The secret of dog feet: Why dogs can walk barefoot in the snow.
Have you ever watched your dog frolic outside on a colds winter day, and wondered how they can stand walking on the cold snow and ice essentially barefoot? If a human stepped into snow barefoot we'd get very cold very fast, but somehow our canine companions can spend lots of time walking and playing outside in the cold without any noticeable signs of discomfort.
If you've ever wondered why this is so, then you're not alone. Japanese scientist Hiroyoshi Ninomiya, a university professor, wondered why as well. He took his curiosity a step further and decided to research the matter. And it seems as though he may have come up with the answer. According to Ninomiya, dogs utilize an internal central heating system to maintain a constant temperate in their paws, even when they are walking barefoot on cold snow and ice.
The trick to this doggy paw heat exchange system is based on blood circulation. Dog's bodies circulate warm blood down to the dogs lower extremities and paw pads, where the warm blood helps to heat up the colder blood before the cold blood has a chance to move back up towards the dogs heart. The arteries and veins inside dog's food pads are very close together, so that the heat contained in the oxygenated blood from the dog's arteries can easily transfer and warm up the colder blood inside the veins. This not only helps to warm the dog's paws, but prevents blood that is too cold from circulating back up into the dog's body and affect the animals core body temperature.
If you'd like to learn more, Ninomiya's findings on the topic have recently been published in the journal of Veterinary Dermatology.
So now you know how your dog can play outside in the snow for extended periods of time without needing and kind of paw protection. Just keep in mind that all dogs are individuals and it's important to always monitor their outside time, especially in extreme weather conditions.
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