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Dog ancestors 'lived in cold climates'

Monday, 16th January 2012

Some owners may be concerned that their dog is getting cold when walking their pet in very chilly conditions.

However, new research shows their concerns are unfounded.

Researchers at the Yamazaki Gakuen University in Japan have found that dogs have a special circulation system in their paws that keep them warm when the ground is very cold, reports the BBC.

This suggests, Dr Sarah Williams from the Royal Veterinary College says, that ancestors of today's domestic dogs may well have lived in very cold climates.

Dr Hiroyoshi Ninomiya, a researcher in the study, is quoted as saying: "It is well known that penguins in the Antarctic have a counter current heat exchange system in their wings and legs to prevent heat dissipation and keep the body warm.

"When we found that dogs also have such an excellent system in their paws, we were excited."

The scientists found that when blood in a dog’s paws cooled when in contact with cold ground, it was warmed up through its system of arteries before it could return to the body, therefore preventing the animal’s body temperature from dropping.