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Festivals, crackers and pet care

Posted on Oct 30, 07:03PM | IBNS

Even the most confident dogs can be scared of fireworks.With Diwali around the corner, IBNS shares some tips on how to take care of yor pet this festive season.

Yes, your happy go lucky pet could be trembling shaking and barking more during the coming Diwali celebrations at your home.

The sad part is that sometimes we don't even care to give a thought to their suffering. However, 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.

All these and more are the signs that clearly communicate that your dog could well be scared during the fireworks. 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 owners to ensure they do everything they can to make their dog feel safe and secure when fireworks are being let off

However, with Diwali just round the corner there is hardly any time to help solve problems related to fear of fireworks as treatment programmes require lots of time and patience and may take many months to effectively complete.

There are a number of things you can do to help your dog cope with fireworks going off and minimise how scary the situation may be to him

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 being let off

Keep your dog inside when fireworks are going off. Never walk him or leave him outside when fireworks are going off

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 behavior as this may actually reinforce the behavior. 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 freighting your pet even more. In an attempt to leave the situation the pet will become aggressive

Once you get past Diwali it is a good idea to start thinking about desensitizing your dog to fireworks so that he can cope better the next time

Desensitization programs will not just work overnight and require lots of time and patience to be effective

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

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 you vet who can then give you an individual treatment program 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

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 desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks

Do's and Don'ts for stray animals during Diwali

Do not tease them by tying crackers in their tails. Our fun can lead to the poor animal's death

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

Do not terrorise them, induced with fear they may run into the traffic and get injured

Bring to the notice of local / concern authorities in case you find a injured animal in your locality or on road

Help any animals on the road into your garden or garage and put food and water for them

Volunteer with a shelter homes for stray animals and help them for any emergencies

Burst crackers in a limited and a centralized location so that animals can be restricted or kept away from the place during the fireworks