We've all heard the expression “the dog days of summer” and some wonder exactly what it means. Is it referring to annual summer heat waves when it’s so hot and humid we think the weather has gone to the dogs?
Actually the phrase originated in the days of old when Sirius - the Dog Star - lined up with our Sun. It was thought that when Sirius was in the right position with the Sun their combined energy made the weather even hotter.
(Of course, we now know that no star would warm the earth at even the smallest fraction that our Sun does.)
Regardless of the lore we are approaching the hottest part of the summer season and not only must we keep ourselves cool, we need to ensure our four-legged companions do not get overheated.
Here are a few tips on doing just that:
ALWAYS HAVE A FRESH SUPPLY OF WATER AVAILABLE: ensure you pets have access to fresh drinking water at all times. Remember, dogs do not sweat. They keep cool by expelling body heat build-up by panting through their mouths.
OUTSIDE SHELTER: Your dog might enjoy a little sunbathing, but they ultimately need a cool, shady spot to relax. Prolonged sun exposure not only leads to heat exhaustion, it can also cause sunburn. (Yes, dogs can get sunburned too!) While sunscreen is available for dogs, it is not ideal. The best thing is to offer shelter. Shade from trees is nice, but not perfect - an actual structure is better. Consider getting an insulated dog house, but make sure it is large and well-ventilated.
POOLS FOR A COOLING DIP: if your dog loves the water you may consider keeping a kiddie-pool handy so they can take a soothing dip when needed. Also, keep the pool in a shady area so the water is not heated by the open sunlight. Also, empty the pool each day or cover when not in use so as not to become a breeding are for mosquitoes.
Regardless of the options you may provide to help keep your dog cool, always remember to keep an eye on your pet. When in doubt – move your dog to a cooler area just to be sure, and call a vet other concerns arise.