Celebrating festivals safely with your dog
I have always been a die-hard fan of festivals. They add colours to our otherwise grey and drab lives. My countdown actually begins days before the actual festival, and my shopping list comes out with ferocious intensity, as I tick off items like crackers, sweets, candles, cakes, decoration items etc. I always presumed that my dog, who was always with me with his four trotting feet, was having as much fun as I was, until I figured otherwise. It took me some years to realize that come festival time, my dog would become a hyper-active, out of control and snappy creature who was forever barking and whining. When I realized that the poor thing was trying to tell me in his own way what a tough time he was having with all the noise, frenzied activities and guests etc, that I sympathized and decided to make sure that he is safe and secure during what was ‘fun-time’ for me, but apparently one of his ‘rough days.’ We need to keep a few things in mind vis-à-vis our pets:
For dogs, the sound of crackers is most unnerving, since they have a more sensitive sense of hearing than humans. As a result, they react to the sound of crackers with utter confusion and panic. Believe it or not, most dogs are so badly affected that they go in a state of daze and sometimes even get close to a nervous breakdown. Of late, many voluntary and non-profit organizations like People for Animals (PFA) are working to create awareness about the effect of crackers on pets. However, with certain care, one can see the pets through these nerve-shattering days. These tips are:
- Make sure your dog is safe inside, when the crackers are being burst outside.
- Don’t scold your dog for being scared.
- Keep checking on your pet to see that he is doing fine and keep giving him water to ease him up.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended at all, since he will get more panicky if alone.
- Make sure there is no way he can run out of the house, since dogs have the tendency to react to fear by running away.
- And most of all, keep hugging him and patting him to let him know that you are there with him. That will immediately put him at ease.
Losing a dog
It’s sad but true. Many people have lost their dogs during festivals. There are so many activities, and so many visitors in and out of the house, that often because of small carelessness, the dogs manage their way out. These are shattering experiences not just for the dog, but for their owners too. This is why, it is imperative to ensure that your dog is secure. For precaution, make sure there’s an identifying tag on your dog’s collar, so that God forbid, if he manages to run out, there are more chances of his being found.
Much as we like to indulge in decorating our house on festivals, one needs to be responsible if you have a dog in the house. They are usually very curious and want a taste of everything. One needs to be careful about all the candles, lights, ornaments which the pets invariably want to chew on—all these have to be made out of reach for your four-legged family members. Some pets even step on to the rangolis and later lick the chemicals off their paw, making them sick. Most vets have had to deal with emergency cases around this time when pets are reported sick and serious by either chewing on candles, adhesives, bulbs, cords, decorations and sometimes even jumping on the strings of lights hanging. Care needs to be taken so that your pet is safe from burns and electric shocks, caused by wires, candles, diya’s and miscellaneous decorations. All these mishaps can be prevented by a little care and utmost strictness about keeping you dog away—and safe.
One of the highlights of the festival is the array of guests visiting the house. While socializing is fun for us, it can be rather disconcerting for our pets. The constant doorbells, opening and shutting of doors, loud noises emanating from the drawing room, disrupted schedules, the incessant eateries being placed on the table—are all exciting and taxing for them. At such times, make sure your pet is safe and comfortable with the toys he loves the most. Keep him away from the noise and the activities, and make sure to check on him often, with regular doses of patting and cuddling, so that they don’t feel neglected and deserted.
What is a festival without delicious food that includes sweets, chocolates and various other food items that are a treat to our palate? Unfortunately, it is not the same for our dogs. While most pet owners like to feed their pets with tasty food items on festivals, it might not be very good for him. Fatty or spicy food might lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people share their joy by sharing their favourite chocolates with their pets, little knowing that theobomine, a chemical used in chocolates, is dangerous for pets. If these few things are kept in mind, while planning and celebrating your favourite festivals, there is no way your dog will not be a part of it — but without the hazards that go with it. Remember, it is not the dangerous indulgences in food, the terror of crackers, the pain of gulping decorations that will make him remember those days, but your love, care and concern that will make these festivals enjoyable—and memorable for both of you. When you see him hale and hearty, jumping with joy at the sight of you, totally oblivious to the chaos outside—that will bring a million dollar smile on your face that even the most expensive cracker string won’t be able to.