As pet parents, we want our pooches to be a part of our celebrations. But, Diwali is one festival that our dogs dread. Every Diwali, there are numerous cases of dogs either hurt or burnt. Let’s make Diwali safe for our pooches.
–by Varsha Verma
Diwali is a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness. It is a pleasure to see beautiful lighting adorning the buildings and houses within. The environment is euphoric – various delicacies, lovely clothes, exchange of gifts and sweets- and of course everything done to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to our homes. We all look forward to this occasion. One thing that spoils the festival is noisy crackers. They are not just a nuisance to us but more for our canine friends, who have an acute sense of hearing.
How crackers affect our furry friends?
Animals are terrified of fireworks. They become stressed on hearing loud noises. They tremble, drool, bark, howl and try to hide or get out of the house. They refuse to eat and may even lose bladder or bowel control. Sometimes, while trying to escape from home, they may accidentally get hurt as well. Incidents of dog abuse are still prevalent; just out of mere fun, some children and sadists tie crackers to the strays. This burns them severely and results in various behavioural issues in these poor animals.
How to make Diwali safe for dogs?
Create awareness: Prevention is always better than cure. Ask your neighbours and friends not to use loud crackers as they are harmful to both humans and dogs.
Desensitise the dog: Start preparing your dog for Diwali. Expose him to low levels of noise and then gradually increase the intensity. Make sure not to expose him to very high levels, as this may harm his hearing ability.
Exercise him before crackers time: Take your dog out for his daily exercise an hour before the fireworks, so that he is tired and less anxious.
Feed him early: A hungry dog will be more anxious. So, feed him well before the fireworks start.
Do not take him out when crackers are on: Keep your dog inside the home, with the doors and windows properly closed so that he cannot run out. Leave a TV or radio on.
Make him comfortable: Give him things he like – treats, toys, his bed, etc.
Do not disturb him: If your pooch hides under the bed or any of his hiding places, let him be there.
Do not cajole him: Do not soothe or comfort your dog, it will only increase the problem. Be in control and be cheerful.
Consult your vet: If you have a senior dog or a nervous dog, talk to your vet before Diwali, who can recommend a light sedative for him.
Put a name tag on his collar: Do not forget to put a name tag on his collar, so that in case he runs out, you can still find him.
Give shelter to strays: If possible, give shelter to strays in your neighbourhood, who would also be very stressed due to loud noises. Give them food and water and in case you see any of them injured, call for an ambulance.
Last but not the least: Be with your pet. Your presence is a great assurance that they are safe.
Did you know?
In Nepal, Diwali is also celebrated with great fervour. But, what makes this festival unique is the fact that the second day of this festivity is celebrated as Karuk Thira, the worship of dogs. It is believed that dogs guard the gates of heaven. So, as a special recognition, all dogs are honoured this day, be it pet dogs or strays. People apply tika on their forehead and drape garlands of fresh flowers around their neck. Then, they are treated to excellent food. It actually a dog’s day!!!