Dog Days of Summer Underway

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14 Jul 2024 2:30 PM

The Dog Days of Summer officially began on July 3rd and continues through August 11th and is typically used to describe the most oppressive stretch of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. However, you may be surprised to learn where it originated for the answer. 

We look to the stars during this time of the year, the sun occupies the same region as Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major giving it the nickname of the "dog star", derived from the Greek word for scorching. The star is so bright that the ancient Greeks and Romans believed it gave off heat and added notable amounts of energy to the sun's warmth.  

On July 23 Sirius is in perfect synchrony with the sun. The "Dog Days" of summer classify the 20 days before and after this alignment, and the period typically turns out to be the hottest stretch of the summer. The extra heat has nothing to do with added energy from Sirius. In fact, because of how far away the star is its energy contribution is only about one billion of what the sun provides!

If you're looking to protect your actual dogs (and cats) from the heat, here are a few tips to help our four-legged friends stay safe during the blistering heat.  

While pet paws are built to withstand tough walking surfaces, summer temperatures can make the ground too hot for walks. At an air temperature of 80 asphalt heats up to over 115 degrees. Opt for walks in the early morning hours or after sundown when the sidewalks are cooler. If you can’t wait, walk your pup on grassy surfaces or invest in booties to protect your pet’s feet. The inside of a car can also climb to over 100 degrees in just 10 minutes. Don’t leave your furry friend in the car and always look before you lock!

If you’re thinking about giving your pet a summer haircut to ditch their winter coat, you might think again. According to veterinarian Dr. Barb Cardwell, “shaving is a no-no. You never want to shave your dog down to the skin. Now you can certainly trim them and decrease some of the fluff but the fur that they have is there for a reason and even the thicker coated breeds will trap a layer of cooler air at the surface of the skin and for about a half an inch or so from that surface outward that will help them maintain a cooler body temperature." 

It’s important to know the signs of overheating. If your pet displays any symptoms, move them to a cooler space and consult a vet immediately. Keeping your pets cool with plenty of fresh water and time in the shade or A/C will help both of you enjoy the summertime season. 

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