Do dogs sweat? The answer is yes, a little, but not in the same way that humans do.
Dogs have a small number of sweat glands on their nose and paws only.
Their primary mechanism for cooling down on hot days is by panting.
Let’s take a closer look at why dogs don’t sweat in the same way as us, and the difference between sweating and panting!
Do Dogs Sweat?
Many people are curious about sweating vs. panting when it comes to their dogs.
Sweating and panting are both forms of something called thermoregulation.
Thermoregulation is the process that allows an animal’s body to maintain its ideal temperature.
Confused about how exactly your dog cools down on hot days?
We’ll break it down for you, starting with the basics on what sweat is and why humans and some animals sweat on hot days.
What is Sweat?
Sweating is the release of salt-containing liquids from the body’s sweat glands. Our bodies automatically release sweat as a cooling off mechanism.
The evaporation of sweat is what helps to cool the body on hot days. As sweat evaporates, it takes some of the excess body heat with it.
Do All Animals Sweat?
All mammals have some sweat glands, and all can sweat to some degree.
Some mammals, like humans and horses have a lot of sweat glands and use perspiration as their main method to cool off.
Other animals have fewer sweat glands and cool off in different ways besides sweating.
Panting is one of those ways that animals cope with heat.
Dogs, cats, birds, and many other animals pant as a means of regulating body heat.
But what exactly is panting?
How Panting Works
As we mentioned, dogs are one of the animals that pant to cool off.
So do dogs sweat through their tongue when they pant?
No. Panting is not sweating but it serves a similar function.
In panting, a dog exhales hot air and inhales cooler air.
Panting also cools pups off because the moisture in their respiratory system evaporates and this evaporation has a cooling effect, just like when our sweat evaporates.
Besides their mouths, panting also cools other moist areas likes their noses and throats.
Do Dogs Have Sweat Glands?
Our pups have fewer sweat glands than humans and some other animals, but yes, they do have some.
Humans have lots of sweat glands all over the body, numbering in the millions. Many are concentrated in certain areas like the hands, feet, and underarms.
Dogs have far fewer sweat glands than humans because panting is their primary way to cool down.
Where do dogs sweat from? Let’s find out!
How Do Dogs Sweat?
Dogs have sweat glands on areas not covered by fur. Primarily, they sweat through their paws. Their noses also have some sweat glands.
Dog sweat glands are concentrated on the feet, which is why you might notice wet paw prints on the floor during hot days or smell a distinctive odor on their paw pads.
That doggy foot smell is often compared to the scent of snack foods like popcorn or chips by dog owners. Why is that?
Dogs sweat through their feet, but that unique smell is not the odor of sweat. It is the smell of bacteria and yeast on the paws, amplified by fur and moisture.
Do Some Dogs Sweat Too Much?
As we’ve seen, dogs can sweat through their feet in hot weather, but their main way of cooling off is through panting.
Is there something wrong with your dog if he sweats a lot through his paws?
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) in dogs is uncommon, but it can happen.
One study found that a group of purpose-bred laboratory Beagles had unusually moist paw pads consistent with hyperhidrosis.
But if your dog has an unpleasant odor, chances are it’s not due to too much sweat.
That characteristic doggy odor is more likely due to other things, including their scent glands, or microorganisms like yeast and bacteria on certain areas of the body, such as ears and skin folds.
How to Help Your Dog Keep Cool in Hot Weather
When humans sweat, we lose moisture and need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
While dogs do not sweat like humans, they do lose moisture through panting because the moisture in their mouths evaporates during the process.
This means that your dog needs lots of fresh, clean drinking water when the weather is hot.
Your dog can easily become dehydrated during heavy panting.
Besides providing water, you should also limit your dog’s physical activity in very hot weather.
Overheating can be a life-threatening condition in dogs. Very high body temperature can lead to organ failure and death.
Some dogs, especially flat-muzzled brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs, are especially prone to heat stroke.
Do Dogs Sweat?
While dogs can sweat through their paws, your dog’s main way of cooling off is through panting.
Dogs and humans regulate their body temperature in different ways. You will sweat on a hot day, but your dog will pant.
Be sure that you and your dog have plenty of water on hot days so you both stay cool and hydrated!
Is your dog prone to overheating? We hope this article has given you some handy tips for cooling them down. Let us know in the comments.
References and Resources
- Carrier, C.A., Seeman, J.L., Hoffmann, G. Hyperhidrosis in Naïve Purpose-Bred Beagle Dogs (Canis familiaris). Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 2011.
- Bruchim, Y., Horowitz, M., Aroch, I. Pathophysiology of Heatstroke in Dogs – Revisited. Temperature, 2017.