Dog and people sitting around a van.

The star that rises and sets with the sun during the high summer is known as Sirius, or the Dog Star. Forever shining brightly in the constellation Canis Major (Big Dog), Sirius was perceived by ancient people as bringing about the hottest temperatures of the year, giving way to the famous expression “the dog days of summer”.

What this means for your dog is probably more fun and games played outside. Without an approach to their safety and wellbeing, however, they could wind up getting sick or injured this summer. But not on our watch!

Getting Acclimated

Most people begin to step up their summer game around the Fourth of July. We recommend slowly acclimating your pet to any new routine. For example, if you’ve decided to start running every day:

  • Make sure they’re up for it (any weight gain from last winter can make a pet more susceptible to injury)
  • Only go out at dawn or dusk
  • Be sure that the pavement is never too hot for their delicate paw pads
  • If they demonstrate they’re ready, you can move from a speed walk to a jog, or go for longer periods of time.

Simple Needs

Water and shade are going to be your pet’s other best friends this summer, and they should always have access to plenty of both. The Dog Days of Summer suggests that scorching temperatures make it challenging to get anything done. It can be hard to simply hang out during the day, but the risk of heatstroke is very real for pets. 

Heat Safety

Since dogs don’t sweat like we do to cool down, you’ll notice them panting more during hot weather. Excessive panting is a common symptom of heatstroke, as well as:

  • Drooling
  • Elevated internal temperature above 103 degrees
  • Reddened gums
  • Dehydration (pinch their skin by the shoulder blades to see if it returns quickly to it’s normal spot. If it takes time, they’re in need of hydration)
  • Rapid heart rate

Heatstroke can be a life-threatening illness, especially for senior dogs . Please call us for help

Be Flexible

Some dogs won’t comply with their owner’s demands for indoor play time. As long as they are in a shady area with lots of water, they may enjoy extra time out back. 

  • Install a fan to cool them down
  • Keep a close eye on them (don’t leave them alone outside while you’re gone)
  • Refill water bowls with cool, clean water
  • Offer nutritious frozen pet treats

Dog Days of Summer Recreation

We encourage you to keep pet safety a priority in these ways when experiencing the great outdoors this summer:

  • Invest in a pet first aid kit that can be easily carried 
  • Always have an extra collar, Set of ID tags, and leash as a backup (it’s not a good idea to allow your dog to run off-leash in areas where they might run into various wildlife)
  • Extra waste removal bags always come in handy
  • Purchase a snug-fitting doggie life jacket for them to wear anytime you’re on or near water, and always have extra towels
  • Do not leave your dog unattended at campsites or when swimming
  • Give them opportunities to use their obedience skills (commands like sit, stay, down, leave it, and more can make the dog days of summer more fun and safe for everyone!)

What Else?

The Dog Days of Summer provide a great opportunity to remind all pet owners of the importance of microchips, vaccinations, and parasite prevention medication

If you’re concerned that your pup isn’t enjoying the season as much as they used to, please let us know. Our team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital doesn’t want them to miss out on all the fun!