Archive for August 2012

Dogs Days of Summer and Blue Moons

August 3, 2012

We are entering what is often referred to as the Dog Days of summer. The term comes from ancient times when Sirius or the Dog Star, close to the sun and the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major,  rose with the sun this time of year. Ancients thought it had something to do with the hot dry days that usually occur mid-July through August. In the midst of this especially hot, dry summer, it’s good to remember that our pets can suffer the same effects of the heat as we humans do. They can get heat stroke; some signs of that being heavy panting, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea. If you think your pet may be having problems because of the heat, please contact a vet who can help you decide if he needs medical attention. The best precaution to take is to make certain pets have access to shade and plenty of fresh water at all times of the day. Some dogs enjoy having a small pool to play in. Zeke doesn’t care much for water but Foo Foo actually likes to run through the water when I’m spraying with the hose. If at all possible, and most especially on those three-digit days, keeping pets inside is a good idea. Walking in either early morning or later in the evening when the pavement isn’t burning hot helps keep their paws safe. A good rule to follow is, if you can’t keep your hand on the pavement for 30 seconds, it’s too hot for paws. We’ve had a little cabin fever going on when we didn’t walk on the worst days, but sometimes pets, dogs especially, don’t know what’s good for them and we need to do their thinking for them. That applies to Zeke, who often has to be convinced he can give up his patrol of the backyard to come inside and cool off.

One benefit of the hot, dry weather has been the absence of mosquitoes and so far fleas, but I have a feeling come end of summer there will be a sudden outbreak of fleas. Keeping up on both heartworm and flea preventatives is the best way to avoid problems. Prevention is always less expensive than the cure.

Something else occuring this month is the appearance of  a blue moon, which can be either two full moons in one month or the fourth full moon in a season. Anyone who has pets may notice that they sometimes act a little crazy when the moon is full. They have a harder time sleeping (and thus so do we) and seem restless. I really do believe that it harkens back to the instincts that guided their wild ancestors, and I’m pretty sure even the mildest of housepets still has a gene that ties  them to the beasts that howl at the moon. So if your pets seemed to be a little off this past week, then look for it to happen again on August 31 when we will see the Blue Moon. 

Enjoy the summer with your pets, stay cool, and if you will be going to any of our county fairs, check and see if a local animal shelter or rescue group has a booth or display. They are often selling small pet items as fund-raisers and welcome any contributions, as most of them operate on donations only. It’s a good way to help the animals that are looking for their forever homes.