Diwali is around the corner. As much as you might be looking forward to burst firecrackers, if you have a pet, remember, it’s the most dreaded time for them. The deafening sound of crackers might leave your otherwise happy go lucky pet trembling with fear. Some might even get restless and start barking incessantly. There are a number of things that you can do to help your dog cope with such anxiety, and minimise their fear and discomfort.
Comfort is key
Making the little one feel comfortable is most important. “Firstly, close all windows so that limited sound enters your home. Next, let your dog be in a safe and cosy place where it can hide, and do not disturb it when he goes into this area. You can even dab cotton balls in the ears,” advises Dr Kallahalli Umesh, Waltham Scientific communication manager. “Most importantly, never punish your dog for being afraid. This will only make it aggressive,” he adds.
You could also distract him with some goodies or by turning up the volume on the TV to help mask the sounds of fireworks. If nothing works, go for mild sedatives to calm your pet. “Consult your vet and go for a light tranquiliser that will make it slightly drowsy. While lighting aroma oils in the room might also come in handy, dog appeasing pheromone sprays may also have a similar calming effect on your pet,” says veterinary physician Dr Satbir Josan.
Desensitise your pet
There are still 10 days left for Diwali. Desensitisation programs will not work overnight and also require patience to be effective. However, you can still buy CDs or tapes of fireworks sounds to get it acclimatised with the sounds. These should initially be played at a very low volume and gradually you can increase the pitch. While playing the sounds, give your dog something enjoyable such as his favourite food or simply play with him. With time your dog should stop associating the sounds with something scary and will begin to associate them with pleasant experiences such as eating. In more serious cases, 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 a treatment program tailored for your dog. Remember, drug treatment should only be used with veterinary advice. However, this is just a temporary solution and will not actually cure the problem. It is important to seek expert advice to help desensitise your dog to the sound of fireworks.Take your dog for a good walk during the day before fireworks start being let off.
By Dr Kallahalli Umesh
Care for the strays
Burst crackers in a limited and a centralised location so that stray animals, which do not have covered spaces to hide, are not disturbed. Do not ever tease stray animals by tying crackers on their tails. Never throw lighted crackers on them or fling puppies or kittens into burning crackers. They can suffer significant burns and body damage, and our fun can lead to the poor animal’s death.
If you find any stray animal in fear, always try to help it out in whatever way you can. You could comfort it by leading it to a cosy zone in your garden and put some food and water for it. If you find any animal injured or in a terrorised state you could call up animal welfare organisations such as Friendicoes at 011-24314787 or 24320303 or Wildlife SOS at 9871963535