MANHATTAN — The Second Avenue Subway project is leaving dogs gasping for breath, their owners say.
Many residents are worried about the subway project causing health problems affecting humans, but some veterinarians and pet owners said dogs are also showing a host of symptoms — from coughing, runny noses and skin conditions to psychological issues.
"It is horrible," said Noura Insolera, 26, who lives near the construction hub at East 71st Street and Second Avenue with her 6-year-old Border terrier mix, Winnie.
Insolera, who spends most days working in her apartment as she completes a PhD in sociology, said she braces herself each day for the work being done on the project.
Crews start blasting underground to create the subway's new stations at 3 p.m. and continue until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the MTA.
Insolera said the dogs are on edge from the moment crews use air horns to prepare those in the area for an imminent blast to the ear-pounding explosion itself.
"As soon as the sirens go off, the whole building starts barking," she said, adding that Winnie starts climbing the walls of her apartment. "She runs back and forth, scratches at the walls, tries to jump out the window."
Other dog owners in the vicinity of the project also complained of adverse issues with their pets.
Upper East Sider Estelle Pillar said her 8-year-old American Eskimo golden retriever Lulu is scratching herself a lot more and shaking "like she is wet" since construction commenced near her apartment.
Dog walker Gabrielle Hartwyk, 27, said the 20 dogs she exercises on the Upper East Side have started acting slow and lethargic in the last few of months.
“They all seem very tired," she said. "They don’t want to leave the house."
Upper East Side resident Judith, who feels the blasts from her apartment, said her dog, a 2-year-old miniature schnauzer called Henne, often refuses to walk toward where the construction is taking place.
"Their hearing is so acute," she said. "He doesn't even want to go in that direction."
Veterinarian Dr. Paul Schwartz said Winnie's not alone, as he's seen "a lot" of ill dogs come through his practice, the Center for Veterinary Care at 236 E. 75th St., with conditions he attributes to the construction.
"There has definitely been an increase in complaints," he said.
Schwartz has encountered dogs that were once calm and quiet but now constantly bark, he said. Some dogs have become destructive, while others have developed hacking coughs and nasal discharge, rashes and sores, he said.
"Because of the construction there is an increased stress on animals," Schwartz said, adding that dogs are habitual creatures that do not react well to change.
Dr. Jonathan Leshanski from the At Home Veterinary Services has cited Second Avenue subway construction as the cause for skin conditions and respiratory symptoms in more than half-a-dozen of his pooch patients.
He said he first saw the construction impact dogs living along Second Avenue near 96th Street. Then it began affecting more dogs as construction progressed southward down the east side of Manhattan, he added.
"It started up in the 90s, and I saw it go down into the 60s," Leshanski said, adding that while some breathing issues are resolved on their own, he has had to administer steroid shots in some cases.
For sores and rashes, he's had to dole out prescriptions for antibiotics.
He said he tells dog owners to use air filters in their apartments and wipe down their dogs after walks so they don’t lick any dust residue from their fur.
For those dogs psychologically affected by the construction, veterinary behaviorist Dr. E'Lise Christensen Bell had a few suggestion to ease the angst of dogs.
"For dogs that are agitated even inside, a white-noise machine or classical music could improve relaxation," wrote Bell in an email to DNAinfo.
Bell, who works out of NYC Veterinary Specialists in Hell's Kitchen, also suggested a "dog appeasing pheromone collar" that creates a feeling of well-being and reassurance for distressed dogs or even "mutt muffs for those that will tolerate them."
When asked for comment, an MTA spokesman referred DNAinfo to a previous statement from a report on air quality surrounding the construction.
"The report found that most measured pollutants were below applicable national air quality and industry standards," the statement said.
Tammala Kruger, 32, of the Upper East Side, said since subway construction began, her 6-year-old French bulldog — named King Bob — has been overcome with allergies.
While King Bob has always had sensitive skin and occasionally suffered from sores and rashes, the conditions have dramatically worsened in the last 12 months, Kruger said.
"He won’t even walk because he is itching so much," she said. "It gets so bad I have to hold his paws."