Balam Poochkari: Tips to Enjoy a Pet-Friendly Holi with your Dog or Cat
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 accidental, exposure to colors wreak havoc on the animals’ health and well-being. Forced play or hooliganism can result into aggression, trauma and even depression in pets & strays.
Here are some simple tips to ensure that your pet and the stray animals around have a happy and safe Holi as well:
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 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 toxic 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 dogs with short coat are more likely to falling victim to these colors, 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.
ALSO READ: The Ultimate Guide to Skin Problems in Dogs
Store the colors in a safe place in the house, out of your dog’s reach, especially if your dog is a curious 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.
Keep water and moisture away from your pet’s skin & coat. 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 just the color or water, sometimes the balloons can also hurt the dog. It’s best to keep the pets indoor and dry during Holi.
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. Keep your pets clear of sugar-free desserts. Xylitol, a common sugar-substitute can be fatal for your dog.
ALSO READ: Human Foods that are Toxic for Pets
Important Things to Remember during Holi
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 off the dry colors or wash them off using running water. 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. Should 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. Seek medical help immediately if irritation persists.
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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