We all know how important it is to care of our pets in the warm weather, ensuring they keep cool and stay hydrated, but have you ever wondered if your pet sweats? Just like humans, cats and dogs can also overheat, but their bodies deal with it a little differently to us, read on to discover more…
In the summer months and with rising temperatures, you might wonder if your pet sweats. The answer, in short, is yes, but not in the same way that we humans sweat. It’s widely known that cats and dogs react to hot weather and moments of anxiety or stress by sweating through their paws. This is true, but it’s less straightforward than it sounds.
Dogs sweat through two different glands, these are merocrine glands and apocrine glands. When dogs sweat through their paws it’s through these merocrine glands, helping them cool down and occasionally leave prints behind them. The other, apocrine glands, don’t physically reduce their temperature, but act as a systematic response that facilitates and allows the rest of their body to cope with a higher temperature (or a stressful situation). These apocrine glands also contain sweat pheromones that help dogs identify each other and give off vital information, for example, their gender.
Beyond their paws, the main way that dogs cool off is through panting. When dogs pant they evaporate moisture from their tongue, nasal passage, and consequently cool down as air passes over the moist tissue. This isn’t dissimilar to the way humans evaporate sweat to cool down. Another way dogs regulate their temperature is through vasodilation, this is when their blood vessels expand and so bring hot blood closer to the skin's surface, allowing it to cool down. This cooler blood then flows back to the heart, reducing the dog’s overall temperature. Clever, huh?
Cats are a little more complex when it comes to keeping cool, just like dogs they also sweat through their paw pads, but as they don’t pant they have to rely on other clever ways to keep comfortable. One way they do this is through bathing, as they lick themselves their saliva evaporates and cools them down. Another method is resting in cooler spaces and spreading out, usually somewhere shaded with access to a cold surface, from tiles to an empty bathtub.
It will also come as no surprise to pet parents that cats and dogs usually shed their coats as the seasons change, keeping them less furry and so more comfortable in warmer climes. One way to help this along (and reduce hairy housework) is through grooming them regularly. It’s not necessary to remove too much fur, this can sometimes make them more susceptible to heatstroke, but keeping them neat and allowing healthy ventilation is a wise idea.
As our pets sweat differently to us, it’s important we keep a close eye on them when it’s warmer, here are some things to look out for if they’re at risk when overheating:
- Frantic panting
- Excessive drooling or salivating
- Acting disorientated or lack of coordination
- Trembling or wobbling
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms then move them to a cool place as soon as you can, provide drinking water and seek advice from a medical professional.
It’s also always worth remembering the risks of leaving your dog in a hot car, and avoiding excessive exercise or walks when it’s particularly hot outside. Our pets can’t always communicate if they’re too hot, and so it’s always best to take caution with our fur family.