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Dog Days and Dog Stars

For hundreds of years, the hottest days of summer, usually from early July to mid-August in the Northern Hemisphere, have been known as

Keep Cool in the Pool- Dog with googles

the "dog days."

Some believe this is because dogs tend to be less active in the heat, but the origins of the phrase are written in the stars. According to the Farmer's Almanac and National Geographic, "dog days" is a translation of a Latin phrase referring to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.

Sirius is known as the "dog star" because it is the alpha star of the constellation

Canis Major, the "Greater Dog."

In July, Sirius rises and sets at about the same time as the sun. Ancient Greek and Roman astronomers believed that the addition of the bright star to the sun contributed to summer's heat. We now know that isn't true, but the term "dog days" has stuck.


Make sure your dog has access to shade & fresh water at all times.


Even though this year's dog days are coming to an end, summer isn't over yet! It's still important to protect your pet from high temperatures and humidity. Seattle Pup has an article with hot-weather tips, and you can find further information from sites like WebMD, AVMA, and the Humane Society.

Keep Cool!

Make sure your dog has access to shade and fresh water at all times. If possible, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day (early afternoon, about 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM).


If possible, stay indoors

during the hottest part of the day

(early afternoon, about 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM).


Check the pavement when you go for a walk. Hot pavement can be painful to dogs' paws, so, if it's too hot, walk on grass if you can. If your dog is willing, consider booties to protect their paws.

Don’t leave your dog in the car! It can easily overheat.

Consider using a pet-safe sunscreen. AVMA and suggest this if your dog has very fine fur or exposed skin.

Watch for signs of heatstroke.

These include:

  • heavy panting or difficulty breathing (especially for dogs with short muzzles)

  • rapid heartbeat

  • excessive drooling or thirst

  • dizziness or lack of coordination

  • vomiting

  • a dark red tongue

In case of heatstroke, take your dog to a cool area, apply ice packs or damp towels, and contact your vet.


Farmer's Almanac Staff. "Why Are They Called 'Dog Days' of Summer?" Farmer's Almanac. June 29, 2015.

Deborah Byrd. "Sirius is Dog Star and Brightest Star." EarthSky. February 9, 2017.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). "8 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Dog in the Summer."

Justine Lee, DVM, and Izzi Bendall. "20 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer." Prevention. September 1, 2015.

Mary Jo DiLonardo. "How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer." WebMD.

The Humane Society of the United States. "Keep Pets Safe in the Heat." Accessed August 9, 2017.

Becky Little. "Why Do We Call Them the 'Dog Days' of Summer?" National Geographic. July 10, 2015.

Seattle Pup. "The Dog Days of Summer." August 26, 2016.


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