Why do we say “Panting Like a Dog?”


Like every other American, I made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. It’s the same resolution I’ve made every year, and I suppose I’ve been successful given that “round” is indeed a “shape.” Anyway, this year I decided running was the way to achieve my goal. I bought new running shoes designed specifically for my gait (according to the sales associate). They didn’t match any of my fitness gear, so I had to buy a new tracksuit, gloves and a new hat as well (a matching outfit allows you to burn more calories – I’m sure someone has done a study to prove this). Then one frosty morning in early January, I donned my new duds and hit the pavement. I returned home a mere fifteen minutes later, drenched in sweat, red in the face and panting like a dog.

As I wheezed and coughed, I wondered to myself where that phrase comes from. Do dogs really pant that much? Why do they pant? A little research yielded an answer.
Dogs pant to cool themselves down. They cannot sweat like us (except on the pads of their feet), so they pant to circulate air quickly through their mouth and over their moist tongue. This creates a cooling system, eventually lowering the dog’s body temperature. Dogs tend to pant more when they’ve been running or playing when they’re out in the sun, or when the temperature of the room is quite warm.
When we humans use the phrase “panting like a dog,” it seems we are being a bit inaccurate. I was not actually panting but more precisely “gasping” for breath. The next time I go for a jog and come home inhaling and exhaling vigorously, I will recognize the difference.

What other frequently misused phrases do you come across pertaining to pets? Please elaborate and help to correct us humans from using mistaken inaccurate phrases in regard to pets.

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