Balam Poochkari: 3 Tips to Enjoy a Pet-Friendly Holi
If there’s a festival that celebrates brotherhood, peace and everything colorful in our country, it’s got to be Holi. A boisterous yet colorful celebration of the many myths, legends and deities associated with it. Holi is marked as much by religious fever and devotion as it is by loud music, traditional dances and of course the forceful scrubbing of bright gulal and abeer on friends and relatives.
It’s not uncommon, however, for people to go overboard amidst the festive high and include pets and other animals around them in their happiness. But this celebration often turns into extreme pain and discomfort for our furry friends. Deliberate or otherwise exposure of colors on animals wreak havoc on their health and well-being. Forced play or hooliganism can result into aggression, trauma and even depression in animals.
Here are 3 simple tips to ensure that your pet and stray animals around have a happy and safe Holi as well:
Color ‘em Not!
Your pets are best away from colors, wet or dry. Most commercial colors available in the market today (even the herbal ones) have quantities of Zinc, Lead, Chromium, Cadmium, Nickel, Copper, Mercury, Iron, Silica and Asbestos in the form of Sulphates, Sulphites, Bromides and Oxides. These compounds are known to cause allergies, asthma, irritations, dermatitis, organ failure and cancers.
If you’ve ever accidentally licked the Holi colors, you know how disgusting they taste. You also have probably experienced skin rashes, irritations, allergies yourself. The smell of the colors or ever accidentally inhaling some has also given you the swoon. Now imagine all this with your dog. He’s obviously sure to lick the colors off, his skin and coat is extra sensitive to these chemicals and they can smell the odors and inhale the colors more likely than we do.
Symptoms like loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, sneezing, coughing, discharge from nostrils, excessive thirst are all indications of Holi poisoning. These colors can cause burning and itching sensation, reddening and blindness if they come in contact with your dog’s eyes. They can also result in a range of skin issues including shedding, rashes, patches, cuts, abrasions and sores. Puppies, senior dogs and short hair coat dogs are more likely to falling victim to these colors than long hair coat breeds, because sparsely coated regions of body are commonly affected by these colors. If inhaled, these chemicals can cause nasal irritation and possibly respiratory allergies or infections. Breeds with shorter snout are at a particularly higher risk.
Store the colors in a safe place in the house out of your dog’s reach, especially if your dog is an inquisitive one. Don’t engage your dog in color play. Remember, what may be ‘safe and herbal’ for you may still not be safe for your dogs. If absolutely necessary, use turmeric, kumkum, neem or henna powder, or beetroot juice as pet-friendly colors to play Holi with your furry friends.
Wet ‘em Not!
Keep your pet away from water and moisture in general. Holi occurs during a difficult season. The weather is getting warmer during the days and the temperature is ideal to promote microbial growth. Even a small amount of moisture on your dog’s coat can result in a bacterial or fungal infection. If the dog is wet for too long and is exposed to colder evening or morning breeze, he can catch cold, fever or even pneumonia.
Water balloons thrown by kids are a particular menace to dogs. Not only they get wet, the balloons can also hurt the dog sometimes. It’s best to keep the pets indoor and dry during Holi.
Treat ‘em Not!
What’s a festival without delicious food and sweets?! The traditional gujiya is the heart and soul of the festival of Holi. But go easy while feasting your dog to them. Sugar, artificial sweeteners, chocolates, raisins and nuts are some common ingredients of Indian sweets – most of which are toxic for dogs. Read my previous blog on why your dog should never eat from your plate for more.
Few things to remember
If you have kids at home or in the neighborhood, educate them not to play Holi with the pets and strays around. Stop anyone from abusing or mistreating an animal or throwing colors or water on them.
If your pet or any other animal has been colored, please dust it off if it’s dry or wash it off using running water in case of wet colors. Please refrain from using kerosene, turpentine or alcohol to remove colors from your pets. These solutions will rather hurt them in the process. If needed, a nice bath with gentle shampoo should be enough to clean the colors off your pets. If you see any rashes or reactions on the skin, apply coconut oil on the affected areas. Consult a vet if the problem persists.
If the colors have entered the eyes or nose of the animals, wash them off with running water and allow the furry to rest. If irritation persists, seek medical help immediately.
If your pet has licked or otherwise accidentally ingested the colors, try inducing a vomit to get the toxins out of the body. Ensure that your pet has ample water to drink and watch out for any signs of poisoning. Rush to an emergency vet immediately if your furry baby shows signs of hyperactivity, palpitation, seizures or stroke.
Take your pets out for walks early in the morning before the festivities begin and keep them indoors, safe and dry during the celebrations.
Stay vigilant, and if you see an animal in need, please show compassion and extend a hand.
From all of us at DawgieBowl, we wish you a happy, colorful and fun-filled Holi.
Animal Helpline Numbers (Delhi-NCR)
Friendicoes: 011 24320707/ 011 24320303/ 011 24314787
PAWS (Masoodpur, Vasant Kunj, South Delhi): 98100 36254; 011 2689 5737
Animal India Trust (Lajpat Nagar, South Delhi): 93138 84347, 98112 52592; 011-5566 9924
Sonadi Charitable Trust (Najafgarh): 011- 26275216, 92121 31218
Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, Raja Garden: 011 2544 8062
People for Animals – PFA Delhi Headquarters, Delhi: 011-2335 5883, 2335 7088, 2335 9241
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