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Bursting of firecrackers drives pets crazy

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SCARED: During Deepavali, pets hide from the sound. Photo: K. Gopinathan
SCARED: During Deepavali, pets hide from the sound. Photo: K. Gopinathan

Swathi Shivanand

Dogs get agitated and sometimes even run away: veterinarian

Bangalore: Do you close your ears at the noise of firecrackers? Imagine that sound amplified several times over. You could go crazy. And that's what happens to animals, especially dogs during Deepavali.

"I have three Labradors. Two years ago, we had gone out during Deepavali and left the dogs inside the house thinking they would feel safe there. But when we returned, we saw that the dogs had pulled down the curtains and the rods," says a dog owner. He now sedates his dogs during Deepavali.

"It is like they are under attack in a war," says Alpana Bhartia, founder-president of the People for Animals (PFA), Bangalore.

Most dogs hide under the bed, do not eat food and take days before they calm down, she says.

"The middle ear of dogs is very sensitive. As such, sounds get magnified a thousand times over. They get agitated and become paranoid and sometimes even run away if the gates are open. They get lost and cannot find their way back," says Gambetta Dacosta, a veterinarian.

Precautions

Dr. Dacosta suggests that dog owners could mask the sounds of the firecrackers by plugging the ears of the dogs, sedating them and increasing volume of television.

Otherwise a common sight, street dogs are rarely seen during Deepavali. Most of them hide in gutters because they cannot bear the sound. Animal activists say that veterinary hospitals get several cases of street dogs badly injured during Deepavali because some people tie firecrackers to their tails and light them.

These dogs undergo a severe shock because they simply cannot stand the sound, they say.

Other animals

Though not as affected by crackers as dogs are, cats too can get agitated. "I have a cat that has not been eating anything since Friday. It keeps going out to listen to the sounds and comes back inside the house agitated," says a cat owner. Ms. Bhartia says that PFA receives a lot of calls about injured animals such as birds and squirrels. Instances of rockets hitting their nests are common, she says. Owls are also upset at the abnormal amount of light during Deepavali, she says.

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