With the dog days of summer upon us, we have the luxury of pure, delicious sweat. Sweat glands can be found nearly everywhere on the human body (most people don’t have them on their palms or soles of their feet) making it super-easy for us to cool down. But our beloved dogs — well, they’re not so lucky.
Today we’re going to take a look at body temperature and how dogs cool down — all with virtually no sweating.
So… they don’t have sweat glands?
Basically! You can find some sweat glands on the dog. Just “look at your dog’s nose, then at the pads (the underside) of your dog’s feet. The skin in both areas is kind of similar, correct? This type of skin — essentially the only skin on your dog’s body that lacks hair — is unique in that it’s the only skin that allows evaporative cooling.” It’s only these places where the dog can potentially sweat, though it probably has little overall effect on lowering body temp. (For more cool info on your dog’s nose, visit the experts at PetCoach here.)
Dangers of rising body temps
Body temperature of a healthy dog is somewhere in the 100.5 degrees F to 102.5 degrees F range. Anything higher would be considered overheating. If the poor dog hits above 107 degrees F, heatstroke can occur, and you need to seek immediate veterinary care.
Dr. Melanie reminds us that signs of heatstroke include “excessive drooling, increased body temperature, red gums, rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors and seizures among others.” Untreated, heatstroke can lead to serious complications — up to and including death.
Pro tip: Have a rectal thermometer labeled “dog” readily available so you can check your dog’s temperature when you suspect overheating. You’ll want a friend to help you, for sure.
How do they cool down?
Dogs cool down a variety of ways, but often need human help to make real traction. Fido may naturally make his way to a shady area while outside. He’ll begin panting to release excessive heat through his tongue. But other than that, he’ll need your help.
4 ways to help your dog cool down
1. Keep water available: Even if you’re going out for a brief walk, bring water for Fido to drink, if he needs it. Always keep fresh water in his bowl and make sure you make it available during a day at the lake!
2. Monitor outside time. On those unbearably hot days, make sure you monitor how long he’s chilling the backyard — because chances are he is everything but chill. You’ll definitely want to find ways for him to play and exercise inside so he isn’t in the heat.
3. Water play. Let him take a dip in the pool or shower him with the hose. Just make sure the water isn’t shockingly cold.
4. Fans. They can help cool down dogs, though not as well as they work with humans. The fan evaporates the sweat on the nose and paws, allowing new sweat to form.
Even your dog wants to have fun in the sun. Make sure he is safe and cool out there.