Pet care during festive season

-Even the most confident dogs can be scared of fireworks!

Yes, your happy go lucky pet could be trembling, shaking and barking more during the coming celebrations at your home. It is important to understand that dogs and cats have stronger hearing power. So what we perceive to be loud is even louder and unbearable for the pets. In addition, dogs are also sensitive to vibrations caused by loud noises. Therefore, one needs to take extra care of pets during Diwali season.

Signs of stress or fear may include shaking, trembling, barking, howling, excessive drooling or hiding when fireworks are
being let off.

The best way to prevent problems
Make sure that your dog is well socialised as a puppy, allowing him to hear lots of different sounds and have lots of different experiences, always in a positive way. This will help to prevent the problem in the first place. However, some dogs will still develop fears of fireworks and so it is up to their pet parents to ensure they do everything they can to make their dog feel safe and secure when fireworks are being let off.
According to Dr Kallahalli Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, South Asia, Mars India, “Diwali is a crucial time when our pets get a bit confused with the sound and light changes happening in the surroundings. As we make our kids understand the new activities around them, same goes with our pets also. We need to help our pets to be comfortable with these changes and get rid of their fear.”

Few tips to help your dog cope with fireworks

  • Take your dog for a good walk during the day before fireworks start.
  • Keep your dog inside when fireworks are going on. Never walk him or leave him outside at that time.
  • Keep windows shut and curtains drawn to mask sounds and flashes from fireworks.
  • Turn up the volume on the television or radio to help mask the sounds of fireworks.
  • Keep your dog distracted by playing with him or giving treats like Pedigree or Dentastix.
  • Do not comfort your dog if he is showing fearful behaviour as this may actually reinforce the behaviour. Act normally, as if there is nothing at all to be afraid of and reward your dog when he is calm and not looking afraid.
  • Never punish your dog in any way for being afraid.
  • Provide your dog with a suitable safe place where he can hide and do not disturb him when he goes into this area.
  • If your pet is extremely sensitive to noise then slowly accustom him to have cotton in the ears.
  • Prefer using natural therapy to calm your dog. Bach flower extracts and lavender oil are helpful in milder cases.
  • Some people force their pets to be close to the sounds that are frightening. Don’t do that you will only end up frightening your pet even more.
  • It may help in more serious cases to seek expert advice to help deal with these problems. The best way to find help is to ask your vet who can then give you an individual treatment programme tailored to you and your dog.
  • In extreme cases, your vet may suggest prescribing drug treatment to help your dog cope with his fear of fireworks.

Desensitisation programme…
Once you get past Diwali, it is a good idea to start thinking about desensitising your dog to fireworks so that he can cope better the next time. You can buy CDs or tapes of fireworks sounds to help with this. These should initially be played at a very low volume so you can barely hear them. While playing the sounds, give your dog something enjoyable such as his Pedigree food, a treat or simply play with him. Repeat this for short periods several times per day. As long as your dog shows no negative reactions, you can very gradually increase the volume over progressive sessions. With time, your dog should stop associating the sounds with something scary and will begin to associate them with pleasant experiences such as eating.

Dos and Don’ts for stray animals during Diwali

  • Do not let children tease them by tying crackers in their tails.
  • Do not throw lighted crackers on them. Also do not flung puppies or kittens into burning crackers. They can suffer significant burns and body damage.
  • Bring to the notice of local/concerned authorities in case you find an injured animal in your locality or on road.
  • Help any animals on the road into your garden or garage and give food and water to them.
  • Burst crackers in a limited and a centralised location so that animals can be restricted or kept away from the place during the fireworks.