Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Keeping animal cool

  1. Apr 30, 2006 #1
    Keeping cool

    :confused: Alright I know that this is a strange question but I and my phd chemist father don't understand this. Here it is and don't laugh. I was going to shave my dog because well summer is here and it would be nice to keep him cool. Strangely enough every single place I go on the internet tells me that a dogs coat actually serves as insulation for the dog to keep him cool during the summer. Every professional groomers site and place I go on the web tells me this as does the person I bring my dog into to have him groomed. I don't get it. I do understand that a dog gives off his heat from his mouth by panting but a dogs body should pretty much be always warmer that the ambient temparature outside. It just makes sense to me that this can only be true if the ambient temparature outside is above his body temparature of which I believe should be around 98.6 degrees. Is there something I am missing here. If you can shed some light on this for me then thanks. :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 30, 2006 #2


    User Avatar

    Next time possibly post this in the Biology board, they know better.

    Have you ever seen a dog having a shiny coat? Could this possible be it?

    But what about a poodle? I know that these were bread originally by the French and English as hunting dogs and wanted dogs that could run across streams without being soaked for the next few hours. Notice the poodle's curly hair that water rolls off of.
  4. Apr 30, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Actually, a quick google search suggests a dog's natural body temperature is over 100 degrees.

    I know that when I am outside, one of the greatest sources of unpleasant warmth is when the sun is shining directly onto my skin -- in fact, I can be simultaneously chilly and too hot because of this effect. :frown:

    I'd imagine a coat of fur would greatly reduce this effect, since the sun is shining on his fur instead of his skin.
  5. Apr 30, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hi, Hurk;
    Long time, no interaction. Nice to see you again. You've pretty much nailed it down. The coat on an animal serves to some extent the same purpose as the melononin in a human; it insulates the body from direct solar radiation. A naked dog, regardless of how attractive Tribdog might find it, would probably suffer serious sunburn or even melanoma if allowed outdoors during summer daylight (and maybe winter too; I don't know that much about UV). The cooling effect of air currents might make the animal feel more comfortable for the moment, but the long-term effects would probably be detrimental. I'm not a biologist, so take this as being my opinion as opposed to a scientific fact... but I'm pretty sure that it's correct.
  6. May 7, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes to all of the above. An animal's fur provides insulation by trapping air between the layers of fur. Just as insulation on your house works to keep out (or in) both the heat and cold, so does the fur insulating your dog.

    A dog's normal body temperature is in the range of 101 to 102.5 F (38.3 to 39.2 C).

    For humans, wearing a coat in summer hinders our cooling because we sweat, and too much clothing prevents the evaporative cooling sweat provides (though natural fibers can help wick away the sweat and heat). Dogs don't sweat, they use panting to cool off (and direct heat exchange with blood vessels in their ears), so their fur isn't hindering cooling, and instead prevents the exchange of heat between the dog and environment (in either direction) along with providing the sunscreen protection Danger mentions.

    If you have a dog with a thick coat (which generally means they are better adapted for colder climates), brushing them really well to remove all the shed undercoat and providing plenty of water and shady, cool places to spend the day will help them stay cool and comfortable in the summer heat.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook