pets sweatMost people have never considered whether or not pets sweat. After all, with all that fur, it’s a bit hard to discern the same signs as when people sweat, and pets don’t get body odor. In reality, however, cats and dogs do sweat – just not in the same manner as humans.

Keep reading to learn more about how pets sweat and how their bodies are designed to stay cool during hot weather.

Do Pets Sweat?

Our bodies come complete with numerous sweat glands along the skin’s surface, which allow us to perspire and release heat from the body. While our furry companions don’t possess the same number of sweat glands, they do have some, which are primarily located in the paw pads. Since their bodies are covered in thick fur, they have different ways to regulate body temperature.

Dogs

Panting is one of the primary ways canines cool off. This actually releases moisture from the lungs and mouth and works as a type of evaporative cooler. Almost all owners can attest to seeing their dog pant on a warm summer day or after exercise.

Another mechanism that helps with cooling is blood vessel dilation in the face and ears, which diverts heat by causing the blood to flow close to the skin’s surface.

Cats

Along with being able to release some heat through paw pad sweat glands, the primary body temperature regulation of cats is common sense – they simply seek shade and rest. By avoiding overexertion during hot times of day and relaxing in the cool shade, cats are best able to avoid becoming too hot.

Another interesting way our overzealous self-groomers keep cool is by licking their fur, which also acts as a de facto form of evaporative cooling.

Keep in mind that while cats can use panting as a means to regulate body temperature, this may also be a sign your pet is close to heat stress or heat stroke. If you’re unsure, always contact your veterinarian, as this can be a “last ditch effort” in cases of heat-related illness.

Helping Your Pet Stay Cool

Given the fact that our pets are not as fully-equipped as we are when it comes to body temperature regulation, the best way to avoid a heat-related emergency is to be proactive. Know the signs of hyperthermia, including:

  • Sluggishness
  • Red gums
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Defined panting
  • Collapse
  • Seizure

During hot days, keep pets indoors in an air conditioned environment (even if human family members aren’t home). Always leave clean drinking water in several locations throughout your home, and bring plenty of extra water when traveling in the car or on a walk.

Dogs often enjoy being “misted” with a spray bottle full of cool water and love romping through a backyard sprinkler.

Outdoor cats should be brought inside during hot weather, but if this isn’t possible, be sure to provide lots of shade and plenty of water.

Remember to pay special attention to pets who are more susceptible to heat stroke, such as brachycephalic breeds (e.g., pugs and Persian cats), senior pets, obese pets, kittens and puppies, and pets with compromised health.

Have a great summer with your pets by keeping them cool and safe at all times. Please give us a call if you have any questions. The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are always here for you!