Dog Days of Summer
When someone refers to the Dog Days of Summer, they are actually referencing the hottest time of the year, typically July 3-August 11. The phrase has its origins from the Greeks and Romans when the Sirius “Dog Star” appeared to rise before the sun in late July. Sirius, the Dog Star, is part of the constellation Canis Majoris -the Greater Dog. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky. How appropriate for us dog lovers who believe the sun and stars rise and fall on our beloved canine companions!
For pet owners and pet sitters, it’s also a time of year when we must seek creative ways to keep our pets safely entertained and exercised during the hot summer months. As pets still need exercise, especially the young and agile breeds, a daily walk becomes problematic if you live in high heat country (pretty much most of the U.S.)
Heatstroke is a serious summer threat for dogs
Any dog can suffer heatstroke within minutes. Don a fur coat and go for a walk outside to grasp how bad it is for them. As a result, short-nosed and overweight dogs over heat quicker. Brachycephalic breeds with their flat faces and short skulls include Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, Pugs, Pekinese, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terriers, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles, and Bull Mastiffs. Their airways are already compromised by a reduced ability to breathe which make them highly susceptible to heat exhaustion and stroke.
As all dogs regulate their body heat by panting and excessive hot and humid conditions make it much harder for these unique breeds, if not added strain on any dog while spending time outdoors in the sun. If you can’t take Fido for a walk at the crack of dawn or well past sunset, consider these cool-down options instead:
(1). If you have access to a pool, teach your dog to swim! Some breeds are not naturally amphibious or may be reluctant without proper water introduction, so fill a small, plastic play pool with cool water instead.
(2). Serve tasty cool-down treats. Fill an ice-cube tray with low-salt chicken broth or stuff a Kong with peanut butter or cream cheese and freeze before serving. Another fun summer recipe: Blend one ripe banana, 4 ounces of plain yogurt, 1 TB creamy peanut butter and freeze in containers to serve as a healthy doggie “ice cream”. Add sliced apples, carrots or chopped chicken for extra flavor!
(3). Groom your dogs, remove matts and tangles and consider a minor summer trim. Their coats protect them in both winter and summer, so a shave-down is not recommended. A daytime bath in the tub can be a fun cool down moment also!
(4). Invest in entertainment toys and puzzles. A new toy can be fun for any dog! Petmate has several options under $10. Pupjoy entertainment boxes can be customized with premium dog goodies and toys. These fabulous merchants are featured in our Pet Store @ www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop and offer daily deals and discounts.
(5). Cooling dog beds and mats are all the rage this time of year. These special beds include a gel-activated insert to help keep Fido chill.
(6). Take your dog to an indoor day-care facility and let them exercise with other socialized dogs for the day.
(7). Take them with you to dog-friendly establishments. A field trip to Home Depot can be a fun break in routine for them.
(8). Apply Musher’s Secret Paw Protection to their pads as a moisturizer when indoors. This magical wax is available from Chewy.com (you guessed it; also on our website store @ www.doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop)
(9). Light or pink-skinned dogs will benefit by a little pet sunscreen when outdoors.
(10). Install sunshades in your car if you will be driving around town with your dogs during the summer.
Know the signs of heatstroke which include:
- Mental “dullness”
- Red gums
- Excessive panting
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Unable or unwilling to move
- Uncoordinated movement
- Collapsing or loss of consciousness
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, place him/her in a cool tub, shower or wrap a cool towel around the body, including the back of their head and neck. Do not use ice-cold water and keep their head elevated. If you can take their temperature, normal body heat for a dog is 99-101. If their temperature is at 103 or above, call your vet. Temperatures between 106-107 degrees are life threatening.
The best way to avoid heatstroke is to eliminate strenuous exercise, not leaving your dogs outside during the day and (never) leave them in a car regardless if the windows are up or down. A car can become an oven quickly. Should you encounter a dog in a car, call local authorities and if you can, wait for their arrival.
Stay safe and be cool this summer!
photo attribution: Josh Rakower at unsplash.com
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