How Do Dogs Sweat? What You Didn’t Know
Sweating is a natural and healthy process that occurs in a lot of animals. As part of this process, liquid is produced out of their sweat gland, which evaporates to leave a cooling sensation. Dogs don’t sweat the same way that most other animals do, and you’ll hardly find your dog soaked in sweat. But they are not missing out on anything since they are capable of regulating their body temperature. They have unique methods of regulating their temperature and some of them will be discussed in this article. After reading the article, you will discover new facts about how your dog sweats. This way you will be in a better position to assist your dog in achieving optimum body temperature.
How Do Dogs Sweat
Dogs’ bodies have a cooling mechanism that is detected by the hypothalamus in the brain when their body temperature is too high. One way by which dogs sweat is through the glands present on their ear canals and the pads of their paws. The organs are Merocrine glands and the Apocrine glands. The Merocrine glands work like the sweat glands in humans, aiding in cooling the body by releasing sweat through the paws. Evaporation of sweat is essential in body temperature reduction and since dogs are covered with fur, that might be challenging, hence the use of the feet. The Apocrine glands perform other functions like releasing pheromones for scent marking as well as a way to help dogs getaway in dangerous situations. It is not far-fetched to find your dog sweating in sleep via its paws. You will notice the pup sleep while on its back with its legs in the air to expose them to cooler air. Sweat from the paws can also make your dog smell more than usual on hot days since the feet become breeding ground for microorganisms.
Why is Sweating Important?
Sweating is a form of temperature regulation that most mammals engage in to support healthy bodily functions. Dogs, like other warm-blooded animals, need to maintain a fixed body temperature no matter the temperature in the environment. The average internal body temperature for dogs is 101.5°F, with the figure being slightly lower for small dogs and marginally higher for large ones. Due to the nature of the chemical processes that keep mammals alive, it is vital that the body temperature stays consistent. These chemical interactions function best at specific temperatures and any deviation might cause problems. The processes, which include the breakdown of waste, energy release from food and brain function, are the responsibility of enzymes. Enzymes are denatured at very high temperatures, meaning they have been mangled and cannot perform normally. Low temperatures also can affect the quality of their performance, thereby affecting the body as a whole. With all these at stake, it is obvious why sweating or cooling off is essential to dogs and other mammals.
How Do Dogs Cool Down?
There are other methods besides sweating that aid in body heat reduction that are more beneficial than the glands, and they are as follows:
- Panting: Because of the limited capability of the sweat glands, dogs resort to panting to stay cool. It is characterized by fast, shallow breathing accompanied by a lolling tongue. This motion allows them to exchange cold air in the environment with hot air in the lungs. This increases the rate of evaporation of water from inside their mouth, their tongue, and the upper respiratory tract, thereby facilitating the reduction of temperature. Panting also picks up moisture from the mouth and nose into the lungs, absorbing heat from the body along the way. When the air is exhaled, some of the excess heat comes out with it. This mechanism is useful since water holds heat better than air, and it is one reason why dogs have a wet nose. If the question ‘do dogs sweat through their nose’ comes up, the answer will be positive, except that the wetness is not primarily for cooling. The moisture on the nose is more for the absorption of scents but is instrumental in body temperature regulation.
- Vasodilation: This occurs when hot blood it transferred directly to the surface of the skin to cool before returning to the heart. The blood vessels in areas like the face and ears dilate for this transfer to occur and the heat is radiated away. This method is more beneficial after the dog has engaged in some vigorous activity and the external temperature is cooler than their body. It helps cool the entire body of the dog and not just specific parts. The dog’s coat plays a role in insulating it but when exposed to the warm heat for long, it cannot do much.
When you notice your dog becoming excessive with these methods of cooling, it is an indication that there is a more severe issue. Overheating can cause death in your dog and your dog will pant more, become flushed around the ears, underbelly and muzzle, and be warm to touch. When you notice that their saliva is also thickened and their gums are also reddened, then it is a sign that your dog is overheating. You can help by taking the dog indoors into a cool shade and provide them with clean water. You can also acquire a cooling vest to help them stay cool. Some dogs are predisposed to getting hot and, in such cases, the best thing to do is to visit the veterinarian for tips.
Sweating plays a vital role in healthy body function and should be taken seriously. Dogs sweat but the glands are not enough to cool their bodies, hence they have reinforcement strategies like panting and vasodilation. The fur on dogs helps keep them insulated from heat but when the temperature is continuous, it might backfire, and they will become hot. The best thing to do for your pup is to ensure they are hydrated and spend enough time in some shade. If, at any point, you cannot help your dog at home, visit the veterinarian who is in a better position to help.