Dogs have a heating and cooling system which is different to ours and are typically always around 2-3 degrees warmer than us – this can make them feel like radiators when they’re next to us which can prompt some owners to be worried that they’re potentially overheating.
A common question we get is that my dog radiates heat and if there’s something wrong with them. We don’t want to say no in case there really is an underlying condition, however the following information may prove helpful to put you at ease and to troubleshoot.
Dogs are warmer, anyway
As we’ve previously mentioned, the core temperature of a healthy dog is always going to be a couple of degrees warmer than ours – they will feel warm to us. As Purina states “A dog’s normal temperature ranges between 38.3 and 39.2 degrees Celsius, whereas a human’s recommended body temperature is between 36.5 and 37.5 degrees”.
So, we draw a conclusion from this that a dog will always seem warm to us when we touch them and it’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
More hair means less warmth
Dogs radiate heat from their skin and it dissipates thereafter, through the hair. This means that longer haired dogs will in fact feel cooler than shorter haired dogs. You can test this yourself by putting your hand on their fur, reset the temperature, then put it on their exposed skin such as their bellies.
Dogs aren’t great at cooling down
We’ve covered the fact that dogs aren’t great at dissipating heat when compared to other animals and even us humans. Dogs don’t sweat all over and need to pant to get rid of it, this can take a lot longer if they could just sweat all over.
Canines are not designed to sit in the sun all day and they will instinctively search for cooler spots in the shade or indoors so a hot dog may well have just been exposed to more heat than normal, this is especially true of brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and Pugs.
If it’s a hot day and your dog feels like a radiator then make sure they have fresh water, they have access to shade and that you take them out of the heat as soon as possible. You can even take it further by getting cooling products such as cooling mats and bandanas.
How do you know if your dog is too warm?
Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke which can be deadly. Here are a couple of signs that your dog is radiating too much heat and therefore concerning
- Excessive panting and drooling
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If your dog is too hot it is obvious. If they’ve come to snuggle you and you think they’re warm that is not concerning but a dog with the above symptoms are.
Never let your dog in the heat for too long – if there’s a heatwave then avoiding going for a walk until early morning or late evening is a good idea, always keep them hydrated by topping up their bowl and taking a water bottle on walks and ensure there are always cool areas they can get to if they need it which may or may not include the products we’ve already mentioned.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.