The human body cools itself down during hot weather or vigorous exercise using one method: sweating. As the sweat on your skin evaporates, it cools you down. But your dog, of course, is covered in fur. So how do our canine companions’ bodies cool themselves in the summer months?
Panting is your dog’s primary way of cooling off. When your pup pants, moisture starts to evaporate from their tongue, as well as from the nasal passages and the lining of the lungs. Then, the air produced by panting passes over these moist tissues, effectively lowering your dog’s body temperature. It’s actually very similar to the way sweat evaporates off of our skin to cool us down!
Have you ever noticed your dog’s face get a bit flushed and wrinkly when they’ve exercised in hot weather? That’s because of something called vasodilation. Vasodilation means that your dog’s blood vessels expand, or dilate. When Fido gets hot, blood vessels around the body expand and bring warm blood closer to the skin’s surface, where it cools down. Then, that cooler blood cycles back to the heart to lower your dog’s internal temperature.
Although dogs don’t sweat the way humans do, they do possess sweat glands. In fact, they have two types.
Merocrine glands are located in your dog’s paw pads, and start producing sweat when your dog gets hot in order to cool the body down. If these glands were located around the body, the sweat they produce would simply be absorbed by the fur, rendering it useless—that’s why they’re located in the paw pads.
Apocrine glands are located all over your dog’s body, but they don’t produce sweat in order to regulate body temperature. Instead, they release pheromones that dogs use to identify one another.
No matter how your dog keeps himself cool, it’s your job to make sure he doesn’t overheat. Don’t leave your pet outdoors in hot, humid weather for long periods of time —bring him indoors frequently so he can cool off. And make sure that your pooch has plenty of fresh water to drink at all times. Water is essential for cooling the body down and preventing dangerous dehydration in hot weather!
Would you like more tips for keeping your dog safe this summer? Give us a call today—we’re here to help.