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"Don't let 'em see you sweat" … good advice if you're in the
business world trying to close a deal. But, if you are
dealing with an animal, knowing how that animal cools itself could
be vital to its well being, especially when temperatures are
"Fur-bearing animals may use different body mechanisms to cool
themselves and maintain a safe body temperature," notes Dr. Adam
Patterson, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
"After exercise, your dog's temperature will rise. To cool
itself, it will pant by taking shallow breaths as opposed to
sweating through the skin like people. The panting helps to
dissipate excess heat quickly and is a natural cooling mechanism
for your dog," says Patterson.
A panting cat is a different story, cautions Patterson.
Overall, panting in a cat is not typical. Usually a panting
cat signifies a medical problem especially if the cat is in an air
conditioned space. Heat, pulmonary, metabolic and kidney
disease all can cause a cat to pant. Often cats with these
conditions also display other signs such as altered behavior,
lethargy, weight gain or loss, changes in appetite, inappropriate
elimination in the litter box and/or poor grooming habits to name a
few. Regardless, if a household cat is panting it should be
closely monitored for a few minutes to see if the panting
stops. If not, or if panting resumes while indoors, seek
veterinary medical attention.
"Remember that dogs and cats do not perspire all over their
body; they only really sweat on their paw pads," explains
Patterson. "Providing a shallow pool of water for your dog to
stand in may be helpful in cooling your canine during the summer
heat. Cats lick the bottoms of their paws and their chest and
this moisture helps them to cool down."
Your pet may also adapt to the heat by shedding some of its
winter hair coat, notes Patterson. Losing body hair as the
weather heats up is a natural occurrence and another way that
mammals prepare themselves for the hot summer.
"It is extremely important to provide plenty of clean drinking
water for your pet," urges Patterson. "Because warm-blooded
animals lose water when they cool themselves, it is important to
give pets lots of drinking water, especially in the hot and humid
Different animals have come up with interesting means of
surviving summer heat, notes Patterson. Rabbits radiate heat
from their long ears. Blood flowing into the ears dissipates
heat from the body and this cooler blood then returns to the
bloodstream and decreases the rabbit's body temperature.
Horses do have sweat glands in the skin along the majority of
their body, notes Patterson. During exercise and extreme hot
temperatures, horses will sweat like people as a means of removing
excess body heat. After exercising, a cool water bath helps
dissipate the excess heat from the horse's body.
In the hot summer, help keep your pet cool by knowing how your
pet does, or doesn't sweat and what measures can be provided to
make your pet more comfortable when the temperature rises.
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