There’s a lot that people don’t know about dogs. So more than one pittie owner has been surprised to notice connecting tissue between their pooch’s toes.
In fact, nearly all dogs have some degree of foot “webbing,” though it’s not nearly as thick and strong as a duck’s. It helps terriers dig, but above all, it aids in swimming.
(Think how much faster you can travel in flippers.) Water racing for pitties? Maybe not Since Pitbulls are not bred to be swimmers, they aren’t famous for flipperlike feet.
That honor goes mainly to retrievers — Labradors, Newfoundlands, Weimaraners, and Irish Water Spaniels, to name a few. Raised as companions for waterfowl hunters, these dogs are genetically equipped to be all-around great swimmers.
Competitive swimming is no sport for a pittie, despite whatever webbing his feet may display. His fireplug physique works against him in the water.
His head and chest are extraordinarily heavy relative to his overall size, making it hard to achieve buoyancy and keep his head above the surface. He lacks a water-repellent coat to keep him warm.
And his short limbs paddle inefficiently, leaving him in danger of fatigue and, ultimately, drowning. That doesn’t’ mean you can’t take your pitty to the beach, though.
If she likes the water — and she may love it — she can enjoy it without undue risk. Experiment with different types of water situations — a puddle, a flowing creek, a toddler’s inflatable swimming pool, or gentle breakers on a lake. It should be interesting to see which of these, if any, piques your pet’s interest
Safety first around the water
If there are stiff waves or enough water to drown in, be a responsible “parent” and take precautions just as you would with a child. Your vigilant eye is crucial to your pet’s safety.
If a doggy dunk is likely and you’re not sure of your pet’s swimming skills, you’d best put him in a lifejacket. Shop carefully, as not every canine lifejacket will fit a pit bull.
The best bet is a jacket whose fit can be adjusted in multiple ways. Since a pitbull is especially muscular and dense, you’ll need a flotation device with lots of buoyancy, particularly around the neck.
Choose a jacket crafted in bright colors and reflective materials to maximize visibility in the water. Finally, insist on strong handles on the back of the jacket: you’ll need them if you ever have to pull your little buddy out of the drink.
So how did your dog respond to your examination of her toes? Many dogs adore having their paws lovingly handled and massaged.
One pittie owner reports that his pittie likes to “hold hands,” interlacing dog and human fingers. Dog-welfare organizations encourage therapeutic paw massage.
At the end of a long day, your dog’s toes will be tired — unlike humans, dogs literally walk on their toes all day long and don’t use heels at all.
Massage stimulates circulation and “wakes up” nerve endings. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, creating in your dog a sense of calm, relaxed well-being. Just as a human can bliss out on a good foot massage, so can a canine. Don’t fail to explore the spaces between the toes and between the paw pads.
Can webbed feet be the basis for a friendship?
If your dog has strong webbing in his feet, you might be tempted to introduce him to a duck as a potential playmate. Don’t do it! The social history of dogs and ducks is littered with disasters.
The duck would likely wind up as supper. So unless that’s what you have in mind, keep your pitbull away from ducks. That goes tenfold in the case of a platypus.
Though they don’t look dangerous, platypuses protect themselves with a lethal venom that they can eject from their hind feet.
This poison produces excruciating pain in humans, and can easily kill a dog. Steer clear of platypuses….. except as Halloween costumes.
Some dogs love to stick their snouts into an owner’s clog, creating a comical platypus effect. With enough encouragement, your dog may humor you with this disguise long enough for the perfect photo op