Sweating for Survival: Animals That Beat the Heat


Have you ever wondered if animals sweat like we do? Sweating is our body’s natural way of cooling down, but it turns out that humans aren’t the only ones who perspire. In fact, many animals have their own unique ways of dealing with heat and regulating their body temperature. Join us on a fascinating journey as we explore the surprising world of sweating in the animal kingdom.

1. Sweating: A Primate Behavior

Except for horses, which we’ll discuss later, primates like apes, monkeys, and humans are the only members of the animal kingdom who perspire a lot in the summer. The process by which the body controls its internal temperature through sweating is referred to as thermoregulation. A liquid is secreted by sweat glands through the skin’s pores. The heat is quickly removed from the skin by these sweat droplets as they evaporate.

Sweat glands come in two varieties:

  • Apocrine
  • Eccrine

Eccrine Sweat Glands

These glands, which are distributed throughout the body, secrete the watery sweat beads. Eccrine sweat glands can be found on the noses and paw pads of both dogs and cats. These glands are located above the lips and on the nostrils of sheep and cows. The apocrine sweat gland is more frequent in animals than this gland.

Apocrine Sweat Glands

The sweat glands of this kind are situated close to the hair roots. It secretes an oily, fatty material that causes human underarm sweat to smell bad. Mammals are more likely to have these glands, but they are not a very effective way to cool off because the oily fluid is difficult to evaporate.

2. Old World Monkeys

The term “Old World monkey” refers to a group of monkeys that are primarily found in Africa and Asia. The two most well-known members of this group are macaques and baboons. It excludes the lemurs of Madagascar as well as New World monkeys like marmosets and tamarins.

The macaque is a genus of Old World monkeys, the majority of which are native to Asia and comprise 23 species. The Japanese macaque and the Rhesus macaque are probably the two most well-known species. Although they can sweat, it’s not quite as much as that of their giant ape counterparts. This is most likely because of the relatively equal distribution of apocrine and eccrine glands on their skin.

Another genus of Old World monkeys that is indigenous to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is the baboon, which has six different species. Their features include a nose resembling that of a dog, strong jaws, pointed teeth, short tails, a comparatively big body mass, and large buttocks. Additionally, baboons’ bodies seem to be covered in a large number of eccrine glands. According to several research, they do indeed perspire when it gets hot.

3. Horses

Horses, majestic creatures known for their strength and grace, also share the ability to sweat with humans. In fact, my recent research has shed new light on the sweating patterns of horses. When horses engage in vigorous activities or work, such as running or pulling heavy loads, they produce sweat to cool themselves down. As my research findings indicate, this natural mechanism plays a vital role in regulating their internal temperature, preventing overheating, and ultimately allowing them to perform at their best.

The study revealed fascinating insights into the distribution of sweat glands across a horse’s body and how their sweat composition may vary based on factors such as exercise intensity and environmental conditions. Understanding the intricate sweating mechanisms of horses not only enhances our knowledge of these magnificent animals but also contributes to their welfare and the development of more effective strategies for managing their heat stress.

4. Zebras

Similar to horses and donkeys, zebras belong to the genus Equus. Thus, it should come as no surprise that their bodies are able to produce the same foamy latherin that aids in cooling and evaporation surrounding the hair. The possibility of unusual relationships between the latherin and the stripes is what makes the zebra so fascinating. According to certain scientific theories, having upright black hairs may encourage sweat to evaporate during the warmest hours of the day.

However, there is still a lot of discussion over the evolution of zebra stripes, and thermoregulation is only one theory among several. Zebras and donkeys are generally far more alike than they are with horses.

5. Hippos

Hippos don’t sweat, but they secrete a red, slimy liquid that acts like a natural sunscreen, moisturizer, and antibiotic! This amazing substance starts clear and turns red-brown, leading some to call it “blood sweat,” though it has no blood in it.

The skin of hippos is exceedingly delicate and prone to desiccation. To keep their sensitive skin hydrated, they like to roll around in the mud or remain in the water. However, they are extremely wary of their area, though, sometimes they will come up to drive predators or other visitors away. When that happens, their mucus provides more skin lubrication and protection until they can get back in the water.

6. Dogs

The fact that dogs have a cluster of eccrine glands around their paw pads—also referred to as merocrine glands occasionally—may surprise you a little. These cool the body in a manner equal to that of human sweat glands. On really hot days, you may be able to see mist forming around the paws. The sweating process is made possible by the relatively exposed skin. However, this is also the reason why the perspiration is limited to the paw pads.

Dogs are unable to sweat on most of their bodies due to their dense fur. To stay cool, they still have to pant. Dogs are prone to overheating because of their restricted and ineffective sweating system. A good way to help them cool down is to place their feet in cool water.

7. Birds

Birds, with their graceful flights and beautiful songs, have evolved remarkable ways to stay cool. Although birds lack sweat glands, they can still beat the heat. When you see a bird opening its beak and panting, it’s their clever way of releasing excess heat. Additionally, fluffing up their feathers creates air pockets that act as insulation, enabling them to maintain a comfortable body temperature even in scorching weather.

8. Pigs

Pigs, often associated with rolling in the mud, have an interesting relationship with sweating. While they do possess sweat glands across their bodies like humans, their glands are not as efficient. Instead, pigs rely on mud as a natural cooling agent. Rolling in the mud helps to lower their body temperature and acts as a protective layer against the sun, providing them with relief from the heat.


Sweating is a remarkable mechanism that extends beyond humans. Horses, hippos, dogs, birds, and even pigs have their unique ways of dealing with heat and maintaining optimal body temperatures. Whether through sweat, panting, or finding alternative cooling methods, these animals have adapted to survive and thrive in their respective environments. So, the next time you find yourself sweating on a hot day, remember that you’re not alone. Animals are right there with you, utilizing their own fascinating methods to stay cool and comfortable.


Q: Besides humans, do any other animals sweat?

A: Yes! Horses, monkeys, apes, hippos, and even some dogs and cats (through their paws) all sweat to regulate their body temperature.

Q: How is horse sweat different from human sweat?

A: Horse sweat contains a special ingredient called latherin that helps spread sweat through their fur for better cooling.

Q: If an animal doesn’t sweat, how does it stay cool?

A: Animals have all sorts of tricks! Panting (like dogs do), seeking shade (like lizards), using large ears for heat release (like elephants), and even mud baths (also elephants) are all ways animals cool down.

Q: I live in a cold climate. Do animals there still need to cool down?

A: Absolutely! Even in cold weather, animals can overheat from exercise or playing. Thicker fur helps them stay warm, but they might still pant, seek shade, or find ways to cool down during exertion.

Q: Sweating sounds kind of gross. Are there any weird ways animals cool down?

A: You bet! Some birds, like vultures, will defecate on their legs. The evaporation of the liquid waste helps cool them down. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective! Pigs also love a good mud bath, which works similarly to sweating by promoting evaporation for cooling.

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