Using high-speed X-ray video, biologists have found that dogs use the same techniques as cats to lap up liquids, although dogs are decidedly less fastidious.
Carson Ganci/Design Pics/Newscom/File
Despite previous suggestions that cats are daintier drinkers than dogs, a new study finds that canines use the same techniques as kitties to guzzle liquids.
Like cats, dogs depend on the adhesive properties of water to lap the liquid into their mouths. And though the process in dogs is a bit more slobbery than it is for cats, both animals use the tongue like a conveyer belt to transports dollops of water to the throat.
"We were able to show once the liquid got into the mouth, how it was transported through the mouth to be swallowed," study researcher Alfred Crompton, of Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology, told LiveScience. [Watch X-ray video of a dog drinking]
Crompton and his Harvard colleague Catherine Musinsky got the idea of looking at dog's drinking habits when two Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers showed them their data on how cats drink. That study found that cats first touch the tip of their tongue to the surface of a liquid. The liquid adheres and stretches into a long column, around which the cat then snaps its jaws. Based on slow-motion videos of dogs drinking, the researchers believed that dogs use their tongues as ladles, scooping water willy-nilly.