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ROME (Reuters Life!) - The Dog Days of summer hit Rome on Wednesday as temperatures soared toward 40 degrees Celsius, but for the city's canines salvation was at hand in the form of its first doggy swimming pool.
While tourists and Rome residents who stuck out the sizzling summer temperatures devoured ice-creams or splashed in the city's historic fountains to keep cool, pet lovers accompanied their dogs to "Bau Beach" by the banks of the river Tiber.
"This is a paradise, especially for dogs but for the owners too," said Massimo Lupo, as his pet splashed around in the 50-cm deep pool, surrounded by grass and trees.
The organizer of Bau Beach, Pierpaolo Azzone, said animals were provided with water and bins of food, but owners had to remain with their pets at all times. Before being turned into Rome's first doggy pool, the area was a disused sports facility.
Summer heatwaves can be detrimental to dogs' health as they have a higher internal temperature than humans and can get hot very quickly. Unlike humans, who have sweat glands all over their bodies, dogs have glands only between the pads of their feet. They also pant to remain cool.
For some owners, keeping Fido happy was their top priority during the traditional mid-August holiday. Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Bau Beach has notched up more than 3,000 dogs registered in its first month.
"I do everything possible for him," said pensioner Vincenzo Vinci, gesturing to his dog. "I give up my holidays too."
The Dog Days of summer, or caniculae dies, was the term used by ancient Romans to refer to the hottest days of the year falling between early July and late August, presaged by the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, just before the sun.
Reporting by Cristiano Corvino; writing by Daniel Flynn