Diwali may be the festival we look forward to all year but for pets and strays, this is the most painful time of the year. Whether it’s the loud sound of crackers or the smoke in the air, Diwali can make your normally happy pet turn timid, cower and hide under the bed all day long.
In 2012, around 60 pigeons died in Koti, Hyderabad, and many dogs suffered from burn injuries and accidents. Several pets go missing during this ‘festive’ season. They run away because they are terrified of the sights and loud sounds. In many cases, they do not come back even after Diwali is over and people stop bursting crackers. Our ‘festival’ becomes their nightmare.
More Effects of Diwali on Pets
The trauma caused to pets and stay animals during Diwali can cause permanent damage in the form of deafness, bad burns and more.
- Humans and animals have different hearing ranges. Humans can hear sound frequencies between approximately 20 and 20,000 Hz. On the other hand, dogs and cats can hear sounds up to 40,000 Hz.
This means that the same noise can sound much louder to an animal than it does to a human. This can damage the inner ear and cause deafness in one or both ears.
- Lighting crackers and fireworks when pets or strays are around can cause them to suffer from accidental burns as they are unable to gauge what would be a safe distance for them from the crackers.
- Scared pets might run away, get lost in the Diwali crowd and might not be found again. They might consider their home environment unsafe and hostile and hence lose the will to return.
- When pets or strays run away from crackers, they might be in a rush and not see where they are going. This might lead to accidents as they can run straight into the path of running cars and buses.
- The smoke from crackers can make it difficult for them to breathe properly or cause irritation to their eyes.
So, if you believe that your pets are part of your family, you need to do your part to keep them safe during this season.
Related Read: 9 Easy Tips to Avoid Air Pollution During This Diwali
Some pets are more susceptible to fear during Diwali compared to others. The level of the fear during Diwali depends upon how trained the pet is to socialize. From the time your dog is a puppy, introduce him/her to other people and make him/her hear lots of different sounds so that they do not develop a negative association with loud noises or crowds. Encourage them to play with kids especially.
Keep Pets Indoors
Most societies start bursting crackers only after sunset. Hence, make sure your dog is finished with his or her walk before that and is indoors.
- Once the firecrackers start going off, keep your pet indoors in a cool room with the curtains drawn. This can help mask the sounds and the flashes of light from the firecrackers. You can also soundproof a particular roof for this purpose.
- It is important for this room to be a space the animal is familiar with.
- Even if you have a bungalow with a fenced-in garden, do not let your pets go out of the house.
- Check on your pet from time to time to ensure that they do not get too stressed out or feel deserted.
Make Sure His/Her Collar Has a Name Tag
A wise saying goes, ‘Expect the best but prepare for the worst’. Even after you do everything in your power to keep your pets indoors, they may get out and run away. A child may open the door without realizing, or your pet may get so scared that he tears through a mesh window. If this were to happen, you should make sure the person who finds your pet knows how to get in touch with you.
Most pets that have lived a majority of their lives with humans will turn to a human for help at some point. Make sure your dog or cat wears a collar that has a name tag and your phone number on it and if possible the address as well. This way, the person who finds your pet will know what to call him and will be able to make him feel more comfortable until you arrive.
Give Them Plenty of Water
It is very important for your pets to stay hydrated during the times when they feel scared. Hence, place a bowl of cool water in the room where you keep your pet(s). You may also want to give them a snack or two while crackers are bursting outside.
When your pet feels scared, you may be tempted to pamper him or her a little more than usual. However, this is not advisable. According to pet experts, giving them extra attention when they are showing signs of fearful behaviour may reinforce the behaviour. What you should do is act normal and encourage your pet to stay calm by stroking them, making gentle sounds and hugging them. But, do not shout at or punish your pet if they get scared, as that will only make them panic. Tips to calm your pet:
- Let him/her rest on blankets and cushions to avoid the effects of vibrations from crackers
- Play a special desensitizing CD for your pet to mask cracker sounds
- Give chew toys and treats to distract
- Provide a sedative after consulting a vet if other measures don’t work
- Make your pet wear ear muffs. This can dim off loud sounds.
Store Fireworks Safely
Pets, especially dogs tend to bite and chew things around the house. But firecrackers are poisonous. Hence, if you plan on bursting firecrackers, ensure that they are kept safely at a height that your pet cannot reach. Other things to remember are:
- After Diwali, if you have any leftover crackers, ensure that these are kept out of your pet’s reach. Do not keep them under the stairs or in a passageway accessible to your pet(s).
- When you take your dog for a walk later at night or the next morning, do not let them lick or pick up any burnt-out firecrackers from the road.
- As far as possible, clean up the area around your home before you go to bed. If you have a fenced-in compound where you usually let your dog play, scan the area for stray rockets or other firecrackers that might have found their way to your garden before letting your dog out.
Have a First Aid Kit Handy
When you are playing with firecrackers it is essential to have a first-aid box at hand. Also have a bucket of water handy for fire emergencies, an antiseptic solution, and burn ointment. If you have a pet at home, ensure that the burn ointment is suitable for pets too. If by chance your pet gets injured, you must treat the wound immediately and consult a vet as soon as possible. You can e-consult vets through Medlife.
Diwali’s negative effects on animals are not restricted to pets. Many strays also get injured during this time. So, here are the things you can do:
- If you plan on bursting firecrackers, demarcate a zone for everyone in your society to burst crackers. When marking this area, make sure there are no stray animals who like to sleep around the area.
- Children often do not understand the effects of their actions and behave meanly towards strays. If you see a child chasing a stray animal with a firecracker, stop the child immediately. This is dangerous not only for the animal but for the child as well, because the animal might snap and bite in fear.
Similarly, stop anyone from teasing animals by tying firecrackers to their tail or throwing firecrackers at them.
If you see an animal cowering or behaving scared, coax them out of their hiding space and let him or her move away safely. Do not shout or scare the animal as this may make them run towards the busy traffic and meet with an accident.
Lastly, if you notice an animal is injured, bring the animal to the notice of the local authorities. Until someone can reach there, give the animal water and something to eat to help it relax. Talk in soothing tones to keep him or her calm.
If your pet is terrified of loud noises and firecrackers, it is your responsibility to make sure he or she is comfortable and secure during Diwali.
If possible, say no firecrackers yourself.
After all, Diwali is a lot more than just firecrackers and the ill effects of bursting crackers are not limited to your pet’s health – it can even harm you and your loved ones. To e-consult, a vet from the comfort of your home at any time from anywhere log onto Medlife E- Consultation Service.