Dogs able to keep their feet from freezing due to specialised circulation system.
If you have ever walked your dog on snow and ice you may have wondered how they are able to withstand such tempretures without footwear like humans then scientists may have finally found out the answer.
Researchers in Japan from the Yamazaki Gakuen University have carried out a study on dogs that looks at the internal structure of their circulation systems. It would appear that dogs have a specialised system within their paws that helps prevent them from freezing.
Their research used electron microscopes that studied the internal structure of dogs paws. They found that heat was transferred from the artery to a network of viens which meant that cooled blood was not able to go up to the body.
In other words the veins and arteries are so closely knitted together that warm blood coming down from the body heats up the cold blood from within the paws thus not allowing the a drastic change in body temperature.
Other animals have similar systems including the penguin and dolphins to keep them warm in such cold conditions. Furthermore foxes and wolves that live in cold climates have also adapted their bodies to survive the cold conditions.
The paws have always been a curiosity as dogs can last long periods of time on snow and ice and are fine. Paws are also not heavily covered with fur like other parts of the body. A previous study made by scientists showed that the tissue in a canine’s paws can withstand temperatures as low as -35c before they will start freezing. The researchers in Japan wanted to find out if the same was true in domestic dogs.
The exact process has been described as a “counter current heat exchange system” and is evident in penguin’s wings too. When the researchers discovered it in domestic dogs they were excited.
The discovery also sheds more light on the theory behind the evolution of dogs. There is still debate on when and where in the world dogs were dometsicated. Now it could be suggested that they lived in extremely cold conditions where their bodies had to adapt to survive the freezing weather.
The findings have been published in an online journal released by the researchers from the university.