Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
All About Pet Sweat (In Case You Were Wondering)
I sweat, you sweat, dogs sweat, er…cats sweat? Well, sort of. The problem is that pets don’t sweat exactly like us (and therefore never have to worry about B.O. or nervous, sweaty handshakes). This is one of the reasons you need to pay extra close attention to your pet during the heat of the summer. They simply lack an efficient cooling system.
But, they do sweat. So, the next time you’re out for a jog or moving something heavy, wipe your brow and consider some of the following facts about pet sweat!
The Mechanics of Pet Sweat
Like us, our mammalian animal companions are covered in skin which contains thousands of hair follicles and sweat glands (apocrine glands). When an animal becomes too warm or overexerts him or herself, the body’s defense to rising internal/external heat is to release moisture through the sweat glands. For large mammals without thick fur, this mechanism works great. We can release moisture through the skin, where it evaporates and cools us down.
However, because your pet is most likely covered in fur, he or she can’t maintain the same system of cooling; the majority of pet sweat glands are located in areas that are fur-free – like paws and the nose.
So, while your pet may leave behind a trail of wet paw marks, it actually takes much more to keep him or her cool.
How do Pets Stay Cool?
The question remains: if pets don’t effectively sweat in order to regulate body temperature, how do they keep from overheating? Well, there are a few different ways:
Panting – This is one you’ve likely witnessed that is most definitely associated with dogs. Like sweating, panting works to release warm moisture from the lungs through the mouth, where it then evaporates and cools the external body.
Shade – Cats will pant if they have to, but this should signal a health emergency since it isn’t their primary means of defense. On the other hand, cats are great about avoiding the heat, such as seeking shade and stretching out and extending their bodies to allow for more air circulation.
Fur – Your pet’s fur also offers a barrier against heat and sunrays, which helps them to stay cool. The fur itself acts to whisk away moisture and protect the skin against inclement weather, sun, and cold (which is why it isn’t a good idea to shave your pet).
Blood vessels – The vessels in your pet’s face and ears also provide heat relief, as they are quite close to the surface of the skin. As these vessels dilate, blood flows closer to the skin, helping to cool the core body temperature.
Because pets tend to struggle with hot weather, keep in mind these methods are not foolproof. Bring your pet inside during the hottest times of day, and help him or her stay hydrated by providing plenty of fresh, clean water – no matter where you are.
We hope you and your pet stay cool! Please call us if we can answer any questions about warm weather pet safety.