Updated: Apr 5
The dog days of summer are in full swing; but what does that phrase really mean? One theory is that dogs tend to be sluggish during the hottest days. Another theory is that the days are so hot, it can cause dogs to go mad. These stories are just silly wives' tales.
This phrase is a reference to Sirius, the Dog Star. During this time of year, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius. On July 23, Sirius and the sun rise and set together. Since the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the sun’s warmth. They referred to this toasty time—the 20 days before and 20 days after the alignment of Sirius with the sun—as diēs caniculārēs, or dog days.
While the phrase might be cute, the dog days of summer can be a dangerous time for our pets. Here are some tips to stay safe this summer:
If your pet will be spending time outdoors, be sure he always has access to plenty of shade, water, and good ventilation. Never leave a pet outside unattended.
Limit exercise. Dogs do not know how to limit themselves. If you’re hot, your dog is probably hotter (they wear a fur coat!). So, stop throwing that ball and head indoors for a water break.
If your pet becomes destructive when he doesn’t get enough exercise, pick the cooler times of the day to burn stored up energy.
If your dog enjoys swimming or other water activities, a kiddie pool can provide hours of safe outdoor fun in the sun.
Think your pet might have become overheated? Signs that your pet is too hot include:
Red or Pale Gums
Increased Heart ❤ Rate
Vomiting or Diarrhea
What do you do if you suspect your pet is overheated? If your pet seems to be overheated, you must work to cool him off immediately. Bring him into a cool, air-conditioned environment. If possible, put him in the bathtub and gently hose him down with cool water (not cold). Cold water can lower the body temperature too abruptly and cause other problems.
If you have a fan, point the extra breeze and ventilation at your pet. Check his temperature periodically while you’re cooling him down. If he started at 104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, try to get him down to 103 degrees before putting him into the car (the air conditioning should already be running full blast). Contact your veterinarian immediately; if it is after hours, contact an emergency animal hospital.
A pet that is suffering from heatstroke must be seen by a veterinarian, even if he seems to have recovered. Frequently, these pets can go into shock and their organs can shut down. When you arrive at our clinic, we will begin to treat your pet immediately. Occasionally, overcooling can occur at home and your pet can become hypothermic. Even after your pet is cooled appropriately, he is not out of the woods yet. Side effects of heatstroke can be deadly and can show up a day to a week later. These include organ failure, intestinal sloughing, and neurological damage.
Like other health-related conditions, prevention is always the best medicine for heatstroke. For a nice cool snack; pour La Barkeria BarkShine into a clean ice tray and make pupsicles for your dogs.