Sensory overload aside, Deepavali also sees multiple cases of stray animals and birds getting involved and injured in accidents.

How pets are affected during Deepavali and what you can do to helpImage for representation/ Photo by Lukas Cuba, Wikimedia Commons
Features Pets Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 17:54

“Deepavali is a stressful and busy time for Bailey: stressful because of the sensory overload of light and sound around him and busy because for those 3-4 days, it’s his life’s mission to be louder than all the crackers,” says Pallavi Dewan as she talks about her five-year-old dog’s behavior during the festival of lights.

There is plenty to like about Deepavali: the beautiful, twinkling lights, the sweets, new clothes and for some, the fireworks. And while they do light up the sky, they cause more trouble to your furry friends than you imagine. Sensory overload aside, Deepavali also sees multiple cases of stray animals and birds getting involved and injured in accidents.

Dr Pawan Kumar, who works with Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, says that they always receive multiple calls from people about anxious and inconsolable pets as well as injured animals. Some, like Bailey and Chennai-based *Anoopa’s three-year-old dog, Harley, tend to bark continuously when they are distressed. “Harley is usually used to the drums and sirens on the streets. But during Diwali, when he won’t stop barking, we usually try to reassure him that everything is okay,” she says.

However, there are pets who get so stressed out that refuse to come out of hiding and refuse to eat and drink during Deepavali. Bengaluru-based *Sakshi’s three-year-old dog usually does not skip meals but sometimes vomits due to the fumes outside. “I usually take Soxie for the walk after they are done bursting crackers but the residual pollution leaves him feeling nauseous. Sometimes, he won’t eat at all,” Sakshi says.

And it’s not just dogs who are affected. Mumbai-based Sonika Ganguly’s three-year-old rabbit, Fluffy, is constantly looking for places to hide during Deepavali. “Her pupils noticeably dilate and her diet reduces. She keeps hiding under the blanket,” Sonika says. She usually tries to keep Fluffy calm by letting her sit in her lap and sleeping with her in the bed.

Dr Pawan says that this sort of stress can have two kinds of effects on animals: acute and chronic. The acute effects are akin to those mentioned above but it’s the chronic effects which take up to 10 days to wear off, and may prove to be more dangerous. “If the animal is already suffering from a disease, the stress during Deepavali may actually aggravate its condition. Flat-nosed dog breeds like Pugs, Boxers and Pitbulls especially, may face respiratory issues because their lung capacity is lower,” he warns.

So, what must you do to keep your pets safe and calm this Deepavali? Dr Pawan has the following suggestions:

1. Make arrangements for pets to feel calm, like you would for children and the elderly. Keep the doors and windows closed to minimize the noise and try keeping them in a room where there is less noise, if possible.

2. Many people choose to go for a holiday during Deepavali, to quieter places with their pets. The trend seems to be catching up in Bengaluru as well, according to Vandana Kamath’s report in TOI.

3. You can also ask your vet for relaxing and destressing medication for your pets, if they tend to get too anxious. But Dr Pawan insists that pet parents do not give their pets drugs without prior consultation.

4. Make sure to feed your pets before the light and sound gets too much. This is because they may not eat out of anxiety once people start bursting crackers and as a result, may suffer from hunger and dehydration.

5. Smaller animals like cats and rabbits may prefer to hide during this time. Pet parents should let them be, as long as it is safe for them and be around them so that they feel secure.


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