What are the dog days of summer and how do we shine through them?

As the weather heats up during what’s known as the “dog days” of summer, we have found ourselves wondering, what that term really means? What are the dog days referring to? How do we help ourselves get through them?

You might be interested to know that these summer days aptly named “dog days” are created from an ancient belief about the brightest star in the sky. They officially start at the beginning of July each year and end in mid-August. Some people claim that these summer days are so excruciatingly hot that even dogs do nothing but laze around and pant 24/7.  Although this may be true, the phrase didn’t originate from a dog’s actions at all. In fact, it has nothing to do with dogs, and everything to do with the stars.

Sirius, also known as the dog star, is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which in Latin means “big dog”. In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. Because the star is so bright (visible to the naked eye from any part of earth), the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that it actually radiated heat and added to the sun’s warmth, which in turn accounted for the long stretch of hotter than hot, scorching summer days.

In reality, it’s the earths unique axis tilt during this period that accounts for the hottest stretch of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the tilt of the earth that allows the sun’s rays to come in contact with it at a direct angle for a longer period throughout the day resulting in longer, hotter days.

Now that we have all the facts leading up to the who’s, what’s, why's and where's of the term, we also think it’s important to share some suggestions as to how you can stay safe, cool, and protected while still carrying out your day to day, hobbies, jobs, and activities during this time.

Since many of our activities require us to be outdoors during these sweltering days, skin protection does become something of utmost priority. Besides, who wants to deal with lumps, bumps, sunburns, and rashes for even one second of life if we don’t have to.

Hats, visors and sun shirts fit the bill for added skin protection. They are designed to protect through their fabrics, offer coverage from the sun for your face, neck, and ears all while keeping you cooler and more comfortable in the heat.

UPF clothing absorbs UV rays instead of letting them through to the skin. Long sleeved sun shirts are designed keeping this very idea in mind. They are tested and rated for sun protection, with many carrying a high rating of UPF50+ for their fabrics. 

If your activities allow, it might be a good idea to incorporate some additional accessories into your routine to ensure that you are safe, and temperature controlled to the best of your ability at all times. These accessories could include items such as the following:

 

- Arm sleeves
- Cool packs
- Cooling towels
- Insulated water bottles
- Gaiters/Sun scarves
- Sun umbrellas
- Sunglasses

Whether working outdoors, horse showing, or simply choring around the barn, it’s important to keep sun protection top of mind, especially during the dog days of summer when extreme temps and those bright sunny days might just push us a little (or a lot) past comfortable. By incorporating some of these product suggestions into your daily lives the dog days of summer will be over before you know it and you will have survived the extreme heat, happy, and healthy.

Until next time, Happy Riding!

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