Have you ever wondered what the month of August has to do with dogs?
Back in the Greek and Roman times they believed the days between July 24 and August 24 were dangerous and evil. They feared the sea would boil, wine would sour, and dogs would go mad. Over the centuries this malevolent period was extended from July 6th to September 5th. Here in Florida, we could extend that date well into October.
The brightest start in the Northern Hemisphere is Sirius, the Dog Star, which is part of the constellation Canis Major. Back somewhere in the BC dates, this star was seen to rise just before the sun. Thousands of years later, ( due to the tilt of the earth and the pull of the moon and sun on the earth), the dog star no longer rises before the sun. Now another star rises near the same time as the sun. It is of the constellation Cygnus which is a swan. Maybe we should change the name to The Swan Days of Summer.
Dog days of summer do convey images of lazy dogs lying on the porch too hot to move. It is true dogs do not cool easily. Unlike a horse, dogs do not have many sweat glands, therefore they must regulate their temperature through panting. The most effective sweat glands are in the pads of their paws where there is no hair to stop the cooling process from working. Allowing your dog to put his feet in the water along with getting a cool drink will help him from overheating. Speaking of pads, remember you most likely have shoes on when you take your dog for a walk, they do not. Place your hand on the pavement for 5 seconds. If your hand is not burning then your pup is probably okay, if not walk him in the grass.
Now how about us humans. Even our toughest Floridians are subject to heat distress. If you are an outside person or have a “hot job”, it takes about 10 to 14 days to acclimatized to the intense July/August heat. Acclimatized happens when you start sweating sooner, therefore increasing your loss of body fluid. Increasing your water is paramount and make sure it is not just water you are putting back into your system but electrolytes too.
Living in tropical Florida means a lot of humidity on top of high temperatures. Look at this chart to determine the heat index. Finding yourself in the danger zone could happen quite easily. Here are some things to help prevent heat illness.
- Check your urine, if it is dark, you are in danger of being overheated. Clear is best.
- The heat index is calculated by temperatures checked in the shade. If you are working in the sun, add another 15 degrees to the temperature. This will significantly change your heat index and put you in a higher category of danger.
- Pre-hydrate. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. These drinks tend to make you urinate more, therefore losing too much of your body fluids. Before you go out to work or exercise drink water. Once you are thirsty it could be too late. Drink before you sweat is key.
- Cover your skin with loose clothing and wear a hat, along with polarized sunglasses.
- The hours between 12:00 to 3:00 pm, when the sun is directly overhead, can potentially be the hottest part of the day.
Stay well and healthy, our beautiful Florida winter weather is just around the corner.
Thank you for reading and enjoy,
The KCA board of directors