This is the time when the most number of pets go missing. Some suggestions for their safety:

Don’t let them out of sight – leaving both cats and dogs unattended during the festive season is risky. Do not tie your dog at the gate or anywhere where he can snap the leash and run off as this is the first instinct they have when crackers go off. If you have a cat that goes outdoors, consider keeping him fully indoors. You can give him commercial cat food and put out a litter box.

Beware of poisonous substances – do not allow pets any access to stored fireworks. If the common area is used by neighbours to burst crackers, ensure that it is swept up completely before taking your cat/dog to these areas.

Never burst crackers in front of pets – a pet’s hearing is several times more sensitive than that of a human’s. Avoid bursting crackers anywhere near them. In addition to being traumatic, this also puts them at a risk of serious injury or death.

Get an ID tag – put an engraved metal ID tag with your dog’s name and your phone number on your dog’s collar and leave it on permanently.

Keep him on leash during walks – never walk your dog without a leash. This is a dangerous practice on any day, and more so during Deepavali as dogs on walks run away on hearing loud sounds.

Calm them down–allow pets to remain in closed rooms until the noise subsides (the TV could be left on in a low volume in this room). Family members could take turns keeping them company. If they hide under beds or elsewhere, let them be. Do not pull them out or fuss over them as this might make them more anxious.

Petition for a noise-free festival – circulate a request to clubs, apartment complexes or associations, to go cracker-free from this year onwards. This prevents birds and homeless animals from getting injured, and protects pets, babies and senior citizens who find the noise and smoke pollution difficult to bear.