How the Dog Days of Summer Got Their Name


July heralds the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer. For most of us, it means we can expect several “ruff” weeks with very hot, muggy weather. If your dogs are anything like ours, they prefer to spend their time sleeping in the air-conditioned house rather than playing in the yard.

The Dog Days of Summer has traditionally referred to the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But, throughout history, the phrase has meant a lot more... 

Strange Times

If 2020 can get any stranger, it’s likely to do so in July. 

Throughout history, people around the world have associated the dog days of summer with extreme heat, drought, severe weather, fever, lethargy, and overall bad luck.

Farmers in North America associated the dog days of summer with their crops and even had a rhyme to predict how the rest of the year would go:

“Dog days bright and clear
Indicate a good year;
But when accompanied by rain,
We hope for better times in vain.

For ancient Romans, this period of time not only indicated hot, humid weather (which incidentally is one of the biggest reasons for hot spots in dogs), but they also believed the event was responsible for dogs going mad. Pliny's Natural History notes an increase in attacks by dogs during July and August, and advised feeding dogs chicken manure to “curb the tendency”.

Personally, we feel like hot spots and rashes could be partially to blame for a dog's quick temper (luckily, DERMagic is the leading way to treat them naturally)! 

Dog Days in the Stars

The Dog Days of Summer actually refer to Sirius rising in conjunction with the sun, making it visible all day long. This is called the heliacal (meaning, “at sunrise”) rising of the dog star, Sirius.

While the start and end dates vary slightly, the dog days of summer generally begin the first week of July and continue for 30-60 days.

Need more of a visual? These cute dogs explain it as only dogs can!


The good news is that while Sirius is visible from Earth, it's over 8.6 light years away from us - which means it’s probably not influencing much in our weather (or in our lives). 

Stay cool this summer and make sure you protect your pet's paws by walking late at night or early in the morning.  You can help your dogs stay cool by learning how to beat the heat and make sure they (and you) stay well-hydrated and cool.