Beat the heat for people and pets
It’s hot, hot, hot. The triple digit temperatures in the Central Valley have triggered sweltering conditions in the Sierra Nevada.
With temperatures reaching the 80s and low 90s, some people have been coping with the summer heat by crowding around coolers, sipping plenty of ice-cold lemonade and taking a quick dips in area lakes.
For those unprepared for the sudden spike in temperature, the extreme heat can cause health risks such as heat exhaustion and dehydration. Dr. Michael MacQuarrie, director of the Emergency Department at Tahoe Forest Hospital, said people participating in any outdoor activities like hiking or biking are at risk for dehydration when they don’t drink enough liquids.
“It’s a matter of common sense and being modest,” MacQuarrie said.
The emergency room has seen several cases of dehydration in the past week of warm weather, MacQuarrie said.
While heat stroke is most commonly linked to seniors, exertional heat stroke can occur in young people when they physically exhaust themselves during the hottest time of the day, said MacQuarrie. He said some of the symptoms to look for are dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, and dry, hot skin. MacQuarrie said a person’s internal heat production may overwhelm the body’s ability to sweat, causing heat stroke.
“You’re putting yourself in jeopardy when it’s 100 degrees,” MacQuarrie said.
He said people lose their ability to regulate their internal body temperature as they age. Seniors who have suffered a stroke or who have a central nervous system illness are at risk for heat stroke. Children are also at risk if they are not properly nourished.
“Kids don’t drink (water) because they’re distracted by their activities,” MacQuarrie said.
Drinking the proper fluids is the easiest solution to prevent dehydration, he said. When he’s exercising in warm weather, MacQuarrie said he drinks Gatorade help replenish lost electrolytes, but water or fruit juice work the best.
Meanwhile, partiers rafting down the Truckee River with alcohol in tow are putting themselves at risk for dehydration. MacQuarrie said to stay away from beverages like coffee, tea, or alcohol because they dehydrate the body.
He said the solutions to keeping cool are simple: Drink lots of water, stay out of the sun during the afternoon hours, shed light layers of clothing, and be near water if possible.
Pets have become the latest trendy accessory, accompanying their owners wherever they go, according to the Humane Society’s Web site. Some dog owners let their pets ride shotgun in their cars as they drive around town while others prefer to pack up their tiny pooches in pet carriers while they go about their daily errands.
The Humane Society’s site said that leaving your pet in the car in the summer time can be dangerous for the animal. Within 30 minutes a car’s temperature can reach 120 degrees, putting the pet at risk for heat stroke.
“People don’t realize [pets] can get heat stroke too,” said veterinarian Dr. Martin Fineman from Truckee Veterinary Hospital.
The Humane Society said just leaving the car windows rolled down isn’t enough. Dogs and cats can’t perspire the same way people do. The animals disperse heat through the pads on their feet and by panting. Excessive panting and agitated behavior are some of the warning signs that a pet may be suffering from heat stroke.
Fineman said it’s important to make sure pets have fresh water available and a shady spot to sit. Grooming the pet isn’t always helpful in keeping them cool either, he said.
“Shaving a dog I don’t think is going to help alleviate them from getting overheated,” Fineman said.
For bikers and runners who take their dogs along for a workout, Fineman said they should remember to let their dogs rest frequently.