Dogs’ drinking may look slovenly, but it’s actually highly efficient, a recent study featured on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed.
Researchers at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering located in Blacksburg analyzed a group of 19 dogs of different sizes, pertaining to a wide variety of breeds.
Sean Gart, graduate student in biomedical engineering and mechanics, took video footage and photographs of the pets as they allayed their thirst.
By studying the extensive set of images and clips, scientists created computer models illustrating this activity, and determined that in fact the way that canine creatures lap water is actually extremely complex, requiring great skill and accuracy.
More precisely, dogs employ unsteady inertia so as to accelerate the process of drinking, through a specific set of tongue motions which allow water to be pushed upwards, in a vertical surge.
Initially, dogs take out their tongue so that it’s completely submerged in the liquid, then they draw in their tongue so that it’s pressed against their bottom jaw.
Afterwards, they rapidly withdraw their tongue, which makes water soar into their mouths, in the shape of a column. At the same time, they also twirl the backside of their tongue so that they can bring another helping of water towards the top of their mouth.
This intricate process actually takes place with great rapidity: as a large quantity of water is seized from the bowl and ingested, dogs plunge their tongues once again into the liquid, and repeat the steps until their thirst is quenched.
The mechanism, which involves perfectly timed, complex motions that may appear messy to an outsider, is completely dissimilar to that encountered among cats while drinking water.
In a prior study, the same group of scientists had also examined the way felines consume liquids. They discovered that such animals tend to take advantage of steady inertia when completing this activity.
Basically, cats only brush their tongue against the surface, instead of dousing it fully into the water like dogs do. As they retract their tongue, water that accumulated on the top part is easily transported and brought inside their mouth.
After identifying these patterns, it was suspected that a similar process would be encountered among dogs also, given the fact that their mouths are built nearly the same. However, researchers were struck by how much drinking habits and particularities can vary from species to species.
According to Sunghwan Jung, lead study author and associate professor of applied fluid mechanics at Virginia Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, it’s quite fascinating to observe how animals instinctively employ the laws of physics during their daily routines, so as to maximize their efficiency.
Unlike human beings, elephants and horses, who have well-developed cheeks that they can use so as to draw water inside their mouths, felines and canines don’t have this evolutionary advantage, so they had to devise new ways of drinking, based on inertia and acceleration.
Therefore, even activities which casual observers may perceive as rushed or slipshod actually have a logic behind, and make good use of the elaborate mechanisms of the natural world.
Image Source: Pixabay