When people sweat, it is very obvious. Some of us perspire more than others, but everyone does it. Some people just sweat under the arms, and others seem to sweat almost everywhere.
Why do we sweat? Sweating is our body’s mechanism for cooling us down when we get too hot. Here’s how it works. Human sweat glands help to regulate body temperature by bringing warm moisture to the surface of the skin. This causes our bodies to cool as the water evaporates.
But what do dogs do when their bodies are too hot?
Dogs don’t have skin like we do and they can’t perspire. (Have you ever seen a dog with soaking wet underarms?) A dog’s body can be easily overwhelmed by heat, often causing the dog to suffer from heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
We have sweat glands all over our bodies, so we can cool ourselves down much quicker. Dogs don’t have the luxury of overall cooling because their bodies have very few sweat glands, and most of these are in the footpads.
The main way dogs cool themselves is by panting and breathing, so the moist lining of their lungs serves as the evaporative surface (much like our skin). Many people believe that a dog’s tongue contains sweat glands, but this is not true.
Dogs also dissipate heat by dilating (expanding) blood vessels in their face and ears. This helps to cool the dog’s blood by causing it to flow closer to the surface of the skin.
Excessive play on a hot day can lead to overheating (hyperthermia) and eventually to heat stroke. A dog that is overheated will seem sluggish or perhaps confused. His gums and tongue may appear bright red, and he will be panting hard. The dog may vomit, collapse, have a seizure or go into a coma.
When a dog becomes overheated, it is a real emergency situation. If this happens to your dog, get him to a veterinarian immediately.