Winter is not always a fun time to be a pet owner. Sure, some pups have a great time outside like the goofball pictured above. But others are a little less enthusiastic about the cold.
On the scale of one to Iditarod, my dog lands somewhere in the realm of “who do you think you’re kidding asking me to poop in this snowbank?” She pretty much refuses to stay outside for more than 30 seconds in any form of precipitation and dishes out her best WTF face if I try to make her walk on even the tiniest bit of accumulated snow. In short, she’s 20 pounds of pure wimp.
I had always figured that it was because her feet were cold. They are fairly small, and at the bottom of a set of skinny little legs, so I take pity on her and tell myself if she wasn’t such a dedicated nudist I’d have bought her doggy boots by now.
But now I realize she’s a big faker.
See, dog feet are designed to withstand the cold. A study recently published in the journal “Veterinary Dermatology” revealed that canine paws are made to withstand temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius. Blood vessels are laid out with arteries and veins passing closely by each other, which means that as soon as blood gets cold, it is immediately warmed again. The blood is also quickly circulated out of the paws so it stays warm, which keeps the dog’s overall body temperature relatively steady. There is also plenty of fat and connective tissue in the paw pads so that they are fairly well insulated from the cold, much like a penguin’s wing.
This means your dog is most likely perfectly safe playing outside in the snow for a while, presuming you don’t live inside the Arctic circle. Of course, it may still have an aversion to getting its delicate little paws wet in the snow, so if you still fall prey to the sad face it makes when you try and get it to pee on an ice patch, don’t feel bad. I’ll probably still carry my own dog across the street next time it snows. Those eyes can make us do just about anything.