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As humans, we like to project our own comforts onto our pets. We sleep in soft cushy beds, so our dogs must want that too. We like jewelry and adornments, so our pets must want a cool collar to show off at the dog park. We are entertained by tv, so our dogs must like to watch tv, too. When our feet get cold, especially when we’re walking around on snow and ice, we wear shoes. Naturally, we’d want our dogs to wear shoes, too. In fact, dog shoes make up a HUGE segment of the canine apparel market. A quick Google search for “dog shoes” brought in over 18 million results!
But, new research from Japanese scientists proves that dogs don’t need shoes. So, why don’t barefoot dogs get frostbite?
In a nutshell – dogs have awesome feet.
In more scientific terms, Japanese scientists Hiroyoshi Ninomiya, Emi Akiyama, Kanae Simazaki, Atsuko Oguri, Momoko Jitsumoto, Takaaki Fukuyama explain in their research published in Veterinary Dermatology:
Vascular casts and Indian ink studies showed that abundant venules were arranged around the arteries supplying the pad surface and formed a vein–artery–vein triad, with the peri-arterial venous network intimately related to the arteries. In addition, numerous arteriovenous anastomoses and well-developed venous plexuses were found throughout the dermal vasculature. The triad forms a counter-current heat exchanger. When the footpad is exposed to a cold environment, the counter-current heat exchanger serves to prevent heat loss by recirculating heat back to the body core. Furthermore, the arteriovenous anastomoses shift blood flow, draining blood to the skin surface, and the venous plexuses retain warm blood in the pad surface. Hence, the appropriate temperature for the footpad can be maintained in cold environments.
Basically, dogs have their own internal central heating systems. They have a special system of blood circulation within their footpads that’s main function is to keep a dog’s feet at the right temperature, from the inside-out, regardless of external exposure to snow and ice.
“Dogs exchange heat at the end of their legs. Arterial blood flows to the end of their legs and then heats up venous blood before returning it to the heart,” Ninomiya explained in the study. “In other words, they have a heat exchange system in their feet.”
This doesn’t mean that all dogs will easily handle freezing conditions. This system of heating footpads is a trait that dogs have inherited from their wolf ancestors. Many breeds have been altered in such a way that their wolf-traits have been bred out. Smaller dogs tend to be more easily affected by the cold, so maybe they will need some of those adorable dog shoes.
Does your dog go barefoot or do you make him wear shoes?