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Chill Out … The Dogs Days of Summer Are Here!

 The Dog Days of Summer are here… How will you cool off your pooch?

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 (Pic from BringFido.com)

 

The Dog Days of Summer are upon us!  With the onset of the heat and humidity, I’ve been asked recently by several different people where they could take their dog swimming to cool them off on hot summer days.  This question got me thinking 3 things right off the bat:

(1) I need to appreciate where we live a bit more:

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Cello is very lucky to have direct access to our lake to take her daily swims:

…and to play in the water alone or with friends…

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…and to do what she loves most – dock diving!

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(2) Just where in New Jersey CAN you take your dog to cool off if you do not have access to a pool, or other safe, clean body of water that is also in a dog friendly area?? Luckily, our good friend, and fellow GSP Rescue of NJ buddy, Ally, had done some of the work for me in a post she included on the GSP Rescue of NJ FaceBook page (Thanks, Ally!!)

…and …

(3) What can you do to keep your dog cool on a daily basis during the heat of the summer?

 

Before I include some suggestions for some dog-friendly swimming holes in New Jersey, and how to keep your pup cool in the heat,  I wanted to share just why people say “Dog Days of Summer.”  Being a dog-lover, I began to wonder why people chose this particular phrase.   If you thought it was just a made-up saying like I did, think again!  Thanks to The Weather Channel, and a little research, I found out what this term REALLY means, and where it originated.  This term dates back to ancient times!  “diēs caniculārēs,” or “days of the dogs” / “days of the dogs,” was what ancient people referred to as the period from the first week of July, to the second week of August.

Now that explains where the phrase originated, and when it started…but one still might ask, “Why dogs?” …Ever hear of the constellation, Orion?

orionOrion is often referred to as “The Hunter,” and is a noticeable constellation observable throughout the world. Close to Orion is the constellation Canis Major, which is Latin for “greater dog.”  According to constellation fables, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs.

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Located within Canis Major is a star named Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star.” With the exception of our sun, Sirius is THE brightest star detectable from Earth. The vivid, blue-white star’s name originates from the Greek word for “searing.”

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Because Sirius is so intense, it was effortless to trace,  even for primitive astronomers. During April and early May, Sirius is evident in the southwest skies only after sunset. However, by the time mid-summer arrives, Sirius rises and falls with the sun.  This would cause Sirius to “get lost” in the daytime skies. Nevertheless, the our ancestors knew that the “Dog Star” was still present in the sky, along with the sun, during the hottest time of the year. These primitive astronomers reasoned that since Sirius was so bright, and present in the sky with the sun, it must be contributing to the heat to produce the hottest time of the year.

Now what the ancient astronomers did not know, is that although Sirius is very vibrant, (according to Dr. Jon Nese, Penn State University professor, and former storm analyst for The Weather Channel, “Sirius is very luminous; if it suddenly replaced our sun, daylight on Earth would be about 25 times brighter than it is now)”… it’s energy (heat) does not affect Earth as much as the sun. Also, in spite of it’s brilliance, Sirius is also about half a million times farther away from Earth than our sun. As it turns out, our ancestors were not exact in their reasoning, but sure provided us with a cool saying for the hottest time of the year…and hey, it has to do with dogs – what’s cooler than that ?! 😉

OK, enough of the astronomy lesson, and onto WHERE you can bring your pup during the Dog Days of Summer. New Jersey is well-known for its beaches, so thanks to rescue pal, Ally, and the sweet, gorgeous Eve (a senior rescue!) here is a list of dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey in case you are vacationing at the Jersey Shore, or live close enough to drive to one of the beaches.

Eve enjoying a day at one of the dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey:

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If you are not fond of the beach, here are two dog parks that I know of that also have a creek or lake for the dogs to swim in:

Timber Creek Dog Park, located at Chews Landing Rd and Somerdale Rd in Blackwood, NJ:

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and Freedom Park, located at 86 Union Street, Medford, NJ:

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Can’t get to a beach or other dog-friendly swimming area?  Cello has some hot summer tips to keep cool during the Dog Days of Summer:

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  • Find innovative ways to cool your dog!
  1. Try a Cool Pet Pad (Available at The Green Pet Shop) – now being product-tested by the GSP Rescue of NJ!
  2. Try a cooling dog vest, or collar.
  3.  Let your pup have fun with a sprinkler, or mist them softly with a hose! (Dogs cool from from the bottom up, so be sure to mist Fido’s paws and stomach, not just the top of the dog.  Also, a cool, wet towel on the ground for Fido to lay on does a great job too!)

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(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

5.  Buy a baby pool!  Cello loves hers!

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  • Exercise your dog in the early morning, or late at night.  These are the cooler parts of the day, and will make a walk or jog more comfortable for both you and your dog. If you just can’t walk your dog during the early or late hours, pick up a pair of doggie boots. Just as they prevent damage to the dog’s paws in winter, these boots also protect Fido’s paws during the summer on hot surfaces like concrete or asphalt.  Dogs absorb and release heat through their paws, so do Fido a favor and pick up some boots at your local pet supply store, or on-line.
  • Supply plenty of fresh water for your dog. Different dogs have different needs when it comes to keeping hydrated and beating the heat. Keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats, and overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration.

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 (Flickr/bigbirdz)

 

 

  • Provide a shady area. Dogs rely on panting and resting in a shady place to keep cool in the heat.
  • Look for signs of dehydration:  Dogs don’t “sweat” like us humans. They cool off by panting.  An overheated dog will pant excessively, have a dark pink-to-red tongue, have a dry/tacky mouth, lift feet to avoid hot surfaces, will slow down on a walk, vomit, become lethargic, and its eyes will be bloodshot.
  • Let your dog dig! (I know, I know) – this is a behavior we normally try to s avoid, and if my husband, Brian, reads this post he will be screaming inside his head, I’m sure!   Dogs dig for many reasons – a big one being frustration – but one reason is to keep cool.  IF possible, (and IF your dog is not digging to escape, or out of frustration) maybe allow Fido to have a “special digging” spot in a shady area.  Cello has been known to dig large holes in our yard and lay in the them to keep cool (sorry, Bri!) 🙂
  • NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave a dog in a vehicle on even a warm day.The sun can heat a car to more than 110 degrees on a 75 degree day in no time…Even with the windows rolled down…so imagine the heat index inside a car on a really HOT day. The interior heat could rise over 40 degrees in an hour, and reach over 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. Dogs can sustain brain damage, or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes in that kind of heat.  Think parking in a shady spot will help keep the temperature in your car down? – think again!  Dogs can get heat stroke even when the car is parked in the shade.  Forget the AC too… leaving the air conditioner on is no guarantee- not only could the air conditioner break, but you also run the risk of noxious fumes building up inside your car. Your dog’s life is never worth leaving them in the car for even a few minutes. When in doubt, leave Fido home!

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If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, write down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number. If the car is parked outside of a store, have the owner paged in the nearest buildings.  If you cannot locate the owner immediately, call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog, and don’t leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.  If the authorities are unresponsive, or too slow, and the dog’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back up your assessment, take steps to remove the suffering animal from the car, and then wait for authorities to arrive.  Each state’s animal protection laws are different – get to know your sate’s laws HERE.

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Most of all – don’t let these Dog Days of Summer get you or your pooch down…take advantage of the heat and spend some time cooling off with Fido, and doing some fun, bonding activities (like swimming) with your pup!  Have fun, and keep cool!

Know any dog-friendly swimming areas in your state – or have some tips on how to keep dogs cool during the Dog Days of Summer?  Please comment and share! 

 

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