If you are a fan of the movie ‘A Christmas Story,’ as I am, one of the most memorable scenes that immediately springs to mind is that of Flick getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole. We’ve all heard the myth, will your tongue stick to a pole in the winter? The answer is an emphatic “yes”, if the pole is made of metal.
In the scene, Ralphie’s best friends Flick and Schwartz are arguing over whether this might be the case. Schwartz, knowing full well the gravity of the challenge he issues, rather appropriately for this site “triple-dog-dares” Flick into placing his tongue squarely on the frozen flagpole. And the rest, ladies and gentlemen, is cinematic history.
If your childhood was spent in Canada you no doubt remember the warnings not to stick your tongue to the metal poles or jungle gyms in the school playground. Hopefully you never had to experience that level of discomfort. Unfortunately, we often do not extend the same warnings or provide preventative measures for our pets who spend time outside in the winter. Pets, and in particular dogs, run the serious risk of causing themselves harm when drinking water or eating outdoors from a metal bowl. Often they will innocently affix their tongues to the bowls and severely injure themselves when trying or succeeding to pull themselves away.
What is happening in these occurrences is the drawing of heat from the tongue’s saliva by the metal, causing a rapid freezing of the saliva’s water content. The saliva works against your pet, acting as a sort of superglue and the textured nature of the tongue also serves to increase the saliva’s grasp. Tearing away can be dangerous, but your pet does not know this, they are just scared.
This winter, swap your friend’s outside food and water supply for plastic or ceramic to prevent your pet from having their own ‘Christmas Story’ moment and to stay out of the emergency veterinary clinic.