The dog days of summer bring sweltering waves of heat, so we languish, and so do our dogs, longing for cooling, refreshing relief from these hot, muggy days. Many believe that the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of the year, and who can blame them.? Covered with fur, dogs can overheat easily, but the phrase doesn’t refer to lethargic dogs lying around on hot humid days. It actually refers to the summer sky, and a time when Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer to “Dog Days” because they associated the hottest days with the brightest star in the constellation which was known as the “dog star.” The fact is that although the dog days of summer are usually the hottest, they don’t have anything to do with either dogs, or the star Sirius. Instead, the tilt of the earth explains why these days tend to be the summer’s hottest.
Dogs find summer’s high temperatures challenging….they have sweat glands only in their paws, so they don’t sweat…a dog’s primary means of cooling himself is through panting, and as the temperature and humidity rise, the inefficiency of this system becomes apparent. A dog in warm weather need your special attention, and you need to enforce limits during hot weather. Some of the common causes of heat stress include:
- leaving the dog in a car…even in the shade or with the windows open…or leaving her in a hot room or garage with insufficient air flow.
- excessive exercise, or exercise when it is extremely hot outside. Paws can get burned on hot asphalt. When the air temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt temp will be 125 degrees; when air temperature is 86 degrees, asphalt temp will be 135 degrees, and when air temperature is 87 degrees, asphalt temp will be 143 degrees. At 125 degrees skin destruction can occur in just sixty seconds, and paws will get burned. It it’s too hot for your bare feet it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
- lack of fresh water. Make sure your dog ALWAYS has fresh, cool water. On really hot days, toss a few ice cubes into the water. If you go for a walk, always carry along water and a bowl for your dog.
- lack of shade….if you are going to be outside very long, he will need shade. If you can’t find a natural shady area, a pop-up tent or umbrella can provide temporary help.
- sunburn. Despite their furry coats, dogs can still be exposed and damaged by UV rays. Coating their fur and skin with DOGGY UV protectant sunblock will help prevent burns.
A cool pool is always appreciated. Aside from panting, dogs cool down through the sweat glands in their paws. Most dogs love standing, sitting (or rolling around) in a pool of cool water.
Beating the heat is especially tough for backyard dogs ….baking in the summer sun in a barren yard, day after day, week after week, takes its toll and kills many of these poor animals. Sometimes, the owner is not aware of the dangers, and a tactful visit will improve the situation. If this approach does not work, you need to call animal control before it is too late.
A dog’s main weapons against the heat are water…..lots of cold, clean water, and lots of shade.
Summer pet safely isn’t difficult, but it requires some attention. Watch over your dog the way you would a small child…protect him from too much heat, too much sun, and other summer dangers, and both you and your four-footed friend will enjoy the dog days of summer.