*Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 11 seconds.
Aren’t dogs fascinating? They are each so unique and different in their own ways. If you have been your pups human for any length of time, you’ve probably become slightly obsessed with the corky and adorable traits he or she possesses. Heck, you might even have a song that goes with wiggle butt. As dog lovers, we know you can’t get enough when it comes to dog deets, so we compiled a list of 5 bizarre things you might not know about dogs that will have you tilting your heads in wonder.
There is a reason your dog smells like corn chips
After a fun day at the dog park, you and your wet-nosed bestie return home to sink into the couch for some post-park snuggles and a movie. Out of nowhere, you find yourself craving a giant bowl of Fritos..but why? You’ve obviously worked up an appetite from a long day of throwing sticks and tug-o-toy…but why that specific crunchy corn-based snack? Are you sure you want to know? Okay, if you are still here, that’s a yes. That specific corn chip craving actually isn’t so random. It’s your dog’s paws! More specifically, the bacteria on your dog’s paws. Dogs have apocrine glands or sweat glands, and they are concentrated mostly in the pads on their feet. Because these pads are surrounded by fur, there are all sorts of cracks and crevices that make a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of bacterias like yeast and Pseudomonas (which can have a popcorn aroma). But, which one is the culprit for “Frito Feet?” The Proteus bacteria can smell like sweet corn tortillas or yup, you guessed it, Fritos. This smell can intensify after dogs sleep, which could be related to the heat their bodies produce during the nap. All the bacterias are definitely showing up to that fiesta! This last thing might blow your mind a little. Did you know? Exposure to this kind of bacteria could actually be good for your health! Most researchers agree that exposure to a more significant number of microbes enhances the immune system functions. Studies showed that pregnant women who own dogs have babies with a more diverse microbiome and, children who grow up around pets aren’t as likely to suffer from allergies. Isn’t that paw-some and just a little bizarre?
Your dog’s whiskers have superpowers!
Okay, fine, they don’t, but they are super cool and helpful, so if you were thinking about removing them for a “cleaner look,” you might want to consider the following first. Dog’s whiskers are loaded with nerves that send sensory messages to their brains. They are basically built-in radar sensors. Dogs are pretty good at seeing things from a distance but do not have the best vision for seeing up-close. As a dog gets close to something in his or her path, air currents are stirred up. These air currents bounce back when they hit solid objects. Whiskers can detect vibrations caused by these changes in air currents and act like radar detectors. Their whiskers help them “see” things by sending signals and intel to their brains. This can be very helpful when trying to locate a favorite toy in the dark or tracking down a food bowl. It is also convenient for not bumping into walls. Wild dogs use their whiskers to protect them from enemies, hunt their prey, and locate their pack. How about those cute little whiskers around your dog’s eyes? In addition to adding to their adorableness, these small but mighty whiskers are excellent protectors. When even the tiniest particles touch them, it will cause your dog to blink or shake his or her head, causing those pesky infiltrators to go flying instead of getting into the eyes. Even the smallest particle in a dog’s eyes can cause injury, which is just another reason to be thankful for whiskers. While we humans use our fingers for a sense of touch, a dog touches the world with his face. While they aren’t as essential to a dog as much as they are to a cat, you can see the significant role they have in a dog’s world. If you prefer to have them trimmed, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about the whisker anatomy and be sure to share that information with your groomer. Fun fact: Cheerful or inquisitive dogs will raise their whiskers above their eyes, giving them that lovable, wide-eyed appearance we swoon over. When dogs feel threatened or in danger, they will flair their whiskers on their nose and direct them toward the threat.
Your dog is left-pawed or right-pawed.
It’s true! Like people, dogs have a predominant paw. But, how do you know if your dog is a rightie or a leftie? The most widely used research method in determining a dog’s paw preference is called the Kong Test. A kong is a non-toxic rubber toy with a hollow center. When stuffed with food, it can provide dogs with a healthy outlet for the natural desire to chew and lick. The most effective way to extract food from a kong is to hold it still. For a dog, the best way to do that is by using a paw. During the kong test, dogs are given a food-stuffed kong and then observed as they go after the tasty goodness inside. Each time the dog uses a paw to stabilize the kong, the observer records it. Once the treat is cleaned out, they review their observations to determine the “paw of choice.” Many dogs are ambilateral, which means they used both paws the same number of times. If you are looking for a less food-motivated test to try, there is also something called the First-stepping Test. This test begins by having the dog stand with both forelegs level. Whatever paw the dog advances with first is the predominant paw. That’s it! Just one tiny little detail, if you want accurate results from either of these tests, you’ll have to perform a paw preference test over an extended period of time. Both the Kong Test and the First-stepping Test require 50 observations for accurate data. But why does any of this matter? Just like in handedness in humans, paw preference relates to activity in the brain’s hemispheres. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. Each hemisphere processes different emotions, so laterality (dominance of one side of the brain in controlling particular activities or functions, or of one of a pair of organs such as the eyes or hands) may play a role in impacting behavior. The more we learn, the more we can use this knowledge to determine what dogs might be best in the position of emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs. So, which paw does your dog prefer?
Women sleep more soundly with dogs than humans
Research conducted at Canisius College in New York State found that, for women, dogs are better bed companions than humans or felines. But, what makes dogs such great sleep partners? Ph.D., animal behaviorist, Christy Hoffman, speculates that it could have something to do with similar sleep patterns dogs share with humans. Unlike a cat who might be bouncing off walls at 10 PM, a dog is more likely to be tucking in for the evening when their human does. Another compelling thought is that maybe the women in this study simply felt more secure with their dog by their side. Feeling safe is essential for a peaceful night’s sleep. Dogs will go to great lengths to protect and watch over their owners. They alert their humans when there is danger and snuggle like a boss when there’s not. How could you not get a solid 8 hours with that combination of goodness? More in-depth research would have to be conducted to solidify if this theory is correct, but we’re rolling with it. If you have been looking for a reason to allow that cute pup into bed, this should do!
Dogs Have Three Eyelids
The third eyelid is called the nictating membrane. Have you ever looked at a sleeping dog and noticed that his eyes looked white? You are looking at his third eyelid. All dogs have them, and according to Deborah S. Friedman, D.V.M. and diplomate with the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, the third eyelid has four functions: -It acts as a ‘”windshield-washer” for the cornea, clearing debris and mucus off the cornea. -The gland of the third eyelid produces about one-third of the dog’s tears. -The third eyelid contains lymphoid tissue, which acts as a lymph node and produces antibodies to fight infection. -It protects the cornea from injury. The human eyelid also protects and nourishes the human cornea, but it performs similar functions with two eyelids instead of three. The third eyelid is not easily seen in most breeds. If one has not been noticed before but shows up, it is good to get the dog checked out. A suddenly visible nictitating membrane can indicate that there might be something more happening beneath the surface. It is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure nothing serious is going on. Do you have something bizarre or unique to add to the list? Comment below with your additions!