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Scientists report that dogs slobber all over the place when drinking water

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.

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Conveyor belt tongue

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Using high-speed X-ray techniques, Crompton and Musinsky looked at what dogs do with the liquid once it's in their mouth. They found that dogs take a few laps before they actually swallow. Once the liquid is in the mouth, the dog brings its tongue in contact with the roof of its mouth, trapping the liquid between its tongue surface and the ridges on its palate. Then the dog extends its tongue again, still keeping it in contact with the roof of its mouth.

"This is the really cool part," Musinsky told LivesScience. "Because the tongue is maintaining contact, but it's also sliding out of the mouth."

As the dog brings another chunk of liquid up with its tongue, the tongue drops away and the first bit of liquid goes to the back of the mouth. Repeating the cycle again, the dog brings a new sip of water to the front of its mouth, swallowing the first lap of water and moving the second toward its throat.

"You've used the tongue and palate as sort of a conveyor belt," Crompton said.

Pedro Reis, an engineering professor at MIT and one of the researchers who uncovered the secrets of cat drinking, told LiveScience he was "delighted" to see the new research expanding the understanding of drinking in dogs.

"As far as lapping goes," Reis said, "this reconciliatory move between felines and dogs is fascinating."

The researchers reported their results in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology Letters.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

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