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Festival Of Caring & Sharing

Diwali can be a stressful time for our pets and stray animals with loud noise and flickering lights. Dr R. Selvakkumar, M.V.Sc., Ph.D, suggests ways to celebrate the festival in a responsible manner

Diwali is the festival of lights. Many of us look forward to the festival because it brings in much joyfulness and pleasure. For us, Diwali is one of the most enjoyable and auspicious times of the year, but what about our pets? Definitely not. Because, the loud noise and smoke make our pets restless and put them through a lot of anxiety and stress. It is a festival of lights and not a festival of smoke and fire. So many ways are available to make the event enjoyable like decorating the house with colourful rangoli, making the home colourful by putting up bulbs, preparing delicious sweets and sharing the cheers and joy with the neighbours. But we make the pets feel bad during this enjoyable festival by producing loud noise and fumes by firing the crackers. This Diwali let’s work towards bringing only joy in your home and not distress for the pets. This festival occasion is a perfect time to share a bond with families, friends as well as with our pets.

Adverse effect of firing crackers

The pets inside our houses and homeless stray dogs get scared and tense when they hear loud noise produced by the crackers. They run here and there and some may escape from their territory.

Dogs have a stronger hearing power than us and they are easily susceptible to high decibel sounds during the festival seasons. Auditory pain threshold in dogs is approximately 95 decibels which is lesser than humans with 130 decibels. Hence, the sound of 190 decibels produced by firecrackers makes the dogs feel uncomfortable. Permanent or temporary sound phobia may result due to the loud noise.

The common symptoms of cracker bursting seen in pets are fear, confusion, salivation, shaking, trembling, shivering, excessive barking, loss of appetite, aggressiveness and hiding themselves under the bed, bench etc.

Sudden bright bursts of light can lead to partial or even permanent blindness in pets like dogs and cats.

Due to poor vision, especially at night, the pet birds bump into unknown objects and injure themselves in response to the loud noise of the firecrackers. The sudden bright glare of burning firecrackers can also blur the vision or cause permanent visual impairment.

Do and don’ts during Diwali

Keep the pets in familiar surroundings. As far as possible, keep pets inside the home and close all the doors and windows in order to reduce the loud noise of firecrackers. Ensure someone stays with them to make the pets calm and feel comfortable. Don’t leave the pets alone which can make the scenario worse.

Provide their favourite food and enough water for them.

Keep the firecrackers safely and light the diyas beyond the reach of pets. Do not fire the crackers in the vicinity of kennels and animal houses. Avoid crackers like atom bomb, hydrogen bomb and “thousand wala” which make loud noise.

Take your pet for a walk during the hours in which a ban has been imposed by the government to fire crackers. A well-fed dog after a long walk will feel tired and less anxious during the fireworks.

If they try to hide, allow them to do it and do not force them to come out.

Playing music will mask the crackers noise and make the pet feel better. Providing them with their favourite food will help to manage the situation. Also, keep their favourite toys nearby as they can help distract their mind from the loud noise. A collar with the pet’s ID will be helpful in finding the missing pets.

Clean the trace of chemicals from fired crackers, pooja materials and rangoli colours since they can be toxic to the pets.

Do not chain the pets outside the house as it will add to their stress and make them feel more uncomfortable by the loud noise of the crackers.

Transfer the pet birds along with their cages into the house as it will make them feel better.

Applying a thick blanket around the cage will also reduce the direct exposure to bright light and sound from the crackers.

Always keep the water filled buckets ready near the pet birds and animals to use during any untoward fire accidents.

Approach your vet, if the affected pets show anxiety symptoms for a long period.

Don’t over react, like cuddling the pets when fireworks begin. Due to this type of reaction, the pets perceive that you too are also in distress and make the situation worse.

If unfortunately, the pets meet with any fire injuries, apply cool water on the affected area with a clean cloth. Don’t break the blisters. Don’t apply any ointment or any other substances on the affected area without the consultation of the vet.

Dr R. Selvakkumar, M.V.Sc., Ph.D, is Associate Professor, Department of Livestock Production Management, Veterinary College and Research Institute, Theni- 625602, under the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai.