If you live in a humid country or you've just taken your pooch on a long walk, you might be wondering how your four-legged friend keeps cool. Canine anatomy is (obviously) very different from human anatomy, and our bodies have different ways of cooling off when the temperature rises. One common question from pet parents is, "If dogs don't sweat, how do they stay cool?" Here's everything you need to know about perspiration in dogs and how to keep your furry friend fresh when the heat is on.
Do dogs sweat?
It's a common misconception that dogs don't sweat. While dogs don't perspire across their whole body the same way humans do, they still sweat in specific areas. Your pup actually has two different types of sweat glands: merocrine glands and apocrine glands.
Apocrine glands don't actually help your dog cool down — these glands found all over the body release pheromones. These pheromones are what your dog's sniffing when they're saying hello to one of their puppy pals.
Merocrine glands function similarly to human sweat glands and are located solely in your pup's paws. Paw pads are the only area where sweat glands work on a pooch — dog fur is too thick for sweat to evaporate. This is why you'll notice wet paw prints on your floor on hot days.
Panting and vasodilation
Panting, rather than sweating, is the number one way your pup cools off when they feel overheated. Panting is the best way for a dog to control their body temperature. Panting helps remove moisture from the nose, tongue, and lungs. Similar to sweating in humans, the warmer your dog gets, the harder you'll find them panting.
Vasodilation is an essential part of the cool-down process. Vasodilation is the expansion of blood vessels, which moves overheated blood cells to the surface of the skin. This helps the cells cool off before they continue to move around the body.
How to Help Your Dog Stay Cool
There are several things you can do to make sure your pup doesn't overheat. You must never shave your dogs to help them cool off; fur works as an insulator that helps regulate your dog's body temperature. If you shave your pup, you'll leave them exposed to the elements, which could result in heatstroke and skin disease.
Water and shade
If you have a hyper hound who loves multiple walks a day, make sure to avoid the hottest part of the day, "pawticularly" during the summer. If your pooch spends a lot of time in the yard, make sure plenty of shade is available and leave fresh water out at all times.
Another excellent way to keep your "pawsome" pal from overheating is by turning on your garden sprinklers or filling a paddling pool for them to splash around. Your pup will love cooling off this way, and you'll have fun watching them frolic in the water. If you don't have a sprinkler or kiddie pool, soak a towel in cold water for your four-legged friend to lie down.
If you leave your dog at home on a hot day, leave on the air conditioning. While road-tripping with your furry friend, never leave them in a car unattended — temperatures can spike very quickly, leaving your pooch in serious peril.
Know your breed
Different breeds are better at keeping cool than others. If you have a brachycephalic breed, like a Pug, Boxer, or Bulldog, you'll find they pant heavier than long-nosed dog breeds. Short-nosed breeds need special care and attention when panting as their airways aren't as clear as other dog breeds. You should ensure your short-nosed dog has plenty of water and isn't left in the sun for too long, as they're more prone to heatstroke.