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Researchers Find Dogs' Messy Slurping Makes More Sense Than You May Think

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“Dogs use a very smart (mechanism) to optimize their drinking ... ”

When your dog attacks the water bowl in a frenzied moment of slobber and slurping, it probably looks a lot more like a slippery mess than a honed skill.

Dog drinking water That messy water bowl is actually the scene of a rather cool scientific phenomenon (Image source: Shutterstock)

But researchers at one university found that dogs have a tendency to use one particular technique to maximize how much water actually makes it into their mouths rather than on the floor: they are able to capture the water mid-air.

Sunghwan Jung, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech co-authored the research and explained that some animals, much like humans, use suction to access liquids -- using lips and cheeks to create negative pressure inside their mouths to vacuum up the water. But some carnivores, including felines and canines of all shapes and sizes (like lions or wolves) don't have "complete" cheeks, according to the San Francisco Gate.

An incomplete cheek structure is ideal for opening the mouth wider -- like when animals need to take a big bite out of their prey. The disadvantage? They can't close their lips to create suction, so to get water into their mouths they have lap it up using their tongues.

This lapping motion usually creates the mess on the floor, but it also allows the dogs to drink more. Rather than simply scooping up the water in a spoon-like fashion, dogs actually manipulate the water in a much more complex way.

“Dogs use a very smart (mechanism) to optimize their drinking,” Jung said. The canines extend a wide section of their tongues into the water, using as much of the surface area as they can to disrupt the water. Then their tongues curl up slightly and pull the water up toward their mouths at super speeds, creating a column of airborne hydration.

The dogs then snap their mouths shut around the water.

The research team not only recorded dogs lapping up the water from different angles, but they also used tongue-shaped glass tubes, flicking them in the water in an attempt to mimic and model the canine technique.  The research team released their findings at a Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting for the American Physical Society in San Francisco.

So Fido's watery mess on the floor ? It's actually an amazing feat of hydrodynamics. Watch a slow motion video showing exactly what we mean, here:

(H/T: San Francisco Gate)

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Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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