You may know that the human body cools itself down during hot weather or vigorous exercise using one method: sweating. As the sweat evaporates from your skin, it cools you down. Your dog, of course, is covered in fur. So how do our canine companions’ bodies cool themselves in the summer months?
Panting is Fido’s primary way of cooling himself off. When your pup pants, moisture evaporates from his tongue, as well as from his nasal passages and the lining of his lungs. The air produced by panting passes over these moist tissues, lowering your dog’s body temperature. This is actually very similar to the way sweat evaporating off our skin cools us down!
Have you ever noticed your dog’s face get a bit flushed and wrinkly when he’s exercised in hot weather? That’s because of something called vasodilation. Vasodilation is when your dog’s blood vessels expand or dilate. When Fido gets hot, blood vessels around his 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, lowering your dog’s internal temperature.
Although dogs don’t sweat the way humans do, they do possess sweat glands. In fact, they have two kinds.
The merocrine glands are located in your dog’s paw pads. These start producing sweat when Fido gets hot, in order to cool the body down.
Why the paw pads? Well, if these glands were located around your pup’s body, the sweat they produce would simply be absorbed by the fur, rendering it useless.
Apocrine glands are located all over Fido’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 furry pal keeps himself cool, it’s your job to make sure he doesn’t overheat. Never leave your pet outdoors in hot, humid weather for long periods of time. Even if he loves being outside, bring him indoors frequently so he can cool off. And make sure that your pooch has plenty of fresh, clean water to drink at all times. Water is essential for cooling the body down and preventing dangerous dehydration in hot weather! (Tip: drop an ice cube into his bowl if you like.)
Would you like more tips for keeping your dog safe this summer? Give us a call today—we’re here to help.