If you've ever wondered why cats are neater drinkers than dogs, a new study explains the scientific reasons behind these animals' behavior.
This study comes from the same team who, three years ago, studied the mechanics of the way a cat drinks water. This time, they wanted to study the same action in dogs.
The researchers presented their findings today in a talk at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics.
"I was curious about how dogs drink, because cats and dogs are everywhere," said Sunny Jung, one of the researchers on this study.
Cats and dogs both have incomplete cheeks, one of the markers associated with predatory animals. Jung said that originally, the team thought that dogs and cats used similar methods to drink water, but it turns out that they are actually very different. Although they have similar cheeks, cats and dogs use a different motion with their tongues to drink.
It turns out that larger dogs drink by hitting the water with their tongues, while cats are able to drink more neatly by placing their tongues on the water and pulling it up, catching the resulting stream of water with their tongue.
The action of a dog withdrawing its tongue from the water creates a large amount of acceleration, which results in water splashing. The larger a dog is and the larger its tongue is means that a higher area of the tongue will come into contact with the water, moving a higher volume of water. This is why larger dogs like Saint Bernards tend to make more of a mess while drinking than a small dog, like a pug.
The researchers created a model of the dogs' mouth by using a glass tube to simulate the tongue. They did this so that they could more easily experiment with different weights and sizes, since you can't change the physical weight of a real dog.
"We needed to make some kind of physical system," Jung said.
Watch a video showing the way dogs drink, along with more information about the physics behind it, here.