It’s July in Arizona and we find ourselves in the midst of the “Dog Days of Summer.” But do you know where that phrase originates?
Where Does “Dog Days of Summer” Come From?
The phrase “Dog Days” conjures up the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the DogStar, Sirius. The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding, so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made.
You learn something new every day, and you’ll impress friends and family with that one! But impress them more by sharing these pet safety tips for summer.
Pet Safety Summer Tips
Here in Arizona, “Dog Days” is a useful reminder of how dangerous summer heat can be for our pets. The key to keeping your furbabies safe and cool this summer is common sense and proactivity, as these tips from the Arizona Humane Society illustrate:
Limit Outdoor Activity
Your dog’s outdoor activity should be limited to the very early morning hours or late evening, before the sun comes out or after the pavement has cooled down. Even then, keep it light.
- Here are a few ideas for exercise activities in the summer: Ice treats, indoor games, puzzle toys, puzzle feeders, etc.
- Don’t forget about the City of Phoenix’s hiking ban – please take precautions no matter which city you are in!
Know the Signs
Tell-tale signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, weakness, drooling, and vomiting. If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, offer them cool water, slowly cool them off with water or a wet towel and get them to a vet immediately. Learn more about the differences between heat stress heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Provide Water (and lots of it)
The summer heat can quickly leave pets dehydrated and weak. Always make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water throughout the day.
Never Tether Your Pet
Pets who are tethered or chained will often getting entangled, making it difficult for them to access water and shelter.
If you know you’re going to be out in the heat, pack plenty of water for you and your pet. And protect their paws from hot surfaces with shoes or booties.
Take Special Care
Some pets are more at risk for heat stroke. Take special care if your pet is older, overweight, or has a snort nose. Our “smushy face” Pugs and Bulldogs are adorable, but their shorter muzzles also make it harder for them to breathe, so take extra precautions to protect them against heat stroke.
Check and Re-check the Backseat
Hot cars are one of the most dangerous situations for pets and children. Even when temperatures outside are in the ’80s, temperatures inside a car can climb well above 100 in just minutes. Don’t ever leave your pets unattended inside a car, even for a short period of time. If you see a pet or child in a hot car and believe they are in danger, do this:
- Call 911.
- Determine if the vehicle is locked. If unlocked, open a door to enter the vehicle. If locked, you may break the window. Do not use more force than is necessary.
- Remain with the child or pet until the authorities arrive.
Please Leave Them At Home
Our dogs are part of our family; that means that many of us want to include them in all that we do – hikes, trips to the lake, fun at the park, or even lunch on our favorite restaurant’s pet friendly patio. But sometimes, especially in summer, the best (and safest) place for your dog is at home laying on the cool tile, comfortable in the air conditioning, with a good supply of fresh, clean water.
They will miss you for a few hours sure, but oh so much less than you will miss them if they were to succumb to heat exhaustion. Dogs do not sweat in the same way humans do and can easily become overheated. That can lead to heat stroke and severe medical complications, including death.
If you have any questions or concerns about pet safety in the summer heat, contact your veterinarian and they will answer any and all of your questions.