Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
Do Dogs Sweat? Dogs Cooling Off Through Sweaty Paws
If your dog has sweaty paws, you may be wondering what triggers this and what you can do about it. Sweaty paws in dogs are not uncommon. It takes a bit of a trained eye to recognize sweaty paws in dogs at times, as the signs can be very subtle.
Generally, you notice sweaty paws in dogs when they leave footprints around, and the paws aren't wet from water. These footprints are more noticeable on certain surfaces, such as the vet's examination table, on certain dark tiles, or on cement. You will rarely see sweaty footprints on the carpet, and you may never notice them on grass or gravel. Upon touching your dog's paws, they will feel clammy and cool.
Why is your dog sweating from his paws? The fact is, dogs do not sweat as we do. In us humans, sweat glands (merocrine glands) are distributed over our body so we can cool ourselves down. If our internal temperature rises, our body signals the need to lower it by triggering the glands to release sweat, which evaporates and effectively cools us down.
Dogs have different skin, and most of their sweat glands are found on their paws. This is because, unlike humans, dogs cool themselves mostly through panting.
Panting allows moisture to circulate air through their bodies, causing a cooling effect through evaporation. The moist lining of the tongue, mouth, and lungs work as an evaporation surface. Yet those paws are surely working hard as well in ridding the dog of excessive heat. So why are your dog's paws sweating? Most likely, he is hot, but there may be other factors at play.
Why Do My Dog's Feet Smell like Popcorn, Fritos or Cheetos?
If you ever got a whiff of your dog's feet, you may find that they smell just like popcorn, Fritos or that bag of Cheetos you brought from the snack aisle. Why is that?
Dogs do not have scent glands in their feet. Some believe that it is triggered by sweat that has an odor when it becomes trapped within the hair between the footpads, but most likely, it's caused by naturally occurring bacteria and yeast found on the skin.
Many owners find that trimming this hair and washing the pads helps reduce this type of odor. However, many dog owners seem to like this type of smell. Chances are, if you like popcorn or Fritos, you will like the smell of your dog's paws!
Sweaty Paws as a Sign of Stress
Have you ever noticed how the palms of your hands get clammy when you are nervous? Dogs get sweaty paws for the same reason. From an evolutionary standpoint, you may wonder what's the function of those sweaty feet.
It is thought that the sweat is meant to provide traction so the dog can effectively run faster over a variety of surfaces. It's a great aid for the dog's fight or flight response, so he can effectively run for his life when he feels frightened.
If you notice your dog has sweaty paws, see if there's a pattern when it happens. Does it happen on walks? At the vet's office? When you must leave the house? Are the sweaty paws accompanied by other signs of stress?
This will help you determine what circumstances trigger stress in your dog so you can help him. Chances are that you can help your dog by using dog calming aids such as DAP diffusers, Thundershirts, or you may help your dog by implementing dog behavior modification with the aid of a dog behavior professional.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli
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Sheryl on August 30, 2020:
I have a puppy and he’s sweating a lot through his paws. This is normal I assume as he is stressed because we just brought him home. Just want to make sure he is okay and I want to see what I can do to help him.
Rich on August 20, 2020:
!0 year old shepherd, front LH wrist had surgery, failed, wearing a cast from below elbow to paw. Can it sweat enough to build up moisture?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 03, 2018:
Yes, indeed, we had a boarder with separation anxiety and he left these humid footprints from his sweaty paws everywhere he walked. As the days went by though, less footprints meant that his separation anxiety was lessening and that was great news.
J on August 26, 2018:
Please fact check your information!
Jenn on August 01, 2018:
You just solved my query. When I go out, my rescue puppers has separation anxiety. When i come back there are wet little footprints on the hardwood. at first i thought he maybe peed and walked into it, but nope. now that i know all his sneaky spots, i was convinced it was sweaty or he was excessively licking them from stress. Thank you for the article and information
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 11, 2014:
It's one of those little known facts, I guess because it's hard to see. I have yet to notice sweaty paws on my dogs but it could be just because they walk on surfaces where you would hardly notice.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 11, 2014:
I learned another new aspect of dogs.A well- summed up hub and so interesting about dogs
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2014:
Well that was interesting. As long as I've had dogs and I did not know this. Thanks for the great information.
James Kenny from Birmingham, England on August 11, 2014:
Great hub. Fortunately my little Jack Russell has never had sweaty paws as far as I know, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for it after this. Thank you.