Paws for thought

I’ve been looking at comparative anatomy recently for an event next year but my mind went to it again this morning as I pulled on my boots to walk out into the frosty -7 degrees park.

I was wrapped up against the elements but the dogs were essentially barefoot.

Why didn’t their paws get cold?

It turns out that dogs have the same circulatory system in their feet as artic foxes and polar bears, allowing their feet to be a constant temperature down to temperatures of -30 degrees.

Usually veins travel beside arteries.  We have a similar systems in our limbs but in these animals the veins are so close to the arteries that it allows heat to transfer between the two vessels.  The heat of the arteries is used to warm up the blood in the veins so that the dogs core temperature does not drop too low.  The result is that the feet stay at a fairly constant temperature.

This is nature’s answer.

Man’s answer is to invent booties that are strapped around the dogs legs.  Strap them too tight and you may affect the blood flow that is actually keeping the dogs paws warm, defeating the purpose of putting boots on your dog. Almost the definition of ironic.

If you use booties on your dog to stop them licking off the chemicals that are spread all over the pavement then that is a different use, but be careful not to disrupt natures own heat exchanger.

Author: Anatomy Fundamentals

Janet Philp has spent a lifetime exploring fitness and wellbeing. Starting in group exercise, travelling through rugby to representing the UK at martial arts before including Yoga, meditation, Budokon and personal instruction. Her passion is anatomical function and educating people to use their bodies to their full potential.

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