How do dogs regulate their body temperature?

Dog playing with water

Summer is here, and hot weather means a lot more time outdoors for you and your dog. Humans know that when it is hot, we sweat, we keep ourselves hydrated, and when we’ve had too much sun, we retire to a nice, air-conditioned home. Although dogs are able to sweat through areas of their bodies not covered in fur, such as their noses and paw pads, this is not an effective way of maintaining their temperature and they have had to develop other mechanisms for keeping cooler in summer, and warm in the winter. In winter months, they develop thicker coats for warmth, and in the spring they begin to shed in preparation for the hot summer months.

Dogs have sweat glands in their noses and paw pads, so unlike humans who sweat from just about anywhere on our bodies, they have a very limited area from which to sweat. Instead they better regulate their body temperature through their respiratory system. A dog breathes in through his nose, and the air is cooled en-route to his lungs. As the air temperature increases, your dog has to work harder to keep cool. That is why dogs pant. When they take in air through the mouth, the saliva evaporates, cooling the blood in the veins and capillaries of the tongue, and passing it through the dog’s circulatory system to cool him down. However, if your dog is panting excessively, he is too hot; get him inside.

Dogs with shorter noses and flat faces have a harder time tolerating heat, so be aware if you own a pug, bulldog, or other breed with these features.

How You Can Keep Your Dog Comfortable and Healthy in Any Weather

Our best friends may have their own internal thermostat, but they still need a little help from us humans to keep it cool in the hot summer months.

– Dogs love to go outside and play, but like us, they have their limits. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke, and they are also prone to sunburn, especially light-colored or short-haired breeds. If you leave your dog outside for any period of time, make certain that her he has shade or a cool, ventilated shelter.

Dog keeping cool in summer

– Never, ever leave your dog in a vehicle in hot weather. The temperature inside of a closed vehicle can reach over to 120 degrees within a few minutes. If it is absolutely unavoidable to leave your dog in the car for a short period of time, make sure to leave at least 2 windows cracked for ventilation. If you may have to leave him for a while, it is better to leave him at home.

– Like us, dogs need plenty of water for hydration. In extremely hot weather, you can also add a few ice cubes to his water dish to cool it.

– Dogs with short coats and thin skin may benefit from wearing a jumper or coat in colder weather to ensure they maintain as much of their body heat as possible.

– Leave your dog some extra towels or blankets on their bed at night time.  If they get cold they can use them to snuggle in and make a cosy bed!