Please act responsibly and consider your pet this summer
I work in research for the most part dealing with human physiology, and often thermoregulation – I am also a loving dog owner. I have participated in research with human subjects investigating cooling strategies for work in the heat including the military, and recently began to wonder how thermoregulation in dogs differs from humans. Many people understand the cooling strategies of the human compared to the dog, mostly, dogs pant and human sweat.
Humans can thermoregulate by using 5 mechanisms, (1) Evaporation, (2) Convection, (3) Conduction, (4) Radiation, and (5) Metabolism. Metabolism is what happens when we exercise and always results in heat gain. Evaporation is how we lose heat from sweat evaporating off of the skin. Convection is the loss of heat by moving air (fans feeling cool on your skin) and Conduction is the loss of heat when we touch a surface that is cooler than our skin temperature (or gain warmth by touching something warm). Radiation often refers to the sun warming our skin.
Dogs gain heat by the same mechanisms that we do, Metabolism from exercise, Conduction from hot surfaces and Radiation from the sun. However their furry coats can help to prevent heat gain from Conduction and Radiation, therefore when you shave your furry dogs coat, you may be doing them a disservice as this may prevent their ability to insulate themselves from the heat.
To lose heat dogs take advantage of Convection, Conduction, and Evaporation. When dogs are outside and there is a breeze or they are moving they can lose heat from Convection, however tied up at home, in a crate, or in a car, they lose the ability to dispel heat this way. Dogs try to use Conduction every opportunity they have, this is why your dog (and mine!) decides to lie down in the mud puddle after a run at the dog park, the mud puddle is slightly cooler than the air and water removes heat from the body 25 times faster than air, so if they are already in the mud puddle, give them a minute to enjoy the cooling effect.