Camping & Survival

How to Survive the Dog Days of Summer—Survival Tips for Your Canine

Black Dog Jumping into Water

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.

Black Dog Jumping into Water
Let your dogs be dogs, especially when the mercury rises. Allowing time for your canine companion to take a quick dip into a nearby water source can help protect your dog from heat stroke.

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.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. If your dog, show signs of Heatstroke. One method of reducing their heat rapidly, is by applying Rubbing Alcohol too their Paws Pads. The only thing you need to watch out for, is your dogs natural instinct too lick their paws. If needed hold their heads, directed away from the paws and talk to you dog. This will help keeping them calm. A, more drastic approach, in Worst Case Scenario’s, is to apply Rubbing Alcohol directly to the Fur from the Neck down the length of the body. Apply the same calming technique too you dog and seek medical attention ASAP, Like YESTERDAY!!! Remember your dog doesn’t Sweat too rid itself of excess heat. Air cooling of a dog, is it Tongue, Gums, Ears, Paws, and it Groin Area’s.

  2. My dog gets dry food . But on the hot days I will add a lot of water making it soup.She will drink it all giving her extra water even if she doesn’t want it.

    1. Was 102 today. 2cups dry 4 cups water. She thought it was a treat . Try freezing chew toys. She hates a bath but the cold hose she likes.only draw back is wet dog smell. Off topic– keep some tomato juice for skunk spray.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.