Over the past two years, there has been a significant rise in people adopting pets. For many, this may be their first time experiencing the festival of Holi and all the sounds, smells and colors it has to offer. And even though you may want your pets to partake in this festival of colours, you must show restrain, as it can be harmful to them.
Urvashi Mishra from Rajasthan is celebrating her dog Arrow’s first Holi and even though she wants him to be part of the celebrations, she will keep him away.
She says, “I’ll keep my dog inside, away from the chaos and colors. I am going to make sure he’s comfortable in a room with his favorite toys to chew on.”
Jaipur’s Preet Beaspal doesn’t feel right if his family dog, Joey, is not part of the celebrations. “We will use organic colors and ensure nothing is thrown at him. Since we will all be indulging in delicious and decadent food, we don’t want him to miss out either, so we have got him some of his favorite dog foods and lots of treats, but he doesn’t know that as yet.”
Delhi-based Nandini Yadav has two dogs — Molly and Mr Miyagai and two cats — Master Shifu and Keiko. She and her family have spent many holis and festivals with them and she says, “As much as you’d want to include your pets in the celebration, keep them away from sweets and gulaal. And in my experience, if you have a sniffy, nosy pet, just for the time the streets are full of color, muzzle their snout.”
Here’s how you can keep your pets safe:
1.If your dog is scared of loud noises or crowds, it is best to take him out on a walk early morning or late at night. Ensure that they do not lick water color or anything else from the ground during their walk.
2.For highly fearful dogs, close your windows and curtains and put the tv on to muffle the outdoor noises. When scared, most pets will seek out a hiding spot. Do not force your pet to come out of hiding or coddle them too much. Give them space to relax and settle down on their own.
3.If you have guests visiting and your dog is not comfortable with strangers, especially with kids, do not force any interactions. Give your dog some space to retreat to, in case they are uncomfortable.
4.If your dog is not super fearful or anxious, you can redirect their attention and give them enrichment toys such as a snuffle mat, licky mat or a kong to engage with. Chewing is a relaxing, stress-releasing activity for dogs that also releases endorphins. You can give your dog yak milk chews, frozen carrots or slices of deseeded apple to chew on.
5.Do not use or allow anyone to use colors or spray your dog with water color or balloons. The color can cause skin allergies and infections, and if ingested, can be toxic to our pets. Cats, especially are more likely to lick any foreign substance from their body. If you get colors on your pets, ensure that you use only dog or cat friendly shampoos to wash it off. If your pet ingests color, please take them to your nearest vet.
6.Do NOT give your pets sweets, or any other human food, for that matter. Bhang especially can be extremely toxic to our pets. You can give them species appropriate treats so they can enjoy Holi as much as you.
7. Usually, it is our stray dogs that are ill affected by Holi the most. You can help out by ensuring that your society takes proper precautions to prevent your community dogs from being sprayed with color or paint.
Inputs by Shivani Kuthe, Certified Canine Trainer