by Miriam Kerins


Please Note:

This article is written as a guideline and as an education/ information source only.  It is in no way intended to be used, nor should it ever be used, as a substitute for professional veterinary and/or dog training advice.  If you have any concerns regarding your animal's health or behaviour, please contact your local veterinarian, who is a professional; without delay.


I was asked an interesting question by a dog owner during the week which made me chuckle.  Do dogs sweat and can they become smelly?”  He enquired. My answer was, er, yes and no.  Let me explain.


Dogs don’t ‘sweat,’ or perspire in the same way as we humans do, but they can overheat and yes, they can produce body odour.


Now pay attention at the back of the class, because here’s the science bit.  As humans, when our body temperature builds up due to vigorous exercise, etc., we perspire and it becomes quite obvious – damp patches under the arm pits, moisture droplets on the skin and unpleasant body odour. This is because our sweat glands are distributed all over our bodies. However, a dog’s body is different. His/her sweat glands are located around his/her foot pads (merocrine glands), so when he/she overheats due to hot weather, or due to too much exercise, (which shouldn’t be happening, especially in this heat),  you will  notice little wet paw shaped patches where he’s/she’s been walking. Your dog will also have what is known as apocrine glands which do not function in order to keep him cool, but instead, to release pheromones.


When your pet overheats, in order to control his/her body temperature, he/she will pant quite a bit. This action makes the moisture on his/her tongue evaporate, and the heavy breathing that accompanies it allows the moist lining of his/her lungs to become a surface from which excess moisture can also evaporate. Hence his/her body should cool effectively.


An important tip for those who own bulldogs and pugs: These are breeds with a compromised respiration system, meaning they are at a higher risk of overheating because they are unable to pant efficiently; so please keep this in mind when exercising.


However, sometimes, along with your pet’s panting comes doggie body odour which can be unpleasant for some pet owners. So, as his/her parent, it’s up to you to help alleviate his/her discomfort. Of course this depends on the cause of his/her body odour, and if you are unsure that it’s simply due to overheating, then it’s always best to contact your vet immediately.


In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you to help your dog to remain a cool canine.


● If you believe the odour coming from your dog was caused by him/her being in contact with something unpleasant like fox poo, then give him/her a bath with a normal dog shampoo, but clean and rinse him/her thoroughly – if you’ve ever smelled a dog who has  rolled in fox poo, you’ll know what I mean.  My Jack Russell cannot resist rolling around in it.


● If you believe it’s his/her diet then, consider altering it. However, seek the advice of your vet regarding a substitute food brand, and make the transition slowly.  Some dog food can cause a build-up of oils on your dog’s skin, and a lower fat diet may help with this. Again, always consult your vet before you change your dog’s diet.


● Make sure you feed your pet a high quality dog food. Some low quality foods may not contain the essential vitamins your dog requires to maintain proper health and vitality. Read the label. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


● Prevent your dog from eating dog faeces. Yep, again one of my fur babies has a fascination with faeces. No she’s not strange, it’s an inherited behaviour due to her  being chained up by her previous cruel owner where she used to not only try and tidy her soiled area, bless her, she also used her faeces as a food source, given she was also starved by this cruel individual.  However, it is the case that many dogs do eat faeces for no reason, and you must watch them carefully and try to prevent it from happening by immediately cleaning the area, taking the poo away.


Here’s another tip! If your dog eats his/her own poo, add a few pineapple chunks to his/her food.  Once the pineapple is absorbed, the dog goes to the toilet and then decides to eat it, the taste of the added pineapple will make his/her poo taste bitter and your dog should eventually stop. Sorry, I’ve got no tips for preventing him/her eating other dogs’ poo other than to keep him/her away from it.


Finally, If you’re uncertain as to what is causing your dog’s body odour, (as in you know it’s not overheating or any of the above), then please take him/her to the vet for a full health check because serious health conditions need to be ruled out.  Conditions such as an infection, mange, dental problems and cancer etc., can all cause unpleasant doggie odours, so it’s always best to get an expert opinion and who better to provide this than your local vet.


©  Miriam Kerins



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