Welcome to the dog days of summer! The dog days refer to the hottest time during the summer spanning from early July into August and coincide with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the Canis Major (meaning “Greater Dog”) constellation.
For ancient Egyptians, the appearance of Sirius was a blessing, coinciding with the flooding of the Nile River, which brought moisture rich soil for growing their crops. But for the Greeks and Romans, Sirius was a curse, signaling a time of “drought, disease and discomfort¹.”
Our pets may feel this way about the dog days of summer. With rising temperatures come many dangers for our pets. You may be thinking sun and fun, but for our furry friends dog days can bring parasites (fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes), sunburn, overheating and fireworks.
Overheating: For areas of the country where temperatures range from the 70s-100s, overheating may be a concern. Make sure your pets have an adequate water supply and a shady place to get out of the sun. For some dogs, there is nothing more enjoyable than a ride in the car. Take care not to leave them unattended in a parked car. Temperatures inside a parked car can rise as much as 20 or more degrees in a matter of minutes! A car can even overheat if the windows are cracked or if the car is parked in the shade. Dogs with short muzzles, due to a decreased ability to pant effectively, are especially at risk for overheating not only in a parked car but also for short times outside. Be a Good Samaritan this summer and call 911 if you notice an animal trapped in a car. Don’t forget about hot asphalt! If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, then it’s too hot for your dog.
Sunburn: Pets with light colored hair coats and thinly haired ears may be more susceptible to sunburns. Many pet owners are inclined to give their pets a short summer haircut, but this could be dangerous. The hair coat provides a protective layer against the sun as well as from overheating.
Fireworks: Fireworks are often part of our summer festivities. Some of our pets are fearful of these loud noises and may hide, or even run away. For curious dogs, fireworks may pose a burn hazard. Consult with your veterinarian about options to ease your pet’s fear of loud noises.
Parasites: The summer weather provides ideal environmental conditions for parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes to thrive. Ensure that your pet is protected from these parasites with a product recommended by your veterinarian and apply as directed.
Your friends at Virbac wish you and your pets a fun, safe summer!