We humans sweat when we exert ourselves. This helps us cool down and bring our body temperature back to normal. You may have heard that dogs, unlike humans, can’t sweat. But is that even true?
It is a common misconception that dogs do not sweat at all. Dogs do sweat via glands on their paws that are similar to human sweat glands. On hot days, you can even see wet paw prints.
Sweating is completely normal for dogs. They sweat most often when they are exerting themselves or recovering from exertion.
Dogs can also sweat when they are sleeping, when it is hot outside, or when they are a little stressed or anxious.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about dog sweating, the signs of overheating, and how to prevent it.
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Where Do Dogs Sweat?
Dogs sweat mainly through the sweat glands in their paws. Dog owners can often see a trail of wet paw prints from sweat on nervous or stressed dogs or on hot days.
It’s true that dogs sweat mainly through their paw pads. But some people believe that they also sweat through other glands on hairy parts of their bodies.
However, this sweating mechanism is less well-known and less well-researched than the sweat glands on the paw pads.
How Do Dogs Sweat?
A dog’s skin is a complex organ with many layers that help it sweat and cool down.
For example, the sweat glands on a dog’s paw pads are known as eccrine sweat glands. They are also found on a dog’s nose, although it is unclear whether these glands have a cooling function.
Some scientists believe that in addition to regulating body temperature, the sweat glands on a dog’s paws may help improve traction.
Dogs also have another type of sweat gland called apocrine sweat glands. These are located in the dermis, a deeper layer of the skin.
The apocrine sweat glands are the same glands that are responsible for sweating in humans. But in dogs, they serve a slightly different purpose.
The primary purpose of these glands is to release natural scents, not to sweat.
Because of a dog’s hairy skin, sweating in these regions would be inefficient and cause the hairs to stick together.
When the hairs stick together, they form an insulating barrier over the skin, making it difficult for heat to escape when the body is hot.
How Do Dogs Cool Their Bodies Other Than by Sweating?
Sweating alone is not enough to cool a hot dog. This is because the limited number of sweat glands is not enough to cool the dog.
Dogs use other bodily functions to cool themselves instead. When a dog overheats, it is primarily panting.
So if your dog starts panting heavily, he is most likely trying to regulate his body temperature.
Panting works like an internal air conditioner. When your dog breathes in the air quickly, the fluid in his mouth, throat, and lungs evaporates.
This, in turn, helps circulate cooler air around the body and helps the dog regulate its temperature.
In addition, dogs also use vasodilation to cool themselves down. This is a dilation of the blood vessels called vasodilation.
Vasodilation brings warm blood closer to the surface of the skin, especially the ears and face, allowing the dog to lower its body temperature.
Is My Dog Overheated?
Heat stroke is a very dangerous condition that occurs when your dog is unable to cool down and regulate his temperature.
In this potentially fatal condition, your dog’s body temperature rises excessively.
Signs that your dog is overheating include:
- Excessive panting: Panting is an important way for your dog to cool down. But your dog may be overheated if his panting is constant and intense or starts out of nowhere.
- Dehydration: Signs of dehydration in dogs include a dry nose and gums, sunken eyes, and a loss of skin elasticity.
- High body temperature: A dog’s average body temperature should be between 99.5 and 102.5 °F (37.5 and 39.2 °C). If it is above this level, he is overheated. Purchase a dog thermometer so you can easily keep track of your dog’s temperature.
- Excessive drooling: While a certain amount of drooling is normal, your dog may drool excessively if overheated. However, some dog breeds drool more than others, such as Basset Hounds, Boxers, Bloodhounds, and Bulldogs, so you should find out how much drooling is typical for your dog.
- Irregular heartbeat: The average heart rate of dogs is 60 to 140 beats per minute. However, heat stroke can cause a faster or irregular heartbeat. Find out how to measure your dog’s heart rate so you can determine if it is faster or more irregular than normal.
- Vomiting: There are, of course, a number of factors that can trigger vomiting.
But if it’s accompanied by other symptoms of heat stroke, your dog may need to see a veterinarian.
- Reddened gums: A dog’s gums are usually a light pink or salmon color. However, if your dog’s gums are bright cherry red, this may be a sign of overheating.
- Muscle tremors: As heat stroke progresses, you may notice that your dog’s muscles begin to shake and twitch.
- Seizures: Heat stroke can cause your dog to stumble, collapse, lose consciousness, or convulse.
What Should I Do if My Dog is Overheated?
If your dog shows signs of heat stroke, seek veterinary care immediately. Call ahead and make sure your dog stays cool while in the car.
It is not recommended to immerse your dog in cold water or use ice packs. This can cause blood vessels to constrict, which initially leads to decreased heat output.
Instead, place your dog on a cooling mat and wet it with room-warm or cold water.
If possible, point a fan at the dog.
How to Protect Your Dog from Overheating
Dogs do sweat and pant to cool themselves, but their temperature regulation system isn’t quite as efficient as ours.
Unfortunately, this means your dog is more likely to overheat when the weather starts to get hotter.
That’s why it’s important to know the signs of heat stroke and how to keep your dog cool and safe.
We’ve put together some tips you can use to keep your dog from overheating:
- Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.
- Keep your home at a comfortable temperature – between 68 and 77 °F (20 and 25 °C), depending on the season.
- Always provide cool, fresh water for your dog. Some dogs also love to lick ice cubes.
- Keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day.
- Offer your dog frozen treats when it is hot outside.
- Try to protect your dog with hats or umbrellas when outside.
- Walk your dog during the coolest times of the day, which is usually early morning and late evening.
- Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside and is not left unattended for long periods of time.
- Use extra caution when walking or playing outside if your dog is prone to heat stroke.
This includes flat-faced breeds and those with thick, heavy coats.
- Some dogs like a cooling full-body mist from a spray bottle filled with water.
- If your dog loves water, set up a small wading pool in the shade and fill it with cool, but not too cold, water. Remember to change the water regularly and don’t let it get too hot.
Summary: Can Dogs Sweat?
Dogs can sweat just like humans. However, they sweat differently than we do.
Dogs sweat mainly through sweat glands on their paws, which is why you can sometimes find wet paw prints on hot days.
Other ways for a dog to cool its body are by panting and by dilating blood vessels.
Overall, however, temperature regulation in dogs is not quite as efficient as it is in humans.
Therefore, dogs are more prone to overheating or heat stroke than we are.
Therefore, look out for signs of overheating, especially on hot days. This can be very dangerous for dogs.