ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The secret of dog feet: Why dogs can walk barefoot in the snow.

Updated on March 8, 2012

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.

Dog (and puppies!) use an internal central heating system to keep their paw pads warm, even while walking on snow and ice.
Dog (and puppies!) use an internal central heating system to keep their paw pads warm, even while walking on snow and ice. | Source

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.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dragonrain profile imageAUTHOR

      Dragonrain 

      6 years ago

      Interesting about bird feet, Rufus rambles!

      I use a product called "Mushers Secret" to help protect my dogs paws from both the snow/ice/road salt in winter and the hot pavement in summer. So far it's worked really well for us :)

      Dog Advisor - like I said I don't recall if the researcher I mentioned in this article looked at whether this mechanism works the same in hot weather as it does in cold. My educated guess would be that dogs to some extend would be able to regulate their paw temperature in the heat as well as the cold, but I'm not an expert. Also something to consider is I believe this trait first evolved in wolves and then carried over into dogs. So something to think about - makes sense that wolves would need a way to warm their paws in winter but they would never be exposed to hot pavement in the wild.

      It's an interesting topic to say the least and something I'd like to do more research on. The only definite advice I can offer is that each owner should pay attention to their individual dog(s) and make sure they are comfortable with the current temperature. If extreme heat or cold seems to bother your dog(s) then there are steps you can take to help keep them more comfortable.

      Thanks to both of you for reading and commenting!

    • Dog Advisor profile image

      Sarah Falkner 

      6 years ago from www.facebook.com/Family Dog Advice

      Great info...my puppy, Daisy, absolutely loves to be outdoors when it is cold and windy(I don't). She just likes the wind in her 'hair' but is really an indoor dog. My question is the same as the other comments, does it work the same on hot surfaces? Summer is coming and it is hot in Texas.

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Great hub! I've often wondered about this. From high school biology class I remember there is a similar system in birds' feet that keeps them warm.

      I live in a place where there is no snow but I often worry about their paws getting burnt on hot pavement... Voted UP!

    • Dragonrain profile imageAUTHOR

      Dragonrain 

      6 years ago

      I don't recall now if the researcher mentioned walking on hot pavement, but I'd guess that the same system would help cool their feet to some extent. Supposedly it attempts to maintain a constant temperate in their paws, so I'd guess that would include during hot weather as well as cold. That's just my educated guess though.

      Thanks for reading!

    • ELeeH profile image

      ELeeH 

      6 years ago

      Does he talk about whether the same holds true for walking on hot pavement? Does the blood help cool the feet?

      Very interesting article.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)