Dog Whiskers

by Perfect Puppy Care on May 11, 2010

Dog Whiskers

Did you know that whiskers are a very sensitive part of a dog’s body?

A dog’s whiskers, which are also known as vibrissae, are more than a cute addition to your pet’s face. Whiskers are actually part of your dog’s sensory receptors and navigational system.

Canine whiskers are thicker than other hairs found on a dog’s body and they are very receptive to touch. The reason for this is that the whisker roots are three times deeper than other hairs. In addition, the roots of whisker hair follicles sit on a mound of a network of nerves, allowing them to function as sensory receptors.

One might compare a dog’s whiskers to an antennae or radar system that receives information and transmits it to the brain. Whiskers allow a dog to feel its way in the dark.

Amazing as it may seem, experts say that dogs use their whiskers to receive information from air current and to detect the presence of prey a long distance away.

Some experts say that dogs use their whiskers in a manner similar to that of rats. Rats use their whiskers to detect whether or not their bodies can fit through an opening. Dogs such as a rat terrier can use their whiskers to sense the size of a rat tunnel, as well as to sense the size, shape and presence of objects in the tunnel.

Some research has indicated that whiskers enable a dog to pick up on things that are going to happen by detecting vibrations. That’s why some dogs become distressed before a thunderstorm arrives. They know the storm is coming long before you do and they are not happy about it.

There has been inconclusive research done to see if dogs can pick up radio signals with their whiskers. While not everyone buys into this theory, many scientists do agree that whiskers can pick up certain waves. They believe that is why dogs are good at knowing when something bad happened or is about to take place.

You have probably noticed that a dog’s whiskers can become split or damaged. If this happens, it is best to leave the damaged ones alone. Dogs do shed their whiskers occasionally and new ones will grow in to take the place of the damaged ones.

Never pluck a dog’s whiskers. Trimming would be the lesser of two evils because plucking a dog’s whiskers can cause bleeding. Whiskers are sometimes called “bleeding hairs” for this reason.

If you notice that there are problems with the dog’s whiskers in addition to hair loss and skin problems, you should have the dog examined by a veterinarian. This could be a symptom of a serious health issue.

It is a good idea to leave your dog’s whiskers alone unless there is an issue with them that you must tend to. The whiskers are very sensitive and playing around with them can cause the dog discomfort.

It is important to teach children to respect dogs. Don’t allow them to pull or tug on the sensitive whiskers. The dog could act in an unfriendly manner!

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