When we hear the phrase “dog days of summer” many of us often think of record heat and sweltering humidity. However, the phrase, which dates back centuries ago, most likely had little to do with dogs. Instead it takes you back to ancient Roman times and the study of celestial constellations. The star Sirius (Greek word for searing) is also known as the “Dog Star” which typically burns the brightest during the summer months, so it goes without saying, that when the Roman’s would see the Dog Star shining the brightest in the sky, they learned to anticipated the hottest months of the calendar to be in the forecast and they were correct. The Dog Star legend still seems to hold true today.
Despite the fact the months of August and September typically mark the end of summer and beginning of fall, you should not be fooled into thinking Mother Nature will cooperate with cooler days, as that rarely happens. The fact is, the air temperatures and heat indexes during this time of the year can reach dangerous highs and is often referred to as the “dog days” of summer making being outdoor dangerous for man and his four-legged friends.
Whether your canine companion is a hiking buddy, boat mate, constant companion or hunting partner, keeping your dogs safe during the dog days of summer can be tricky, especially when you are outside in the elements. Here are a few tips to help keep your best friend safe during the days when the Dog Star is shining the brightest.
Think hydration. You know keeping yourself hydrated is essential during the heat and humidity, the same is true for all animals, especially hunting or working dogs. For example, late August and early September dove hunting comes into season around the country. Although many dogs and their owners jump at the opportunity to brush up on their skills with a little pre-waterfowl hunting during the dove season, getting your canine back into condition after several months of downtime, coupled with hot weather and high heat indexes can be a dangerous combination. Watching for signs of heat exhaustion such as fatigue and heavy panting is critical. To prevent problems, consider limiting your dog to retrieve a few doves here and there and not every single dove and volunteer to retrieve a few doves yourself and let your pooch rest in between. If possible try to hunt near a watering hole and give your dog the opportunity to take a dip in nearby water holes between the flights of doves. Look for shade to position yourself and your dog under. Not only will this aid in hiding you both but it serve a dual purpose when it comes to keeping you cooler. Pack a collapsible water bowl and plenty of fresh, cool water for both you and Fido. If you are hiking, boating, camping or any other outdoor activity with your dog consider soaking a light-colored, lightweight towel to cover your dog with. Or you can keep a wet bandana tied loosely around his neck for added cooling benefits. And always remember to pace yourself and your dog.
Signs Your Dog is Overheating
- Heart rate increases
- Panting increases
- Salivation increases
- Pale gums
- Acts depressed or lethargic
- Obvious weakness or dizziness occurs
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Tell us how you keep your pet from overheating in the comment section.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
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