Paw Pad Sweating in Dogs: Why Does it Happen?

One of the most common product questions we receive at PawFriction is “Dogs sweat through their paw pads to stay cool, doesn’t PawFriction stop their ability to sweat?” We are happy to answer that question because it clears up a massive misconception in the canine world, why dogs sweat through their paw pads. As a vet, when we started developing the product I believed the same thing about paw pads, that the sweating was for cooling purposes. Actually, in veterinary school, we were taught to place alcohol on the paw pads of overheated dogs to cool them down. Well, we know so much more now than we used to and much of the above has changed.

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From the boring side of things, let’s discuss the paw pad sweat physiology. Dogs absolutely sweat through their paw pads but they have a unique type of sweat gland called an eccrine sweat gland. Through a myriad of scientific testing, researchers have shown that these paw pad glands respond to fight of flight situations. This is why a dog’s paw pads sweat when they go into the veterinary clinic. But, why do they sweat then? Sweating of the paw pads causes them to soften which prepares the paw pad for running…it actually increases the friction of the paw pad, it has nothing to do with cooling the dog at all…crazy right? In our research, we have actually learned that critical care veterinarians no longer even recommend placing alcohol on the paw pads to cool off an overheated dog.

The next logical question to answer is: If sweating increases traction then why would we place something over the paw pad? The other thing that we have discovered is that the sweating of the paw pad actually disappears as a dog ages, it is one of the reasons we see such issues with older dogs sliding. Also, PawFriction doesn’t block the paw pad from being able to sweat; there is a large amount of space on the outside of the paw pads for sweating to still occur if used on a younger dog.

We hope this clears up any questions! If you are a podcast person, we strongly recommend this podcast that talks about everything thing above and more: https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/panting-perspiration-and-puddles/

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions!