While most of us have experienced some form of sweat, accumulating like little raindrops on our skin, dogs, unfortunately, cannot release heat the same way we do. Dogs do not sweat and release heat by panting and also through the dilation of their blood vessels. Vasodilation is the dilation process of blood vessels, which allows the hot blood to reach the surface of the skin to cool before it is pumped back into the heart. Dogs do release very little heat through their paw pads, but not enough to significantly cool their entire body.
Since dogs cannot release heat as efficiently as humans, they can overheat easier. There are many risks for dogs out in the heat to suffer from heat exhaustion or stroke, so looking out for these signs is important. When your dog has begun panting excessively, and you physically see them struggling to breathe or cool down, try getting them in a cool place as soon as possible. Making sure your dog has water and shady places to rest while outdoors helps them cool faster, and get back out in the sun.
Vasodilation is important to a dog being able to cool off, effectively. When a dog has been overworked or played too long, they can diminish these cooling treatments, making it harder for their body to receive oxygen, resulting in health issues. Excitement, stress, heat, and humidity all take part in how your dog’s body temperature rises. If you combine all of these elements and apply them to a dog who already has health conditions, it can be life-threatening.
Be observant when in harsh conditions with your dog, and always have water on hand. Heat exhaustion can happen quickly, so make sure your dog takes plenty of breaks to recover. Dogs cannot communicate the way we do, so it’s your responsibility as their owner to be educated and informed of all possibilities.