Monday, January 6, 2014

Shake Those Booties

Today's topic must be The Cold, as the State of Minnesota is pretty much closed today and tomorrow. And why not? Frozen flesh in minutes is pretty daunting. Though I imagine Minnesota school children are staying plenty warm dancing jigs.

I am not a cold weather dog. I'm just a southern-born, hound mix. When I boarded the Kentucky rescue van, back in the autumn of 2008, I had short, short fur.

My adoption photo.
Back then, I had very short fur and a gorgeous, muscular physique.
Feel free to comment that I still retain the latter.

Needless to say, when I got to Minnesota, I got right to shivering and growing some more fur. But even after six winters in Minnesota, I just don't have the undercoat of neighbor Johann.

Johann has an impressive undercoat, which he needs help disposing of each spring.

There are certainly dogs better suited to arctic temperatures than me. Here are The 20 Best Cold-Weather Dog Breeds according to Outside.

My favorite is the Tibetan Mastiff.                 credit

Today is too cold for my guys for walkies so I am making due with backyard forays and pacing the house. That is not to say I want to wear my stupid dog coat, as I have made perfectly clear in my previous post: Dog Coats are from Hell.

But staying warm its not just about fur. If it was, we'd all have feet like an arctic fox.

Arctic fox foot
Carmella's foot

Looking at my lovely paw pads, you might think I need to wear booties to keep my feet warm. You would be WRONG.

You might be thinking, well, those tough sled dogs wear booties so Carmella must really need them. You would be WRONG. Those hardcore racing dogs wear booties to protect their paws from the abrasive snow but they do not add warmth. Dog feet stay warm the same way penguin wings and dolphin fins stay warm.

When humans get cold, their bodies shut off the extremities to protect vital organs. Since dogs (and penguins and dolphins) are more sensible than that, we have evolved a different system than humans. Scientists call it a "rete mirabile" or "wonderful network" of veins in dogs' feet and legs that work as a heat exchanger, warming cooled blood to maintain a constant temperature.

Using electron microscopes (and very cooperative dogs), Japanese scientists found:

"that the very close proximity of the arteries to the veins in the footpad meant that heat was conducted from one blood vessel to another. So when blood in the paw's veins cooled on contact with the air or ground, warm blood pumping from the heart - through the neighbouring artery - transferred its heat. The blood was therefore "warmed up" before it returned to the body - preventing the dog's body from cooling down, whilst also keeping the paws at a constant temperature." Pet dogs keep their feet from freezing by Ella Davies, Reporter, BBC Nature

So cancel that Amazon order, your dog does not need booties to get through the winter. Although a patch of sunshine would be nice.

YouTube compilation of dogs in booties


  1. Thanks for the info on dog feet. That must be the same system that the squirrels use. The bunch I feed are out running around and chasing each other like it's a spring day! Either that or they are just plain nuts! Stay warm, Carmella.

    1. Squirrels are nuts. And probably have little propane heaters hidden in those bushy tails. But clearly most animals have tackled personal heating better than humans. Well, other than that discovering fire thing...