If you’ve ever watched your dog drink water, you will know that it can be a sloppy affair. A refreshing drink often results in water spilled across the floor, and maybe even on the dog’s paws and face. If you have a cat, however, you’ve probably noticed that they are quite clean when they drink. Many pet owners wonder why this is true, and, as it turns out, the answers are quite simple. Dogs are messier drinkers than cats thanks to the following key differences.
Typically, dogs are much larger than cats, and body size directly affects how messy the animal will be when drinking. Larger dogs are more likely to be messy drinkers than smaller dogs. The reason for this is the animal’s body position in relation to the bowl and the sheer distance that the water has to travel to reach the animal’s mouth. Tall dogs have more distance between the back of their mouths and the surface of the water than cats do, and, because of this, they are more likely to slop water around while they drink.
Both cats and dogs have incomplete cheeks. This evolutionary feature allows these predatory animals to open their mouths as wide as possible to deliver fatal bites to prey. While drinking, however, it places them at a distinct advantage. This is especially true for dogs because their mouths are larger and thus more likely to spill than a cat’s is.
When a cat takes a drink, she places her tongue on the surface of the water and then quickly retracts the tongue into her mouth. This creates a neat stream of water that is pulled directly up and into the mouth. When a dog takes a drink, however, he drops his tongue roughly onto the water’s surface, and then snaps up the water that results from the subsequent splash. The water that the dog does not take into his mouth winds up on the floor or surrounding surfaces, creating a messy situation.
With rare exception, cats are much cleaner creatures than dogs. Most cats care deeply about their personal hygiene and do not enjoy making messes, while dogs are somewhat less affected by some spilt water here and there. This simple species difference leads to cats being neater drinkers than dogs.
Last but not least, dogs consume a greater volume of fluid than cats do, which leads to increased risk of spills and higher probability that not all of that water will make it into the dog’s mouth. If dogs took small, dainty sips like cats, the risk of spilling would be far less.
Thanks to these key differences in size, cheek structure, and drinking style, dogs are much messier drinkers than cats. Pet parents who are bothered by this can place a towel or a specially designed absorbent mat around the dog’s water bowl to prevent damage to floors and other surfaces.