This common question usually has two questions behind it: do dogs sweat like people do? And how do dogs cool down when they’re hot? While there’s a little overlap in the answers, the reality behind dog sweat may surprise you.
How Do Dogs Sweat?
Dogs secrete sweat. Unlike humans, who sweat from many parts of the body, dogs only sweat from two main areas: their nose and their paw pads. This secretion is why your dog’s nose is often cold and moist, though it’s not sweating in the sense of trying to cool down. The paw pads, though, release sweat as a way of releasing body heat.
This secretion, along with the natural bacteria on your dog’s skin, is the reason why so many people say their dog’s paws smell like Fritos. Something about the chemical combination gets a little, shall we say, corn-y. It’s perfectly normal, though if it appears suddenly or changes quickly, it may be a sign that something is off in your dog’s body chemistry. Keep an eye on it and if it persists more than a few days, call your vet.
So How Do Dogs Cool Off?
Sweating through the paw pads is one way, but it hardly seems like enough. How else does a dog’s body stay cool?
Ever notice after major exercise or on a really hot day, your dog pants really heavily and his tongue about falls out of his mouth? That’s how his body is cooling off. Dogs pant as a way to increase air circulation through the nasal passages in their face, which in turn cools off their body.
Short-snouted (also called brachycephalic) dogs are at a disadvantage here. Their nasal passages are much shorter, which limits the effectiveness of panting. Owners of dogs with short snouts, such as Bulldogs and Mastiffs, need to pay special attention to their dogs in warm temperatures. They’re not built to handle it.
How Can I Help My Dog Stay Cool?
There are many things you can do to help your dog stay cool as the weather warms up. In addition, clever dog lovers have invented products that ensure your dog stays as cool as a cucumber.
1) Give him a comfortable place to spend their time.
When it’s warm out, it’s best to give your dog access to cooler spaces. This means your climate-controlled house, cool tile to lay on, and shade if they must be outdoors. If you don’t, they may seek out cool space themselves, like freshly-dug dirt or a mud puddle. Don’t forget plenty of water as well.
Clever Invention: Cooling Beds For Dogs. Even tile will warm up after your dog has been laying on it a while. This bed stays cool much longer, giving your dog a place to relax for hours.
2) Keep his paws from scalding.
When summer hits, it’s best to leave your dog at home unless absolutely necessary. Early morning outings are best if you’re in the city, as pavement has had a chance to cool off. If the temperature is 90 degrees or above, the pavement will scald your dog’s paws. Ouch.
Clever Invention: Summer Dog Boots For Hot Pavement. Not only do these boots keep your dog’s paws from touching the scorching ground, but they also deflect heat. The breathable mesh upper lets your dog’s paws breath so the sweat doesn’t leaving them smelling like Fritos.
3) Cool his body on the go.
In a dog’s body, the blood vessels are close to the skin. This means that pouring cool water over a hot dog will help cool him from the inside out. (Make sure it’s not cold water, which can cause the blood vessels to restrict and decrease the effectiveness of your attempts to cool him off.) Don’t want to wander around with a wet dog? Soak a bandanna in water and tie it around his neck. The major blood vessels in his neck will cool off and carry that coolness to the rest of the body.
Clever Invention: Cooling Dog Vest. A wet bandanna will dry quickly in warm weather, but the special cooling gel in this coat won’t. It provides better, longer protection against heat. Best of all, your dog can wear it as you hike, travel, etc. without carrying wet dog smell with him.
4) Watch what your dog does and when.
Activity during warm weather causes your dog unnecessary physical stress. If you want to do a strenuous activity with your dog, like going for a run, do it in the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or late night.
Clever Invention: Dog Treadmill. It allows your dog to work up a sweat in the cool indoors. With this treadmill, your dog can still work off his energy and maintain a healthy weight, no matter how hot it is outside.
5) Know the signs of heat stroke.
Sometimes, your dog simply can’t handle the weather. Make sure you know what heat stroke looks like so if it hits, you can quickly get your dog medical help.
Read More: Warning Signs Of Canine Heat Stroke
When the weather gets warm, make sure you’re paying attention to your dog. Yes, dogs do sweat, but they often need your help to stay cool. Follow these tips to keep your dog cool and safe all summer long.
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Photo credit: Oakley Originals