What Animals Sweat? Never Heard Facts On Sweat Glands For Kids!

Ayan Banerjee
Feb 29, 2024 By Ayan Banerjee
Originally Published on Nov 19, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Nishtha Dixit
Humans produce sweat to keep cool
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.6 Min

Sweating is a technique through which the body controls its internal temperature.

Sweat glands release a fluid material that passes through our skin's pores. The perspiration drops quickly, and evaporates from the skin, carrying the heat with them.

This allows the body temperature to reduce and cool down. Eccrine and apocrine are the two kinds of sweat glands. Eccrine is the perspiration glands that are present all throughout the body and produce a sweat-like watery substance. Eccrine sweat glands can also be found on the paw pads and noses of cats and dogs. These glands are found on the nostrils and above the lips of sheep and cows. The apocrine one is uncommon in mammals. They are positioned surrounding hair follicles and are known as apocrine sweat glands. In humans, this gland secretes a fatty, oily substance that causes smelly underarm perspiration. These glands are more common in animals, but they are ineffective in cooling because the oily secretion is difficult to evaporate.

Cold-blooded animals like reptiles, fish, and amphibians are unable to regulate the temperature in response to their environment, therefore their body temperature swings to match their surroundings. In the case of reptiles, reptiles will cool down under the shadow of a rock in extreme heat, but in the colder months, they will come out to sunbathe for hours to elevate their temperature. Whereas warm-blooded creatures such as birds and mammals maintain a constant core temperature regardless of the weather. 98.6 F (37 C) is generally a human's internal body temperature. During extremes of weather conditions, our bodies will adjust to keep this normal body temperature. Contrastingly, each species has its own method of temperature regulation. Warm-blooded animals during such extreme weather conditions have a number of techniques to keep cool. Sweat is one of the methods to keep cool. Primates such as apes, monkeys, and humans are the only members of the animal world where sweating is normal during hot weather. Sweat evaporates, keeping the skin cool. Humans produce sweat to keep cool. The hot air that evaporates perspiration carries the warmth and replaces it with cool air on the outside, reducing our body's temperature. Even dogs pant and dogs sweat to keep cool and the underlying mechanism is similar to that of humans.

Cows, as opposed to humans, sweat and pant more. Cows sweat at only 10% of the pace that humans do. As a result, they have a tough time getting rid of the heat, making them susceptible to heat stress. Cows also create more saliva during hot weather, which causes them to lose a lot of moisture. In hot weather, cattle or animals cool by lowering activity, seeking cover or shades, and drinking water. Cows do not have many functioning or active sweat glands, thus they lose warmth mostly through their breath. Simple tubular sweat glands were found at the base of hair follicles in the head, fore, and hind flippers of seals. But they sweat much less compared to other animals. Humans sweat much more than any other animal.

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What are sweat glands and their significance?

Sweating is a distinctly human phenomenon that contributes to their identity. Eccrine, apocrine, and apocrine sweat glands are the three kinds of sweat glands found in humans.

Perspiration or sweating is a cooling process that activates to maintain a comfortable interior body temperature of 98.6 F (37 C). A sweat gland is only found in mammals and one of its functions is thermoregulation. Sweat, which is mostly made up of water, potassium, salt, and other minerals, is used to remove excess heat created by muscles. Eccrine sweat glands are found all throughout the body and primarily secrete water and electrolytes via the skin's surface.

Sweat, especially in humans, is produced by eccrine glands which are positioned near the skin's surface and are mostly used for thermoregulation. Apocrine glands, which are found around the base of hair follicles, have developed largely to produce scents in animals used as a defense or mating signs and are rarely employed to cool the body on hot summer days. The majority of animals have apocrine glands covering the bulk of their bodies. Primates, particularly chimpanzees and gorillas, are the only animals with a comparatively high number of eccrine glands compared to apocrine glands.

Humans are also the only species with eccrine glands that cover almost all of their bodies. These glands generate more sweat-like substances than any other animal. The evolution of naked skin was a prerequisite for the evolution of perspiration in humans. Sweat evaporates quickly from exposed skin, but it collects around the thick hair follicles, creating a cool effect.

Are humans the only animals who sweat?

Humans are not the only animals that sweat. Sweat glands are also found in mammals. This is restricted to primates and equines such as horses, chimpanzees, zebras, and many more animals.

The purpose of sweating in humans is to control the internal temperature, especially in humans and a few other animals as well. Our sweat glands generate a thin, liquid material that escapes through pores and evaporates off the skin when we exercise or become overheated, removing heat and cooling us down. This is the principal method of temperature control in humans.

There are certain animals that sweat, but the mechanism is distinct from that of humans and it does not serve as the cooling purpose in animals. This is because humans have distinct types of sweating glands such as eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. The eccrine gland can be found all over the human anatomy. There are many of these glands in the human body. They create liquid perspiration that cools by evaporating from our skin. These glands are exclusively found on the feet or top lip of dogs, cats, sheep, and cows. They are less in number and used for temperature control in animals. The apocrine one can be seen around the hair follicle. They continually produce an oily, fatty material into the gland tubule. These glands are mostly present in the underarms of humans and are responsible for sweat-like smells. These glands are more abundant in other mammals, but the thick, oily material is difficult to evaporate from the skin and does not aid in heat control.

body temperature to reduce and cool down

What animals have sweat glands?

The sweat gland is only found in mammals. Actually, sweating is restricted to only primates and equines. Primates such as monkeys and apes are the only animals or mammals that sweat in a similar way to humans.

Among mammals, humans are actually considered to sweat the most as a mechanism for cooling themselves. Humans can sweat anywhere from 2.2-3.07 gal (10-14 l) per day if necessary, whereas mammals do not sweat so much. Dogs and cats have eccrine glands, like humans, although they are fewer in number.

There are no sweat glands in reptiles, amphibians, or cold-blooded animals. Sweating does not occur in such species. Similarly, dolphins, whales, and porpoises all dwell underwater and cannot adjust their temperatures via secreting fluids. A sticky mucus-filled substance secreted by these aquatic animals acts as a moisturizer, sunblock, and antibiotic. This sweat is originally colorless, but when it reacts with particular colors, it becomes red and brown. This is often called blood sweat, although it contains neither blood nor actual perspiration.

While sweat is extremely beneficial, it is not used for thermoregulation. They rely only on the surrounding water to maintain a constant temperature. Rhinos, the hippopotamus, and pigs lack sweat glands as well. They rely on rolling mud to produce a cooling effect and provide a protective barrier against both the sun and insects. Similarly, panting, swimming in the water, resting in the shade, and peeing or defecating all over the body are all methods that most of them have developed to regulate their temperature instead of sweating. Blood sweat is the term given to an uncommon substance secreted by the hippopotamus in order to combat the heat. The hippopotamus, unlike horses, lack real sweat glands. They spend the majority of their time in the water, which keeps their skin wet and prevents dehydration.

Some animals like rabbits and elephants have very large ears with many blood vessels that transfer heat into the atmosphere. Also, pigs do not sweat that much because they have very few sweat glands in their bodies.

What animals sweat to cool down?

Primates and equines such as horses and donkeys usually sweat to cool down when working in hot weather conditions. Equus is a genus that includes zebras, horses, and donkeys who secrete watery sweat from the skin surface.

Horses sweat and they have the capacity to develop a form of foam or lather all over their bodies, particularly around the hind legs and neck. In many ways, this foam mimics sweat, but it contains a unique protein or natural detergent called latherin, which gives sweat its foamy look. This may help in the perspiration of horses. As a result, it is exposed to more air and will eventually evaporate from the body.

Latherin is also found in the horse's saliva, where it aids in the chewing of high fiber diets. A horse's shedding depends on the intensity of exercise and the temperature of the surroundings. The efficacy of this cooling mechanism decreases the need for the horse to pant excessively in hot temperatures, and the horse's inability to sweat effectively may be a symptom of a health concern.

Besides horses, the other members of the equine family in the animal kingdom are donkeys, zebras, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, dogs, and hippopotamuses. These are capable of producing frothy, latherin-laced sweat used to cool down. Even donkeys have a similar sweat pattern to horses.

Donkeys are capable of producing the same frothy latherin that facilitates evaporation, creating a cool spot. The zebra is particularly intriguing because the latherin may interact with the stripes in unusual ways. Erect black hairs may aid perspiration evaporation during the warmest hours of the day.

The chimpanzee is commonly referred to be our closest living relative. The capacity to sweat is one of the similar characteristics of humans. Chimpanzees have a high ratio of eccrine to apocrine glands, which assists them to control their body temperature. Gorillas may sweat in hot temperatures to stay cool and comfortable. In male gorillas, this axillary organ is used to produce perspiration and other odors and is very prominent. The fragrance serves as an alarm signal to other members of the group and is also used as a mating sign. The bodies of macaques and baboons look to be covered in eccrine glands. In response to the heat, they create perspiration.

In dogs, a cluster of eccrine glands is located around their paw pads. These cool the body in the same way as humans.

On the other hand, the hippopotamus does not sweat as such. They produce an oily substance that is crimson in color and mucus-filled which acts as a moisturizer, sunblock, and antibiotic. Perspiration is originally colorless, but when it reacts with specific colors, it turns red and brown. It is not used as a process of temperature regulation in this animal.

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Written by Ayan Banerjee

Bachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Ayan Banerjee picture

Ayan BanerjeeBachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Thanks to his degree in nautical science from T.S. Chanakya, IMU Navi Mumbai Campus, Ayan excels at producing high-quality content across a range of genres, with a strong foundation in technical writing. Ayan's contributions as an esteemed member of the editorial board of The Indian Cadet magazine and a valued member of the Chanakya Literary Committee showcase his writing skills. In his free time, Ayan stays active through sports such as badminton, table tennis, trekking, and running marathons. His passion for travel and music also inspire his writing, providing valuable insights.

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