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Hey, Dog days of summer are Sirius business!

July 8, 2007 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode

tucker ajAccording to my mother, the hottest days of the year are called the “dog days of summer” soley because they make our fur-babies so miserable. However, let me take a moment to ‘learn you sumthin’ and make Mr. Peterson, my high school earth science teacher, proud.

The term "dog days" actually has its origin in pre-recorded (Egyptian/Roman) times and describes the hottest, most sultry days of summer--not because it was an uncomfortable time just for dogs but because it coincided with the 20 days preceding and 20 days following the conjunction of Sirius with the Sun (about 3 July through 11 August).

Sirius, the Dog Star or “the big dog“, (a ha, thus why Sirius satellite radio uses a dog as part of its logo) was so-named because it was the brightest, most prominent star in its constellation. Ancient gazers thought it looked liked a big dog, hence the scientific name, Canis Major. Since Sirius is an extremely bright star, the brightest star at night, is high in the sky during daylight hours (twice the size of the sun and 20 times as luminous), ancient follower's thought that its heat combined with the sun was causing this extra warm condition. Thus, the term "dog days of summer" was born.

REMEMBER: Dogs and cats only have the ability to sweat through their pads and feet. Their main method of ridding themselves from heat is by panting.

HEATSTROKE is a medical emergency even for your pets. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, you must act quickly and calmly. Contact you’re a veterinarian immediately. Lower the animal's body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. It is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately. Once your pet is in the veterinarian's care, treatment may include further cooling techniques, intravenous fluid therapy to counter shock, or medication to prevent or reverse brain damage.

Even with emergency treatment, heatstroke can be fatal. The best cure is prevention, and your pets are relying on you to keep them out of harm's way.

SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE * Panting * Staring * Anxious expression * Refusal to obey commands * Warm, dry skin * High fever * Rapid heartbeat * Vomiting * Collapse


(Photo: Mirror darlings, Tucker and AJ, son and nephew of JD and Jeanne Cavrich!. See more of the boys on CU.ALTOONAMIRROR.COM!)

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