Science

Scientists Explain Why Dogs Are Sloppier Drinkers Than Cats

Ever wondered why dogs are sloppier drinkers than cats? Well, there is an interesting scientific explanation. Cats and dogs both use unique lapping strategies to suck up liquid through their tongues. But cats are known to be much neater drinkers. The explanation comes from the same team that explained, three years ago, how cats drink.

Dogs Sloppy Drinkers

A mysterious animal behavior

Scientists also explained why large dogs make more splashing than smaller ones. They discussed findings of the study at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting in San Francisco. The study offers insights into this basic but mysterious animal behavior. Even though dogs are sloppy when they drink, they employ a clever strategy.

Dogs and cats can’t drink liquids like humans because their cheeks are suited for a four-legged predator, said Sunghwan Jung of Virginia Tech and co-author of the study. Cats suck up water through a two-part process, which consists of plunge and pull. They gently take their tongue to the water surface and withdraw water. It creates a water column underneath the retracting tongue of a cat.

Dogs have to open their mouth more to take in the liquid

Researchers initially thought dogs drink the same way as cats. But the study revealed that there was a huge difference. Dogs smash their tongues on the surface of water, something cats never do. When a dog withdraws its tongue from water, it creates about five times more acceleration than gravity, resulting into water columns that feed up into the dog’s mouth.

Scientists placed cameras under the water surface to map the surface area of a dog’s tongue that splashes down while drinking. They found that bigger dogs drink liquids with a greater wetted area of the tongue. It suggests that there is a proportional relationship between body weight and water contact area of a dog’s tongue. The dogs’ ladle-like tongue tip also requires it to open its mouth a bit more to suck in the water. It causes even more splish-splashing.