A lot of people associate the “dog days of summer” with that time of year when your pooch lays around, doesn’t seem to have much energy, and generally prefers air conditioning to being outside. And, they’re right . . . sort of.
The origin of “dog days” is interesting. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with dogs, or with being lazy during the summer. It all started with the ancient Greeks and Romans. ‘Dog Days’ were days that Sirius, the dog star (Canis major in the Orion constellation) could be seen rising just before dawn – generally after the summer solstice (National Geographic). Those were days that just happened to be the hottest days of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. At one time it was believed the early rising of Sirius could bring on fever, or catastrophe, or strange phenomenon like dogs acting crazy! (TreeHugger)
Today we know better of course. But we can still find the ‘dog days’ marked on the calendar – from July 3 to August 11 each year – although depending on where you live, the long, hot days could start a little earlier and last a bit longer (Old Farmer’s Almanac)! In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer tend to be the season’s hottest days, days when we humans are inclined to experience less of an appetite and seem to prefer less physical activity (unless we’re around refreshing water or air conditioning)! Our pets feel the dog days too. They may prefer doing nothing to doing anything at all! Rest assured, if that’s your experience, there’s probably nothing wrong. That’s just the nature of “the dog days of summer”!
How can you help your best friend through the dog days this summer? You might consider a few of the way’s we humans stay cool. Your pooch needs to stay cool too, just like you. According to the Daily Herald and the Farmers Almanac , here are a few ways to help keep your dog safe, healthy, and hydrated during these hot summer days:
- Provide cool water to play in: a kiddie pool (with fun toys, of course), playing at a dog-friendly splash pad or running through a water sprinkler. If you let them swim in a chlorinated pool, though, keep them supervised and rinse the chlorine off afterward to prevent skin irritations. Not all dogs naturally know how to swim. If you go to a river, lake, or beach, use a bright colored life preserver. While wading along the edges of the water, attach a rope to your dog to keep her safe, within reach, and avoid getting carried away.
- Do not leave dogs in a hot car. Cars quickly heat up to deathly temperatures. If you take your pooch with you, place a reminder in the front seat so you don’t accidentally leave your dog at risk. Additionally, if you’re planning a long road trip, try to take several smaller trips in advance so your dog can get used to being in the car for extended times. Allow time for your dog to acclimate to its new environment upon arrival. And, of course, pack appropriately, including a bowl and plenty of water.
- Provide fresh, extra cold water regularly. Dogs need extra water during the dog days, so fill up their water bowl frequently. You may wish to add ice cubes to keep the water cold longer.
- If you have a dog that is primarily outside, be sure there is plenty of shade available and / or let them into the garage to cool off, especially during the hot afternoon. You may also want to provide a cool wet towel in a shady area for your dog to lie on or a frozen water bottle for him to lean against while lounging in the yard.
- If you walk or run with your dog, do it during the cooler morning or evening times so it’s not so hard on either of you. The concrete or asphalt that you’re walking or running on could be extremely hot on your dog’s paw pads, causing severe pain or blisters. Take plenty of water for both of you.
- Consider a trim rather than a shave if you normally clip your dog’s fur. While their fur and undergrowth may make them seem a little warmer, trimming it rather than shaving it will protect your dog from sunburn.
- Give frozen treats. A few simple ideas are frozen fruit or vegetables, such as blueberries, peas, and green beans. Ice cubes can be hard on your dog’s teeth, so consider freezing beef or chicken broth and give them to your dogs as ice pops.
- Inside, allow your dog to cool off by lying on tile floors, lying under a ceiling fan, etc., away from hot, sunny windows.
- Panting is normal, but excessive panting can be a sign of heat stroke or dehydration. If you observe your dog panting excessively, being lethargic, having a decrease in urination, a significant decrease in appetite, vomiting, an increased heart rate, or bright red gums and tongue, contact your veterinarian for guidance.
- Dogs with short noses or dark fur are more prone to heat stress, as are overweight dogs, older dogs, and those with medical problems. Keep an eye on them and contact your vet if needed.
- Do call your vet if you think your pup could be overheated. You may want to wrap your dog in cool wet towels until your vet can examine your dog.
One more tip: you may want to ease up on what your pet wears during these dog days of summer. For example, you may want to lose the bandana or other heavy dog-wear and choose lighter, comfortable dog gear.
Our 100% bamboo webbing is perfect for this time of year. Comfort can be fashionable, too. You may choose our beautiful Bamboo Pooch design featuring our logo dog keeping cool in the shade of a field of bamboo, or something from our Comfort Collection with Colors Inspired by Nature. Bamboo is an eco-friendly sustainable alternative since it is a grass that grows quickly. As a textile fabric, it is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable – perfect for lazy pets during these dog days of summer!
We wish you and your pets a safe and healthy dog days of summer!
Jim and Lisa
Wagging Green Pet Products