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How Do Dogs Sweat?

Like many other people, you might be surprised to hear that all dogs do sweat, but in a different way to humans. It is also good to know that when a dog is hot, sweating is just one of a few ways that a dog can try to cool his/her body down.

Why Body Temperature Matters to Dogs

As with humans, a dog's brains control their body temperature, by computing signs from the dog’s surrounding environment, and setting off various functions, to instruct the dog’s body to cool down

When humans get hot, their brain triggers their sweat glands to secrete salt water to give off perspiration. As the perspiration evaporates, it lowers the body temperature.

With dogs, the process is different. Their body is covered in fur, so secreting sweat is not an effective way to cool off the body. Unfortunately, even though the fur will help, to a certain extent, to insulate the dog against overheating, it can also give the opposite results. Therefore, instead of your dog having sweat glands all over the body, they are only situated in certain areas of the body where there is no fur, such as the paws, and possibly the nose as well.

A Dog’s Sweat Glands

A dog has two distinct types of sweat glands. The merocrine sweat glands are those most like the ones found in humans and are located primarily in a dog’s paws and perhaps the nose as well.

When dogs get hot, these merocrine glands emit a clear, salty liquid, as with the sweat in humans. So, if you see damp paw prints following your dog while walking around, it shows that he/she is hot.

It is important to note, however, that this doesn’t happen as often as other thermogenic procedures in dogs, such as vasodilation and panting.

The other type of sweat glands in dogs, is the apocrine glands, which might be more accurately referred to as the pheromone glands. These are found over the dog’s entire body, about one for each hair follicle.

Even though vets consider these to be sweat glands, they are not the same as the other type, the merocrine glands, and they are not really designed to help a dog to cool down. Instead, they give off pheromones that help to identify dogs among each other by smell. So, if your dog comes inside and smells bad, then it’s more than likely those glands at work!

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