Summer Tips to Beat the Heat in NYC for You and Your Pet
By Joy Pape, FNP-C and Nicole Cerniello, DVM
New Yorkers are especially vulnerable to the hot weather hazards because the city can be 10 degrees warmer than surrounding areas. Our infrastructure is largely made up of asphalt, concrete and metal which trap in the heat. In addition to checking the temperature, check the current Air Quality Index at airnow.gov. The site also give you tips on how to protect yourself and your pets.
Plan ahead for the heat
People who are at greatest risk during periods of extreme heat are those who are 65 years of age or older, have chronic medical conditions, have excess weight or take psychotropic or other medications. Also at risk are those who have impaired judgement, misuse drugs or alcohol or are socially isolated.
If you are in a high-risk group, check with your health care provider for precautions.
Stay tuned to the news, visit NYC.gov or call 311 (212-639-9675).
Tips during the heat
• Stay in a cool place. Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
• If you can’t cool your home, consider cooling off at a pool, an air-conditioned store, mall, library, movie theater or cooling center.
• If you don’t have an air conditioner, keep your windows open so that fresh air can flow through your home.
• Check on vulnerable neighbors, family and friends.
• Drink fluids—particularly water — even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Never leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car.
• Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes.
• Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the hottest time of day.
• Avoid direct sunlight, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head.
Heat related illnesses
Know the signs and what to do
Call 911 or go to the emergency room right away if you or someone else has the following symptoms of serious heat illness:
• Hot, dry skin or cold, clammy skin, heavy sweating or muscle cramps.
• Confusion, hallucinations, disorientation, unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness.
• Nausea or vomiting, lack of appetite.
• Trouble breathing.
• Rapid, strong pulse.
• Lightheadedness, weakness, dizziness, feeling faint or headache.
• While waiting for 911, remove extra clothes and drink lots of water.
About those Bulldogs
As temperatures rise, so does concern about bulldogs and brachycephalic breeds. These are dogs with a broad, short skull such as English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Pugs and Shih-Tzus. Their facial features, while cute, make it more difficult for them to breathe even when resting. On a hot, humid day (or a day with poor air quality) these dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Here are some tips if you own a brachycephalic breed:
• Stay cool. If it is hot outside, stay inside. If your pet pulls to go inside on a hot day, do so.
• Make sure your home is cool, leave the AC or fan running. This is also true for cat owners (Persians for example, are also brachycephalic).
• Do not leave your dog in the car—ever—especially in the summer.
• Use a harness instead of a neck collar. Extra tension or pulling on airways can be harmful.
If your pet shows signs of heat stroke (distress, excessive panting, profound drooling, weak or unsteady on their feet, their gums turning blue, purple or bright red) here are steps to take:
• Seek veterinary assistance right away, even if you are unsure.
• Remove your pet from the heat. Get in the shade or inside ASAP.
• Cool your pet off immediately, place in a cold bath or in front of a fan.
If you have a brachycephalic breed, ask your vet about the pros and cons of brachycephalic airway surgery.
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Joy Pape, FNP-C, CDCES, CFCN is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who believes in and practices holistic health and healing. Dr. Nicole Cerniello, DVM is Medical Director for the Greenwich Village Animal Hospital