Spring and summer bring lots of sunshine and rising temperatures, which feel great after a long winter. But sometimes it gets too hot and we need to cool ourselves down. We, humans, use sweat to naturally cool off, but do dogs? Read on to find out if dogs sweat and what other mechanisms they use to cool themselves down.
Do Dogs Sweat?
It's a common misconception that dogs don't sweat. They actually do! But how? Dogs sweat through merocrine glands in their paws and nose, which are similar to human sweat glands. Although it's unclear whether the glands on your dog's nose help cool him or her down, the sweat glands in their paws help regulate body temperature as well as increase traction.
Dogs also "sweat" by releasing a fluid all over their bodies through apocrine glands. This isn't to cool themselves down though, but rather to spread scents and communicate with other dogs.
How Do Dogs Cool Down?
Sweating plays only a very small part in cooling down your dog, with most of the work being done by your dog's mouth through panting. Panting is vital in regulating a dog's overall body temperature and works like air conditioning. Dogs inhale air quickly, which evaporates the liquid in their mouth, throat and lungs and then sends colder air around the body.
Another way our dogs' bodies regulate heat is through an internal blood cooling process called vasodilation. During this process, blood vessels expand and rise toward the skin where they can use external air to cool down. This is why cold water is pretty effective for cooling down your dog.
How Can I Keep My Dog Cool?
Unlike humans, dogs really don't have an efficient way to regulate their body temperature. Because of this, it's important that we help keep our dogs cool during the warmer months. Here are some ways to do so:
- Keep indoor temperatures cool.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day (typically between noon and 3:00pm), instead choose to be active during cooler times (mornings and evenings).
- Keep your pup hydrated - bring along cool, clean water for your pup to drink.
- Bring a spray bottle filled with cool water to mist your dog.
- Look for shade when outside.
- Don't over-exercise your dog in the heat.
- Give your pup dog-friendly popsicles and other cold treats.
- Give your dog's coat a summer haircut (this is breed-specific, so make sure to research if your dog would benefit from a clipping).
- Never leave your dog in a hot car as it can quickly become hotter than the temperature outside.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Overheating?
Sometimes dogs can't cool themselves down enough, which can result in overheating and heatstroke. But knowing the signs of this can save your dog's life. Here are some things to watch out for with your dog in the heat:
- Heavy, labored panting
- High body temperature
- Red or purple gums
- Excessive or unusual drooling
- Lethargy and uncoordinated movements