Just like us, our animals can be affected by heat. Most of us have heard the phrase "dog days of summer" and we understand it to mean the hot and humid weather we are experiencing.  However, according to National Geographic, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever or even catastrophe.

While the origin of the phrase has been lost, the idea that it is the hottest time of the year certainly remains, and that weather can affect our pets as much as it affects us. Here are some tips on keeping your animals healthy during the "dog days" of summer.

  • 1

    Provide plenty of water

    Just like dehydration is common for humans in the summer, well it’s also a real possibility for your dog or cat as well. Dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, so it’s important to make sure your furry friend always has water in their bowl! The next time you take your pet for a walk or anywhere outside, make sure to bring them a water bottle, just like you would for yourself!

  • 2

    Recognize the signs of overheating

    Heavy panting, thick/excessive drool, vomiting, diarrhea, and dry/red gums are all signs that your pet may be overheating. If you notice this, you should move your pet to a cool place and give them lots of water. Avoid placing your pet directly in cold water because that can cause your pet to go into shock. If you do not see a change in your pet after taking these steps then you should take them to a vet ASAP.

  • 3

    Don't shave your dog

    This may be surprising as most people think that taking off that extra layer of fur will cool your pet down. A pet’s coat is designed to help keep them cool during the warm weather. It’s okay to give your pet a trim, but never shave off all of their coat. Leaving at least a full inch of hair can protect your pet’s skin from sunburn.

  • 4

    Keep your pet's paws cool

    If you exercise with your pet, try doing it in the early morning or late evening. That way, you’re avoiding the hottest times of the day where your pet can suffer burns on the pads of their paws.

  • 5

    NEVER leave your pet in the car

    This may seem obvious, but even leaving your dog in the car for just a few minutes can be dangerous. It takes less than 10 minutes for a dog or a cat to have a heat stroke in a hot car. Leaving your pet in the car in inhumane conditions is actually illegal in 16 states, including New Jersey. So, if you ever come across a pet left alone inside a vehicle, you should try and find the owner immediately. If that doesn’t work, you can even call the police.