When most people consider their fur friends, the thought of them sweating seems absurd. With all that fur, how could it even be possible? Well, believe it or not, cats and dogs do sweat – but in ways us humans aren’t familiar with (for example, we doubt your pet will ever need to borrow your deodorant!).

To learn more about why pets sweat and how they do it, let’s take a closer look at this gross but necessary function.

The Physiology Behind Why Pets Sweat

Sweating allows the body to release moisture through sweat glands in order to cool external and internal body temperature. In humans, this process is our primary method of cooling down after a rigorous workout or too much fun in the sun. In cats and dogs, however, these important sweat glands are limited. Unlike the sweaty “pits” that we develop, pets typically sweat through glands located on the paw pads.

The primary way dogs cool down is through panting (as many dog owners have noticed). This process extracts moisture from the lungs as a method of releasing heat from the body. Another means is through the dilation of blood vessels near the surface of the skin (called vasodilation).

Like dogs, cats have the ability to sweat via their paw pads. In some cases, a cat can even produce enough sweat to leave paw marks from the moisture. Cats also use grooming as a means to cool down since the saliva will evaporate and cool the surface of their bodies. Panting among cats should signal a potential emergency, since they only rely upon this mechanism when all else fails.

Both cats and dogs lack an effective sweating mechanism, which is why you see animals seek out shady spots or shelter from the sun when they become too hot. Be sure to always provide your pet with a cool place to relax.

Keeping Your Pet Cool

As a pet owner, it’s important to learn more about dehydration in pets and serious heat related illnesses, such as heat stroke. Since animals rely primarily on avoiding heat and direct sunlight to stay cool, practice the following pet safety tips all summer long:

  • Keep your pet indoors during the day, even if you’re not around. Provide air conditioning as you would for any member of the family.
  • Encourage your pet to drink more water by adding ice cubes, tuna juice, or low sodium broth to water bowls.
  • Some pets are picky about their water sources, so clean bowls frequently and consider investing in a water circulating drinking fountain.
  • Be aware of your pet’s comfort level when outside.
  • Take extra precautions when it comes to older pets, puppies and kittens, and those with compromised health.
  • Look for alternative forms of exercise, including indoor games, when the temps or humidity soars.

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital want you and your four-legged buddy to enjoy the best that summer has to offer. By keeping your pet safe from the heat, we’re certain you’ll both have a blast. Please call us with any questions or to schedule a wellness exam for your pet.