How Your Dog Keeps Cool In Heat
The dog days of summer in the US are upon us and with the heat wave riding over most places, it is important to consider the dangers of heat with respect to our pets especially when exercising our dogs.
A Dog Is Not A Four Legged Human
For both dogs and people, when the temperature of the air rises, our bodies work to keep up cool . The canine body deals with heat very differently than the human body.
For people, the body creates sweat to coat the skin with moisture. When the air is warmer than the fluid, the fluid evaporates. As it evaporates it cools and helps to cool our bodies. In humans, our sweat glands are distributed over most of our body’s surface.
A dog does NOT have sweat glands over his or her body and does not sweat through this skin. They do have some in their footpads and this is the only place they sweat.
The primary way a dog cools himself off is by panting, breathing rapidly with the mouth open and tongue out. The moisture on the tongue evaporates and this helps to cool the temperature of the entire dot. Plus with the heavy breathing, the moist lining of their lungs get more air so moisture can evaporate from there too. Another mechanism that dogs use to try to cool off in involves dilating or expanding blood vessels in their face and ears in order to release more heat. (This bodily function works best if the overheating is due to exercise, but is not enough to regulate body temperature in hot weather.)
A dog can manage a significant cooling of his body temperature. It still is not efficient as a human’s cooling system which covers our entire body. (Your dog’s fur coat wards off a certain a little bit of heat as well as keeping heat inside the dog.) The upshot is you dog will feel the heat a lot more and faster than you. You may feel fine, but your dog may be overheating.
Too Much Heat for Your Dog
Dogs are much more susceptible to heatstroke than humans. A dog that pants excessively may be overheated. Other symptoms of heatstroke include
- Hyperventilation (gasping for air)
- Dry gums as heat
- Staring / Glassy eyes
- Anxious expression
- Refusal to obey commands
- Warm, dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat
Keep in mind, an energetic or young dog does not always know when to stop and run and play until they are sick. If you notice signs, immediately cool your dog off with water, inside her body and out, and get her someplace cool. If she is not responsive to you, get her to emergency veterinarian care.