Diwali 2022: How to take care of your dog’s mental health

Diwali can affect your dog’s mental health for a variety of reasons. Your furry friend, who is used to being with certain people or in a certain environment, may become anxious during festivals due to noisy and crowded gatherings. As Diwali approaches, the sound of crackers could trigger intense anxiety even in dogs, whose ears are more sensitive than humans. Exposure to the Diwali pollution can also cause breathing problems in dogs, while loud noises can also affect your pooch’s ears. They may not know that fireworks can cause them injury and can end up being hurt if pet parents aren’t vigilant. Besides, the holiday season can also make your pets feel lonely despite being surrounded by so many people as they only want the attention of their favorite person (i.e. you), which can be difficult in a holiday atmosphere. (Also read: Pet Grooming: What Makes a Dog Really Happy; Pet Expert Shares)

“The Festival of Lights is a time of rejoicing and happiness, but now pet owners across India are trying to match their beloved pooch. During Diwali, the sudden loud noises and flashes of lightning cause great fear in most of the animals. On top of that, the extremely poor air quality is also leading to an increase in respiratory problems,” says Dr. Shantanu Kalambi, Supertails chief veterinarian.

dr Kalambi says dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans, meaning any nuclear bomb that makes you flinch is magnified much more for them.

“The constant exposure to loud noises is not only annoying, but can even lead to hearing problems in your furry friends,” says the expert.

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Even walking on the street can be triggering for dogs, whose territory is invaded by many more people setting off fireworks on almost every street. Curious dogs that might love sticking their noses in everything could get hurt by crackers.

Another concern for pet parents on any Diwali is the risk of losing their four-legged baby. Panicked and anxious dogs can escape on walks or even run away from home if necessary precautions are not taken.

dr Kalambi suggests tips on how to take care of your dog’s mental and physical health during Diwali.

1. Medication

One of the most common ways to help dogs that are extremely stressed during the Diwali season is through the use of anti-anxiety (anxiety-relieving) prescription medications. If you know your dog has an adverse reaction to fireworks, contact your veterinarian ahead of time to discuss the best medications to use this season.

2. Make them comfortable

Another common practice is to modify your environment, which means adjusting your dog’s environment to provide maximum safety and comfort. This includes providing your dog with a safe place to retreat to when overwhelmed by stimuli. Make sure this spot is easily accessible at all times and that simple observation can determine where your dog often retreats to when stressed. Make this place cozier by adding their favorite toys, soft linens, warm blankets, and a water and food bowl.

3. Keep them safe

Muffle loud noises by keeping the windows closed and block out sudden flashes of light by closing the curtains. Always ensure your pet is securely secured and not allowed outside access to limit the chance of them getting lost. Swaddle cloths for puppies and small breeds, tranquilizer wraps or pressure vests for larger dogs can be used to calm them down. Like a warm hug, these wraps have been shown to release endorphins to keep you calm and soothed.

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4. Keep them busy

Chews or bones for your dog to gnaw on when he’s anxious could distract him. Frequent play could also distract them from the loud noises and tire them out faster so they sleep better.

You can also feed them at times of more active firework explosions. But if they refuse to eat, offer food at quieter times instead. Trying to stick to your usual routine can calm certain dogs down, especially if you have a lot of guests visiting or staying overnight. Try to limit interactions with strangers, as nervous dogs are more likely to react aggressively out of fear.

5. Try herbal and Ayurvedic remedies

Beyond medication, soothing nutraceuticals like organic balms enriched with coconut, almonds, and argan can put your dog in a mellow mood. Sometimes pheromones like melatonin have been found to be effective. The benefits of herbal and Ayurvedic products are well documented and are generally safer for long-term use. Bach flowers and essential oils like hemp seed oil and lavender oil work great to calm your pet’s anxiety.

6. Behavior change

By far the most popular method, behavior modification, is the method used to teach a dog to overcome its fears. This includes counterconditioning, where dogs are rewarded with treats after being exposed to loud noises. Noise exposure training is another technique aimed at desensitizing dogs by gradually exposing them to loud noises.

7. Keep them close

While it’s somewhat controversial, some pet parents are simply supportive of their dogs by holding them close, petting them, and talking to them calmly. Although this is a technique used worldwide, care must be taken to prevent fur babies from developing separation anxiety. One should follow these ways to enjoy Diwali happily and better with their cute dogs this time. Pet owners are always advised to consult a veterinarian immediately in severe conditions or when situations get out of control.

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