The Dog Days of Summer!

Tallahassee Democrat

July 24, 2015

By: Kathy Kinsey












Dog Days of Summer not just for Dogs anymore. Photo by Kathy Kinsey.


The Dog Days of Summer! I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news but these days are quickly approaching…..

Though they are considered to be the hottest, longest and muggiest days of the summer, we Floridians are pretty much accustomed to the heat. But have you ever wondered how they came to be known as the Dog Days? Well, as we are all affected by these long 40 days, it seemed to be the perfect subject for an article.

To say the name came from the stars or that it has a celestial origin would be a good start for the phrase has been around for a very long time. Sirius, considered to be the Dog Star, is the brightest star visible from any part of the Earth and can be found in the Canis Major (large dog) constellation. The term, Dog Days, was used as early as 700 BC. It was also considered to be an evil time when dogs grew mad, seas boiled and man was affected by burning fevers. Drought and plagues were also tied to this event.

In the summer months, the Dog Star, Sirius, rises and sets with the sun which creates a long stretch of hot weather. During late July, Sirius is in conjunction with the sun – this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after – is known as the Dog Days of Summer, so named after the Dog Star. Early stargazers thought the reason for all the hot weather was because the star Sirius and the sun were so close together. But actually, this star simply marked a time of the year when the sun’s heat was at its greatest and was simply due to a direct result of the Earth’s tilt. Sirius is a brilliant white star with a tinge of blue that appears to flicker with the colors of the rainbow. With a distance of 8.7 light years away, Sirius is the fifth nearest known star.

This year, the first day of this season begins on July 3 and will end on August 11, though these dates have changed over the years for in ancient Rome, they ran from July 24 through August 24. In many European cultures, this period is still considered to be the Dog Days. Now if memory serves me, there are lots of hot days following August 11! During this period of time, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the least amount of rainfall which seems to make it feel even hotter. The Dog Days in the Southern Hemisphere occur in February and March in the midst of the austral summer or southern summer, just in case you thought you might be able to get away from the heat….

So, how can you get through these hottest of days? Stay hydrated, and most of all, stay cool. The hottest part of the day is from 2:00pm to 4:00pm – so you may want to find something to do indoors…find some shade…get in the pool….more people are caught off guard by working outside in the heat….and the last thing you want to do is to spend a summer day in the emergency room. You may also want to make sure you are not alone in your yard during these hours or make sure someone keeps an eye on you. A heatstroke is a potentially dangerous heat injury and is something that should be taken seriously. This occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches 105°F or higher and may be combined with central nervous system complications which results in the over exposure to our summer’s high temperatures. There are ten symptoms that you need to be aware of…these may not come upon you in this order…but each of these should be taken seriously and you should seek immediate medical assistance.


  • You notice your skin is incredibly hot
  • You feel dizzy or faint
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or an uneasy feeling in your stomach
  • Vomiting
  • A rapid heartbeat – faster than normal
  • Mental confusion – unaware of where you are for instance
  • Seizures – this one comes on abruptly and offers few warning signs
  • Lack of sweating – it is a full blown heatstroke when you experience this one
  • A severe headache – a serious warning if you don’t already have them






Posted: August 7, 2015

Category: Work & Life
Tags: Dog Days, Heat, July-September 2015

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