OkcPets Magazine July 2023

32 OKC Pets • July / August 2023 Dog Days of Summer How To Keep Your Canine Cool by Anne Rener S ince we moved to Oklahoma, caring friends have warned us about the sweltering summer heat. As native Texans, we too know heat, where consecu- tive days of 100-plus degrees are common. Yet all this talk prompted some exploration into an oft-heard phrase — the dog days of summer — and how best to protect our pups from, well … sweating like pigs. Dog days traditionally are the days between July 3 and August 11, when the weather is particularly hot. The term itself comes from astronomy and refers to the days when the Dog Star, known as Sirius, appears in the sky shortly before the sun rises. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans believed the rising of the star in tandem with the sun caused scorching temperatures. That isn’t true, as noted in the Farmers’ Almanac. Although July and August typi- cally have the hottest days of the year, the heat is not from Sirius, despite its bright- ness, but instead simply from the earth’s tilt toward the sun during those days. Finding Sirius in the Night Sky Sirius shines blue-white and is the bright- est star seen from earth; only the moon, Jupiter, and Venus are brighter. In Greek mythology, Sirius was the faithful dog of the god Orion, a great hunter. The Orion constellation is best recognized by three stars that appear close together in a short, straight line known as Orion’s belt. Follow that line south to see the brightest star, Sirius. As the anchor point of the constellation Canis Major, or “big dog,” Sirius marks the collar in the outline of the canine and is known as the Dog Star. Staying Cool The tips below focus on comfort and safety for your canine friend when the Dog Star is high. New summer haircut? Maybe not. Many dog breeds are double-coated, which means they have two layers of fur — a sleek, sometimes rough topcoat and a soft, fuzzy undercoat. The two layers work to- gether to keep animals warm in winter and cool in summer. “Dogs don’t sweat like people, and the undercoat acts as their thermostat,” said Toney Butts, owner of Southpaws Groom- ing. “Shaving the layers too close to the skin takes away their ability to regulate body temperature and puts them at risk for sunburn. We encourage thorough deshed- ding in the spring and early summer, before the heat dome rises over Oklahoma. It’s typically two or three treatments about six to eight weeks apart that aid the shed- ding of old fur.” Water play. Remember how refreshing it is to run through a sprinkler when you’re hot? How about giving your dog that same joy? Whether you pick up a light oscillat- ing sprinkler from the home and garden store or opt for one of the playmats or inflatable sprinklers designed specifically for pets, you will have a variety of styles to choose from. Some of them spray water continuously, enabling pets (and people) to run in and out. Bigger dogs might enjoy putting paw to the pedal with a step-on unit. With a Cool down your doggy with a sweet treat — pet-friendly ice cream is available in stores and is easy to make at home. Warning: Do not feed human ice cream to a dog.