Most pet owners are familiar with the “cone of shame,” or e-collar. These devices are helpful for dogs and cats who might be tempted to bite or lick sutures, wounds, or anything else on their body that needs to be left alone in order to heal. Most of the time, these collars cause nothing more than a bit of annoyance for their wearers, but one woman noticed something very strange happening when her dog had to wear the cone.
I was alarmed to discover that my dog turned GREEN overnight.— Dr. Stephanie Olson (@ExoStephO) July 18, 2021
I had no idea why. But it turns out that, as an early Earth geochemist, I was perfectly prepared to find out! 🧵 pic.twitter.com/SnM3iwKXVM
Dr. Stephanie Olson, however, is no ordinary pet owner (if such a person even exists). An astrobiologist and professor at the Purdue University Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Dr. Olson has made a career out of her curiosity, and she turned to her craving for knowledge when she saw that her dog had turned green underneath his e-collar. As it turned out, her field of expertise was just what was needed to discover the cause.
Dr. Olson’s dog, Olive, is a St. Bernard. And, as you might expect, she drools. A lot.
Dr. Olson began by explaining some of the chemistry behind why dog drool tends to stain their mouths red. Did you know this fun fact?
Demoralized by the cone, Olive slept awkwardly on her stomach, which isolated her saliva-soaked neck folds from the oxygen in my living room. pic.twitter.com/JOQydqnmMB— Dr. Stephanie Olson (@ExoStephO) July 18, 2021
As it turned out, the unique combination of dog saliva and oxygen deprivation led to this uncommon chemical reaction.
And the staining along her neck transitioned from rusty red on her chin to rusty green thanks to the combination of her unusually moist neck environment and sustained isolation from oxygen in the air—both symptoms of the cone. pic.twitter.com/CiauNjWLZ6— Dr. Stephanie Olson (@ExoStephO) July 18, 2021
While this is far from the first time green rust has made an appearance on Earth, Dr. Olson now has another dilemma: how to remove all that green from Olive!
So, geochemical friends: any ideas for how to safely remove green rust from dog fur? or any bets for how her fur color will change in the coming days?— Dr. Stephanie Olson (@ExoStephO) July 18, 2021
Let this be a lesson to anyone who needs to put the “cone of shame” on their pet: green may not be aesthetically pleasing on your slobbery dog, but it’s probably all natural!