Normal body temperature for most dogs is between 101 and 102.5 degrees, much higher than the normal average body temperature for humans. Dogs can’t sweat through their skin like humans do, but they do have sweat glands in their paws. A dog’s sweat glands will help to cool them down, but they are not as efficient as human sweat glands, which is why dogs rely on other methods to help them regulate their temperature on warm days.
How do dogs regulate their body temperatures?
Dog’s sweat glands are referred to as merocrine glands and they are located in your pup’s paw pads. Dogs have a less efficient system of sweat glands than humans do and therefore they often rely on multiple body systems to help keep cool. Much like humans, the blood vessels closest to the surface of a dog’s body will vasodilate, or expand to allow an increase of blood flow near the skin’s surface which can also assist in cooling. Dogs also open their mouths and pant when they get hot to help their bodies cool off. They use the evaporation of moisture from their mouth and tongue to help cool themselves much like humans do when we sweat.
According to petmd.com, “panting is a sign that your dog is excited, hot, or both. But panting is also a warning sign. If your dog is taking a break from exercise and continues to pant heavily, this could be a sign of heatstroke – a medical emergency. Move your dog to a cool spot or indoors immediately. When playing with your dog outside in hot weather, it’s vital to bring along water for them to drink, too.”
How can you help your dog stay cool in warm weather?
1) Never leave your dog alone in a car on warm days. On a sunny, 75 degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 100 degrees, and 30 minutes to reach 120 degrees. Even when parked in the shade with the windows cracked, cars can quickly become too hot for dogs even on days humans may think are cool, so be sure to take your dog with you, or leave them home where they can stay cool.
2) Keep an eye on the thermostat! In general, keeping your house between 75-78 degrees is ideal for most breeds of dog. Keep in mind that some cold-weather breeds, like Huskies, may prefer cooler indoor temperatures than other breeds with shorter, less insulated coats.
3) If your dog enjoys playing outside, make sure they have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Having a kiddie pool or sprinkler for them to play in may also be a fun way for them to play and stay cool at the same time. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your pup and bring them inside regularly to rest and cool down.
4) Going for walks and exercising your dog is important, but in warm weather, it’s best to do your exercising early in the morning or later in the day, towards evening when it’s cooler. Also, keep in mind that the pavement or blacktop temperature is often much warmer than the air temperature. Asphalt in direct sunlight on a 77 degree day can reach temperatures of 125 degrees. At that temperature, damage can occur to a dog’s paw pads in under 60 seconds so be sure to keep your dog on the grass or consider dog boots to help protect the skin on their paws.
5) Dogs need plenty of water, no matter what the temperature is outside. Make sure your dog’s water bowl is full and give them plenty of opportunities to get a drink throughout the day.
6) Frozen treats can be a great reward for your dog on a warm day. Dog-safe ice cream and frozen broth popsicles are great options to keep in the house during warm weather.