What is Thermoregulation?
Understanding heatstroke is the best way to avoid it in our dogs. We humans sweat, it pools off of us from every part of our body. The evaporation of the sweat from our skin provides a cooling effect. This aids in our thermoregulation, that is our body keeping its core temperature within certain boundaries even when the surrounding temperature is different. Dogs and humans can thermoregulate, but the critical fact is we do it in different ways.
How is Thermoregulation different in dogs
The number one difference is both dogs and cats do not “sweat”, well at least not for cooling down purposes. Dogs produce sweat on areas not covered with fur; ears, nose and paw pads. The secretions from these areas alone are not enough to cool the animal down. They are more for keeping the animal from getting too dry and having a cracked paw or nose.
Dangers of Heatstroke
It can be very dangerous, yes life-threatening for a dogs temperature to go above 41 degrees. Their average temperature is around 38-39, a little hotter than our 37degrees. As they can’t cool themselves via sweating like us they can quite quickly go into heat exhaustion and even heat stoke, this is often quick and can be fatal.
Ways Dogs Cool Down
However, dogs do have other ways to cool off. Dogs and cats can transfer some internal heat to surfaces cooler than they are. That’s why you may find your dog lying on the cooler kitchen tiles or the rug. This convection transfers heat away from the dog. So keeping a paddling pool handy is an excellent idea in the heat. Taking them for a swim is also a good idea.
When Hosing down can go wrong
Watch out for longhaired dogs though as they can get waterlogged and their fur will trap the heat and not let it escape. So when pouring water over your dog to help them cool down, use your hand to squeeze the water off them, preventing the trapping of heat.
Heatstroke and what not to do
If you have a dog suffering from heatstroke, you must not submerge them in water that is too cold. Different temperatures make it too hard for the dog to regulate, use lukewarm water and no ice. The primary way dogs keep regulated to pant, but if they are in a parked car they are unable to regulate, no amount of panting will cool them, no dog can thermoregulate in an oven!
Great Ideas to Avoid Heatstroke
So how do you keep your dog cool in the heat? Here are a couple of ideas
- Provide more than enough access to water.
- A child’s shell pool or paddling pool
- Let them play with ice, it’s a nice treat and cooling too
- Place wet towels on the ground or kitchen floor etc. so they can lie down and transfer some of their heat
- Give them a gentle hose down, and wipe off the excess and if you have an electric fan, put this on and aim it at them
- If able bring them inside in extreme temperatures to the air-conditioning
- If not able to bring them in give them ample shade
- You can provide them with cooling gel pads for pets that are designed to have a cooling effect
- You can even set up a misting system on your patio, like the ones you would use for a garden, set to a timer and presto a dog cooling system
Understanding how dogs thermoregulate means we are more equipped with the knowledge on how to help them in extreme weather conditions. For a more detailed report follow this link.