Do you know how dogs sweat? This is how you can cool down your pet

Hangai Lilla

2024. July 7 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

You may not have discovered beads of sweat on your dog's forehead, but our pets sweat too, just in a different way.


Find out how dogs sweat, the signs of heatstroke and how to cool down your overheated companion.

It’s a misconception that dogs sweat through their tongue

How dogs sweat

Instead of getting their armpits or foreheads wet, dogs sweat through the glands in their paw pads. These are the merocrine glands, and they also activate when the animal is stressed, not just when they are hot. (They also have apocrine glands, which are all over their bodies, but instead of sweating they produce pheromones.) Unlike us, however, this form of sweating is not an effective way for them to cool down. Interestingly, the sweat of quadrupeds does not smell as unpleasant as that of humans. Although, if you think about it, this is not so strange, since human sweat is basically odourless, the unpleasant odour is caused by bacteria that multiply in a humid environment.

But how do they cool themselves down if sweating is not enough? On the one hand, they pant: the dog takes in air quickly, humidifies and then exhales it, also rapidly. The process causes moisture in the airways to evaporate, which helps cool the body. Humidification means it is very important that if our dog is moving around a lot, we always have fresh water with us to keep them hydrated. Another of their tried and true method is to dilate their veins – unknowingly of course. This brings the warm blood closer to the surface of the body, where it cools. On the body, this is most effectively done on the cheeks and ears. This is why when it is hot, these areas of the body may be red.

Always have fresh water with you wherever you go with your dog

Heatstroke in dogs

The ever warmer days are rushing towards us, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke. Older, young, and shorter-nosed dogs are at increased risk, but any dog can easily overheat if we’re not careful.

Heat stroke actually occurs when a dog is exposed to prolonged high temperatures that raise their body temperature. This most often happens when the dog is left outside in the yard in the heat – with no shade to shelter in, God forbid – exercising in the heat, walking, exercising, playing, or left in the car or travelling in a car that is not air conditioned. While travelling in a hot car can be dangerous, it is very important to highlight that you should never leave your dog in the car unattended. The car acts as a greenhouse in the sun, and even at 25°C you’re putting the dog in danger. The dog’s normal body temperature is 37.5-39°C. A persistent body temperature above 41°C can lead to organ failure and eventually death. However, the dog’s body temperature does not need to be this high; even slightly lower temperatures can make them extremely uncomfortable.

If you identify any of the following signs in your pet, you should take them to a doctor immediately:

  • excessive panting,
  • red gums,
  • coordination problems,
  • rapid heartbeat,
  • thickened saliva, excessive drooling,
  • vomiting,
  • siezures,
  • loss of consciousness.

On the way to the vet, offer the dog cool water that can be splashed on them. A PetMD veterinary website article however, draws attention to the fact that wet towels should not be placed on the dog, as they can act as a heat trap and make the situation worse!

How to cool your dog safely

The first and most important thing to do in the summer months is to schedule your walk, game or exercise in the early morning or late afternoon. Provide a shady place in the yard for the dog to go outside or outdoors, where they can retreat at any time of day. Of course, don’t forget about fresh water; it’s best if the animal has access to it in several places. Whenever you go out, always have a water bottle and bowl with you so you can give your dog a drink wherever and whenever you go.

Click here to find out more about whether dogs should be clipped short in the heat.

dog heatstroke heat heatstroke overheating panting summer hazards sweating the dog is panting

Related articles

More articles

Are cats your favourite too?
Visit our Love my catz page too!