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How dogs deal with heat: thermoregulation in dogs

When it is very hot, many dogs (and so do we) suffer from a great reluctance to move. That is also perfectly ok.

But why do dogs pant? Is it better to shear the dog? What happens if I have heat stroke? For these and other questions, I have summarized all the information about how dogs deal with heat.

Summer tips and cooling products for your dog can be found in the article about cooling off ideas for the dog.

Thermoregulation in the dog

Dogs are animals of the same temperature, just like us.

Your body has the ability to keep the core body temperature constant even under changing environmental conditions.

A healthy dog ​​has a body temperature of around 38-39 ° C.

The value can be slightly higher for puppies. And even at the vet and when taking rectal measurements, a slightly higher temperature is often measured (due to stress).

The area in which the body has to make little effort to maintain its temperature is called thermoneutrale Zone. In dogs, this is roughly between ± 15-25 ° Celsius and varies individually depending on the amount of fur and stature.

If the temperature rises again, the body gets into it Heat stress and needs to expend energy to cool off.

Because too strong Deviation from the ideal temperature is associated with health risks in animals of the same temperature.

The measures to maintain the ideal body temperature are called the means of Thermoregulation designated.

To do this, the dog uses different ways, for example:

  • Heat transfer, e.g. by panting or changes in blood flow
  • Isolation, e.g. summer fur and winter fur
  • Behavior changes, for example, lying stretched out or relaxing in the shade

How well dogs cope with heat depends on a few factors. A Podenco has a different “feel-good temperature” than a husky or a pug.

Because age, height, physique and of course the coat of our dogs influenced how quickly they heat up and how effectively they can cool down.

Dogs pant to keep cool

Dogs only sweat over the balls of their feet. Perhaps you’ve seen your dog get up in summer and leave wet paw prints on the tiles.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs definitely have functional sweat glands in their skin. However, these are not used to sweat, but rather seem to give off scented secretions.

Not being able to sweat is not necessarily a disadvantage!

Because sweating is a luxury that comes with you Loss of water and electrolytes connected is.

But to cool off, dogs have to pant.

But what actually happens when you pant?

» When the dog is panting, it will take many short breaths in a row with its mouth open.

The normal breathing rate in dogs is around 15-30 breaths per minute. Panting can be unbelievable 200-400 Atemzüge pro Minute become!

» A column of air is moved very quickly one after the other along the outside of the nose, the upper respiratory tract and the tongue. When panting, the dog fans out its mucous membranes.

» As a result of the lift movement, more moisture evaporates on the surface of the mucous membranes. The Evaporation cooling cools the skin in the head area together with the superficial blood vessels.

» The cooled blood is transported back into the body by the mucous membranes and new warm blood flows into the dog’s snout to cool down.


Panting is not only important in getting rid of body heat.

Dogs use a trick to get her by panting To protect the brain from heat damage in summer.

Because the metabolic processes in the brain produce a lot of heat, but of course they cannot simply be switched off even in summer temperatures.

The brain is particularly at risk of overheating in summer.

Dogs (and also cats, for example) therefore have a so-called Miracle network as a cooling system for the head, which their prey such as rodents and rabbits lack.

Before oxygen-rich warm blood is pumped from the heart into the brain, it must flow through a branched network of vessels that run along the bloodstream that has been cooled by panting.

Due to the close contact of these blood vessels, the warm arterial blood is cooled down considerably before it continues to flow into the particularly heat-sensitive brain.

This cooling effect per Countercurrent principle is especially important when the dog is under great strain to protect the dog’s brain from overheating, for example when running and hunting.

Being able to pant is extremely important for dogs in summer!

So please also note the following:

  • Round-headed dogs are severely disadvantaged here. Due to the sometimes very strong shortened airways there is almost no evaporation surface in the nasal area.

    Many dogs with brachycephalic syndrome pant even at normal temperatures and at rest.

    If it gets hot too, or if the flat-nosed dog has to move, it quickly reaches the maximum possible limits of the panting frequency, but panting still does insufficient cooling effect. These dogs need to be spared in summer.

  • Your dog must too wear a muzzle in summer, then be sure to choose a sufficiently large wire basket. Panting and drinking must also be possible with a muzzle!
  • Dogs that are so daft that they are Even in summer you always have to carry something unteachable in your face, you can with such an “air-permeable” ball like this orange part come towards you.

    This habit remains a bit idiotic, but not all German Shepherds and Retrievers are with it Self-preservation will Sanity blessed.

  • On Walks, bike rides and wild ball games are generally better avoided at lunchtime and in the blazing sun.

    Especially dogs from crazy working breeds overestimate their own physical limits often excessive in the adrenaline rush and despite being overburdened you can always be encouraged to run and fetch.

    Here it is entirely up to our common sense to decide how much is reasonable for the dog.

The cardiovascular system transports body heat

Body heat is generated inside the dog’s body. Through the blood flow this heat is transported from the middle of the body to the outer parts of the body.

In the Blood circulation in the skin Heat reaches the surface of the body and is released through the fur to the surrounding air.

This loss of heat through the skin is of course more desirable in summer than in winter.

That’s why they can Blood vessels in the skin are either widened or contracted tightly as needed. Wide vessels offer more exchange surface and the slower blood flow in widened vessels offers more time for heat exchange.

However, this mechanism is much more pronounced in humans than in dogs. Because dogs do not sweat and when the heat is too great they rely more on panting than on the release of body heat through the skin.

Only about the less densely hairy areas like Legs, ears and muzzle can be particularly targeted and effectively removed heat.

How good this one Heat exchange via the outer extremities works depends of course on the dog’s physique and coat.

For dogs with lush wool on their faces or for dogs that lack notable legs and ears or a long muzzle, this is the Cooling effect naturally less pronounced than in dogs with a functional original physique.

Dogs with thick fur – Shear off in summer or not?

Nobody will deny that thick fur is practical in ice and sleet.

However, I envy my dogs less when they have to drag around with their thick fur even in summer.

Many curly dogs and long-haired dogs with no undercoat, such as poodles or bichons, usually shave shorter hairstyles in summer. However, this is extremely frowned upon in dogs with an undercoat.

But how does dog fur actually work?

Between the curled fine hair of the Undercoat one forms Layer of airthrough which heat only slowly spreads outwards.

The So fur serves as insulation and prevents body heat from being lost directly through the skin. For example, they work according to the same principle double-walled thermos flasks.

And like a thermos also naturally insulates dog fur in both directions.

If the air over the dog’s fur heats up strongly in summer, this warm air can only slowly penetrate through the fur from the outside to the body surface.

It is well known that black surfaces heat up more in the sun because they hardly reflect solar radiation.

The dog is no exception: Dogs with dark fur heat up externally faster than dogs with light fur.

The pigment also works in the hair photoprotektiv, because the high-energy UV radiation from the sun is converted by melanin into less harmful forms of energy. So fur also protects against Sunburn and skin cancer.

Of course, this only applies to dogs with pigmented fur. One can assume an increased risk of skin cancer in unpigmented white dogs

(Just for information: not every pure white dog is actually colorless. White poodles and many Samoyed, for example, are completely pigmented, but the color of their fur is so much lightened that we perceive them as “super blonde white”.)

However, these protective effects have limits, otherwise dogs would not change their coat between the seasons.

With a natural one Change of coat owns that Summer coat in many dogs is naturally less dense undercoat and overall shorter hair.

The fur is thinner between the front legs, on the abdomen and in the loin area. In these poorly insulated areas, the dog loses body heat more easily than on the hairy back.

These areas are “thermal windows“And it is no coincidence that they are less densely hairy.

Because they allow the dog to reveal these poorly insulated areas depending on its posture. By opening the thermal window, excess heat can be released into the environment directly through the skin.

Healthy dogs with moderate double-layered fur do not need to be sheared in summer. Even Siberian Huskies can cope with warm temperatures if you let them doze off in the shade during the midday heat.

However, a dog can also have too much fur or simply not very functional fur. Then shearing off can bring great relief to the dog.

With all dogs only with “dog fur is a more natural protection!“ to argue is, in my opinion, not real.

Hardly any owner of a Labrador would have the idea to shear his dog. The whole discussion is only about dogs that are obviously already suffering from the health of the heat.

Just think, for example, of the dog breeds, with which one specializes through targeted breeding lush head of hair is promoted.

What you like at the dog show doesn’t always have to be practical in everyday life. And “Naturally“Hasn’t been here for a long time.

With some Pekingese, Chow Chows, Collies or dwarf peaks of the extreme show type you are allowed to do that Functionality of the excessively thick fur, I mean, you should critically question it.

And woolly too Kastratenfell does more harm than good.

The main problem with these dogs is that too much undercoat easily felted in. As a result, the fur is no longer “breathable” and becomes a sweater made from your own hair. Then it can too Trapped heat come.

A sign of this is that the dog is panting all the time, even when resting in the shade (this can of course also be caused by other causes such as …


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