Celebrating the Festive Season in India with your Pet Dog: Joys and Challenges

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a joyous and vibrant celebration in India. As this festival approaches, the number of consults I get around anxiety in pets increases. And that’s the case every year. 

Should I medicate my dog? Do we just take him on a vacation? Is it okay for my dog to eat sweets? How should I make my pet comfortable to be around other people? These are some questions that I deal with during this season which is usually loved by all Indians. 

While Diwali does fill homes with warmth and festivity, it's important to remember that the loud fireworks and firecrackers can be distressing for our canines. Many dogs experience anxiety and fear during this time. My own dog has a tendency to become anxious. She hides under the tables, refuses to go out for walks and is also sceptical about interacting with other people. 

As a veterinarian and a pet parent, I realised that taking precautions such as creating a calm, safe space for them, providing soothing music, and keeping them away from the noise can help ensure a peaceful Diwali. However, it is also important to understand that festive season is not just about controlling anxiety. You need to be vary of your pets’ diets, routines, safety and behavioural tendencies. 

In this article, my aim is to provide you with all the relevant information you might need to take care of your canine during festivals. And I also want you to know that festivals can become as joyous for your pets as they are for you if you’re aware of everything your pet might need. 

Before I jump into the cons of the festive season, let’s look at some of the positives.

1. Quality Time Together:

Festivals often mean holiday season; automatically leading to extra time with family and friends and your beloved canines. The additional company can lead to an abundance of affection and playtime. It helps them look at a different, carefree side of you and they like it as much as you do.

My dog usually doesn’t like it when people touch her but she wants be around where the family is. So she will sit in the hall with all of us on her designated spot. We instruct people to not touch her, and if she feels comfortable, she will go and greet/ smell people on her own.

You can figure out what your dog prefers and act accordingly. If your dog is friendly, well and good. If not, you can keep them in a separate room but make sure to check up on them.

2. Tasty Treats:

The festive season is synonymous with scrumptious dishes. While you enjoy your favorite sweets and delicacies, don't forget to treat your dog to dog-friendly delights. Homemade, pet-safe treats can make your pup feel extra special. While you’re reading this, don’t forget to check out Fidele + fresh food for your pupsters!

But don’t over-do treats because an excessive calorie intake can increase their weight or cause an upset stomach. Keep the limits in check for yourself and your pets.

3. Dressing Up:

If you love dressing up for special occasions, why not extend the same courtesy to your dog? Many pet owners find joy in adorning their dogs with festive attire, like a cute bandana or a collar with holiday-themed accessories. 

But this would also depend on whether your dog likes it or not. Misty, my dog, hates being put in t-shirts so the only thing I do for her is - fancy collars. If your dog doesn’t like accessories, don’t force them. 

4. Outdoor Adventures:

During the festive season, parks and open spaces often become bustling with activity. So, it may not be an ideal time to take your dogs out. However, you can think about planning a vacation to getaways where you and your dogs can enjoy some adventure together. This is a personal option. You may or may not prefer to do so.

The Challenging Side:

1. Noise and Anxiety:

One of the biggest challenges during festivals is the increase in noise pollution. Firecrackers, loud music, and noisy gatherings can cause anxiety in dogs. To alleviate their stress, create a safe and quiet space at home, use calming music, and consider anxiety wraps or vests.

You can try engaging them in different activities to distract them from the noise. Consider giving them a chew toy, playing with them, etc.

2. Change in Routine:

Festivals often disrupt the regular schedule of your dog. Changes in meal times, walks, and sleep patterns can lead to confusion and stress. Try to maintain some consistency, especially in essential routines, to help your dog feel secure.

How you can do this? Well, don’t let guests or vacations alter these routines for them. Make time for them for their regular activities at their regular times. If you can’t do that, consider hiring help for them for the period of festivities. Lots of facilities are available these days like dog walkers, dog boarding centres, pet sitters, etc. These facilities make our lives easier.

3. Dietary Dangers:

Festive foods can be tempting, but many are harmful to dogs. Chocolate, sweets, and rich, fatty dishes can be toxic. Ensure your dog doesn't have access to these treats and inform guests about not feeding your dog from the table. Be firm and don’t give into puppy eyes.

4. Hidden Hazards:

Decorations, candles, and electrical wires can pose hazards to curious dogs. Keep a watchful eye to prevent them from getting into mischief or inadvertently harming themselves.

Be careful when you go out for walks. Make sure they’re on a leash as loud sounds may scare them and they might try and run. Don’t take them to areas where people are bursting crackers. They are a hazard for both you and your pets. 

Last but not the least, let me summarise this article for you to have absolutely fun-filled festive season:

1. Exercise and Enrichment:

Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help reduce anxiety. Try puzzle toys and engaging activities to keep your dog occupied.

2. Safe Space:

Create a quiet, safe space at home where your dog can retreat when festivities become overwhelming.

3. Pet-Proof Decor:

Choose pet-friendly decorations and ensure hazardous items are out of reach. Earthen lamps or Diyas that can be kept at heights are a green choice! Good for the environment and your pets. 

Also, keep choking hazards like string decor out of their reach. They might feel like playing with those and end up choking on them.

4. Training and Desensitization:

Prepare your dog for festive noise by gradually exposing them to it and providing positive reinforcement.

5. Consult Your Vet:

If your dog is particularly anxious during festivals, consult your veterinarian for advice and possible anxiety management solutions. Also, consult them well in advance as the treatments they offer may need to be started much prior to the beginning of festive season.

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