The Two Types of Canine Sweat Glands
Let’s look at how dogs cool down their bodies and answer the question; how do dogs sweat? You might be wondering why your dog can go on a run in the middle of summer, and you don’t have a dog soaked in sweat! You may be wondering, “why do dogs lick sweat?”, “do dogs sweat through their paws?” or “where do dogs sweat through?”.
Just because we can’t notice sweat coming from their bodies, it doesn’t mean dogs do not sweat. So, where are dogs’ sweat glands? Dogs have two dog sweat glands called merocrine glands (the most similar to human sweat glands) and apocrine glands.
The merocrine glands are within the paw pads of your dog, and you can notice wet paw prints on the ground when they are sweating through the pads to keep themselves cool. The apocrine glands have a different purpose which doesn’t assist with cooling down. Instead, it contains their scent pheromones to identify each other.
What is the Purpose of Canine Panting?
Often owners see their dogs panting when they are boiling and ask, “do dogs sweat through their tongues?”. While dogs do not have dog sweat glands in their mouths or on their tongues, panting is the primary way they lower their body temperature.
The way panting cools down a dog’s body is through the evaporation of the moisture on the tongue and the evaporation of the moist lining of the lungs to cool them down. This is very similar to the way humans cool down; as the sweat evaporates from our bodies, it helps our body temperature to lower.
Sometimes owners are confused when dogs lick their sweat, so why do dogs lick their sweat? Our dogs love our scent and like the taste of salt, and when we sweat, our skin tastes salty.
Does Hair/Fur Make a Dog Hot?
You might see a big, fluffy husky walking around in the middle of summer and think the owners should shave their fur to keep them cool. However, this would make them more susceptible to heatstroke!
Dogs that have double-layer coats should never be shaved. This destroys their insular coat’s purpose and will cause overheating. The inner coat regularly sheds in summer and serves as the insulating coat that regulates your dog’s body temperature.
When the insulating coat is shaved, it will eliminate the insulating properties of the dog’s coat, damage the follicles, and cause disrupted hair growth. The insular layer will also help retain heat during the winter if properly maintained.
If you are unsure whether your dog would benefit from being shaved to help handle the heat, consult your veterinarian, as they will be able to tell you if your dog is double-coated.
How Keep Your Dog Cool?
Keeping your dog cool is mainly about being intelligent, proactive dog owners by ensuring your dog is in a cool environment at the hottest times of the day and not exposing them to exercise or excessive sunlight at the hottest parts of the day.
If you live in a hot, sunny climate, it is essential to give your dog a cool, shady area to rest and ensure they have access to large amounts of fresh water at all times. They can overheat very quickly if they are left outside without a shady place to find shelter.
Even if you do not find it hot outside, your dog may be raising their body temperature from excessive energy and exercise. Add on their fur coat, and you can see how a dog can overheat while playing outside, even in mild temperatures!
It is best to avoid exercise during the hottest times of the day. It is much better to exercise with your dog during the morning or evening when the sun is not so harsh during the summer. Even if you are not hot, imagine that you are wearing a fur coat and running around chasing a ball in direct sunlight!
Another way to keep your dog cool is with a chicken stock ice lick, which is very easy to make! Simply freeze some chicken stock and allow the dog to lick the ice and cool down. There are also cooling vests available to purchase if you feel your dog is in danger of overheating.
If you find your dog is excessively overheating and showing signs of heatstroke, it is essential to never shock their system by splashing them with ice-cold water. Instead, you want to gradually bring their temperature down with room temperature water and mild exposure to a towel-covered ice pack.
How do Dogs Cool Down on Their Own?
We know that dogs can regulate their body temperature through sweating and panting, but how else does a dog cool down? Dogs can use a method of temperature regulation known as vasodilation.
The blood vessels will expand and bring the hot blood to the skin’s surface, allowing it to cool down. The cool blood will then flow back towards the heart, which will help bring down the body’s temperature.
Double-coated dogs will also regulate their temperature because of their insular layer of fur, so it is essential not to shave them if you believe they are overheating. If you have a double coat dog, try keeping them cool by preventing exposure to the harsh sunlight or exercising at the hottest points of the day.
Can Dogs Sweat Too Much?
If you constantly notice wet paw prints, you may be asking, why is my dog sweating so much? Dogs do not sweat excessively to keep cool, and we are unsure if dogs are prone to excessive sweating as a medical condition. However, you may notice your dog sweats more when they are stressed.
When you can visibly see the wet shape of their paw prints on a solid surface, this is your best indication that you have a sweating dog. It may be induced by a stressful situation that your dog is experiencing.
It has been speculated that the excess moisture works to provide better traction on solid surfaces, which would allow the dog to run away easier from the thing causing them fear or stress. However, this condition generally only appears when they are stressed and will calm down as soon as they are back to their natural state.
You may want to consult your veterinarian if you notice your dog is sweating a lot from their paws and assess what could be causing stress in their life. Often you will see your dog’s sweaty paw prints while they are at the vet, as going to the vet can be a stressful experience for our pets.
Try to identify what is causing them stress in their life and either remove them from the situation or work with your pet to desensitize them to the anxious situation if it can’t be avoided.
How do I Know if My Dog is Overheating?
Heatstroke can be a severe condition for dogs and may result in a visit to the emergency hospital! Unfortunately, we typically see heatstroke when dog owners are not correctly educated on protecting their dogs from the heat and sun.
Dogs have various ways to cool themselves down when they are hot, but sometimes this isn’t enough, especially when subjected to exercise or harsh sunlight without any area to hide.
If your dog is displaying a combination of the following symptoms, then this may be a good indicator that your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion:
- Excessive salivation.
- Bright red gums.
- Heavy panting.
- Bad coordination.
- Fast or irregular heart rate.
- Warm to touch.
- Seizures or muscle tremors.
It is essential to immediately remove your dog from direct sunlight or heat if displaying these signs. Ideally, move them to a shaded area or indoor air-conditioning and provide them with drinking water.
Some owners make the mistake of trying to cool their dog down too quickly and end up shocking the dog’s body system with cold water or ice baths. This can be very dangerous, and instead, you should gradually bring down their temperature at a safe pace.
You may lay wet towels on them (with room temperature water) and move them to a cool place. If your dog is experiencing severe signs of heatstroke, please contact your veterinarian. It is advised to take action as soon as you notice the milder symptoms of heatstroke to prevent them from developing much more severe symptoms such as seizures and loss of consciousness.
Of course, the best way to handle heatstroke is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. So when it is scorching and sunny outside, limit the dog’s exercise to morning and evening, and always make sure you provide them with a shaded area to cool down and plenty of drinking water!
Summer with your dog can be so much fun, and while we want to spend every minute enjoying the sunshine with our pets, it is essential to be responsible pet owners and avoid putting your loved ones in dangerous situations.
If your pet starts displaying signs of overheating, you should immediately take them to a cool area to cool down and lower their overall body temperature. This can prevent the more severe symptoms of heatstroke and keep you and your pet enjoying the sunshine!