It’s here – that sultry, steamy, sweaty time otherwise known as the dog days of summer. It’s a phrase most of us have heard to describe this hottest time of the year, and perhaps assume that it has to do with the dogs we know and love.  But would you believe the name really comes from a star named Dog?

Truth be told, the phrase is really a relic from the Greeks and Romans civilizations.

Here’s the story:

As it still is, the time from early July to mid-August was steamy for the Greeks and Romans, and as they were prone to do, they developed a tale to explain what caused the tremendous heat. Also, that was the time of year when the star Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, rose and set at the same time as the sun. The theory went that because the Dog Star was so bright, as was the sun, the two together produced the tremendous amount of heat that caused the earth to sizzle. In fact, this summer, the dog days of summer happen from Sunday, July 3 to Thursday, August 11. 

So, as far as the dog days phrase, our pups have nothing to do with it. What they DO have to do with it is to survive summer’s dog days healthy and happy – which only we can do for them.

For Our Real Dogs: Signs Too Much is Too Much

Whether it’s too much heat, too much exercise, too many loud noises (fireworks), or too much junk food, summer can be a time of fun and frivolity, but it’s also a time when danger signs should be posted everywhere for our canine buddies.

With all the activity and hoopla, it’s easy to become distracted and lose focus on what your dog is up to. Do be vigilant about his activity and get him to a vet immediately if you notice any of the signs below.  

Panting and Drooling

Dogs pant but panting constantly with their tongue hanging from their mouth and drooling indicates that they are overheating. Think how he pants normally, and if he has significantly upped the duration and degree of panting, he may be headed for trouble. 

Heartbeat Changes

Too much activity in hot conditions can result in heartbeat abnormalities.

Breathing Issue

Too much heat exposure can cause your dog’s breathing speed to increase. 

Uncharacteristic Tiredness

Whatever your dog may be doing in excessive heat, he will probably do it much slower than normal. He may sleep more than usual and act downright depressed in general.  


 Your dog may seem confused and unsure and actually begin to fall and stumble. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

An overheated dog may become dehydrated, which can cause stomach problems. An over-celebrating dog may develop gastrointestinal issues because of all the goodies he has managed to pilfer without you knowing.


If your dog becomes seriously overheated it can progress to heatstroke, which is an emergency and life-threatening condition. The symptoms of heatstroke include tremors, severe panting, trouble breathing, and possibly convulsions, which can lead to complete collapse. In addition, his body temperature may be 105 degrees or more.

Temperature Danger Zones

It may surprise you to learn that the danger temperature range for dogs is 68 to 80 degrees. High humidity lowers this range considerably. Watch your dog closely when temperatures rise. Small dogs generally handle heat better than larger dogs and those that have long hair, are obese or have a health issue.

Short nosed dogs also have a tough time when it’s hot because of their short, pushed-in noses and narrow nostrils. 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe During Dog Days

Your goal is to avoid putting your dog in circumstances where he can become overheated or dehydrated. Do beware of the following dangerous situations and take immediate action to keep your dog safe.

In the Car

The bottom line is: NEVER leave your dog in a car even on mild days. It may seem fine outside to you, but an outside temperature of 85 yields a temperature of 102 degrees in a car in just 10 minutes. For summer traveling, only take him in an air-conditioned car or leave him home. Even when it’s markedly cooler outside, never leave a dog alone in a car for safety issues.

Hot Pavement

If a sidewalk, road, or any pavement burns when you stand on it with bare feet, then it is too hot for your dog’s tender paws.  The fact is that the temperature of pavement on a hot day is considerably higher than the air temperature.  Consider: an outdoor temperature of 86 degrees results in a pavement temperature of 135 degrees. Instead, find a nice, shady park or path where your pup can walk on grass or a dirt path. 

Parasite Control

As you know, summer is a parasite paradise with fleas, ticks and mosquitos abounding and just waiting to jump on your dog and wreak havoc. Without proper control from these potentially dangerous pests, your dog may be susceptible to serious conditions such as Lyme disease, heart worm, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more.

The Water Bowl

Water, water, water! Always make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean, cool water. Dogs need water more than we do to cool themselves off and stay hydrated. Always carry a collapsible bowl and some water with you. 

Also to keep him hydrated, you can conjure up pupsicles using healthy ingredients such as bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, chicken broth, bacon, pumpkin, coconut water, coconut milk, honey, and watermelon. Check online for recipes.

In the Kiddy Pool

Consider purchasing a small kiddy pool that your dog can cool off in. If it’s big enough, you may want to get in with him! Remember, never leave your dog alone with standing water, even if it’s an kiddy pool. 

Summer Swimming

When it comes to deeper water, such as a built-in swimming pool, lake or seashore, don’t assume that your dog can jump in after you and swim. Some dogs are natural swimmers and love the water, and some are natural sinkers, such as barrel-chested dogs. But even if your dog can swim, it doesn’t mean he can get out of a pool without help, and if you’re not around, he could drown. When he’s around water, you might want to purchase a doggy lifejacket. 

Preventing Run-Aways 

Fireworks, parties, and thunderstorms can startle and scare even the calmest dogs. When dogs freak, they run or hide, and the last thing you want is for your buddy to take off in fear. When you have guests in your home, be aware that your dog could bolt when they enter or leave. If you don’t have a fenced in yard, or you have your dog outdoors somewhere where there is nothing to confine, then keep him with you on a leash. 

Schedule Playtimes

Playing with or walking your dog during the hottest part of the day is a recipe for disaster. Adjust your schedules so you can throw the Frisbee or go for a vigorous walk together in the early morning or later in the evening.

So, during the lazy, hazy, dog days of summer, do relax and enjoy, but always stay aware and attentive to your dog’s activities and physical condition.  The best strategy is prevention!