroke to severe, where your dog may lose consciousness, experience organ failure and die.
Dog caregivers should pay close attention to the weather and their dog before going for a run, walk, or spending time outdoors. The most common cause of heatstroke is leaving a dog in a vehicle with insufficient ventilation, and within minutes a dog’s body temperature can rise to dangerously high levels. Other common causes are being left outside in shade or water, prolonged exposure to a hair dryer, and excessive play or exercise in the heat.
- Signs your dog is overheating include
- Excessive panting
- Redness of the gums, mouth, nose, and ears
- excessive drooling
- body feels warm
- tremors or tremors
- loss of coordination
- Elevated body temperature (If a dog’s body temperature exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit, this is considered abnormal. A temperature around 106 degrees is considered heat stroke.)
If you see any of the above, take your dog to a cool place, provide your dog with water, and contact your veterinarian.
Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs (plane dogs with restricted airways) are at greater risk for heatstroke, which can occur even at moderately elevated temperatures.
Protect your dog from heat
Because dogs don’t sweat like humans, dog caregivers must be proactive about keeping dogs cool and comfortable. Here are some tips on how to prevent heatstroke.
- Provide your dog with a cool, well-ventilated space. Good ventilation is essential, as dogs dissipate heat by panting, which relies on good airflow.
- Your dog should always have access to fresh, clean drinking water
- Avoid walking and other outdoor activities with your dog during the heat. Walk your dog early in the morning or after dusk to avoid the hottest times of the day. Bring water on long walks and rest in the shade if necessary.
- Learn about your dog’s medical history and symptoms of overheating. Dogs at increased risk for heat stroke include older dogs, dogs with obesity or heart disease, brachycephalic, large breeds, and dogs with extremely thick coats.
- If using a muzzle, use a basket muzzle that allows the dog to pant. The nylon muzzle prevents the dog from panting and causing overheating. Dogs pant to calm down, but also during times of fear and stress, not allowing them to pant increases fear and stress. When properly installed, the basket muzzle allows your dog to pant and drink. If you use a muzzle, it is advisable to train your dog to enjoy wearing a muzzle.
- Never leave your dog in an unattended parking lot. On a humid and/or hot day, partially rolling down the windows won’t help.Research shows that even if the outside temperature is 72 degrees, the temperature inside a car can soar to 116 degrees in an hour
- Give your dog frozen dog treats, including dog ice cream or frozen dog popsicles.
As you and your canine companion begin to enjoy the warm weather, don’t forget the importance of drinking cool water and taking a break from the air conditioner. Even if your pet is used to the summer heat, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day, provide plenty of rest, and watch for signs of fatigue or illness.