What animals go through after Deepvali

Animal trauma does not end with Deepavali; their sufferings are often invisible and prolonged. Here is what to watch out for and how to help

The string lights have been taken down, the earthen lamps are back in their cupboards, and crackers have stopped disrupting quiet nights (for the most part). Deepavali is over, but some signs of it still linger — like the happy memories you built over ghee-laden sweets and card games. Or more importantly, the invisible damage most stray and pet animals in your neighbourhood are still suffering.

Obvious injuries, burns and scars are visible and treatable. On the other hand, if the playful puppers on your street seem to be scampering about a bit less and crouching in corners a bit more this week, they are probably still under trauma caused by explosions too loud for us humans to even hear. As Dr Priyadarshini Govind, a city-based veterinary doctor, explains, “Often, because they [animals]are able to hear frequencies higher and lower than the average human, they are more sensitive to the various degrees of sounds that happen during these festivities.” She gives the example of infrasonic whistles used to train dogs to make her point, and adds, “The trauma in these cases is mostly mental and emotional because of their inability to perceive the reason for the noises around them.”

There are some behavioural changes you can watch out for to see if the animals around you are okay. “Reclusiveness, loss of appetite, extreme fear and in some cases even episodes of seizures,” lists Dr Govind. Veterinarian Dr Lakshmikripa elaborates, “Behavioural changes can also include an increase in aggressiveness. This causes more problems, because when a dog suddenly turns aggressive, people usually assume it to be because of rabies or another disease, and instead of helping the animal they either put it down or drive it out.” Exposure to smoke can also cause “continued breathlessness,” she says: if a dog is panting for a prolonged time without having run around, or even in the absence of loud noises that day, take it to a vet for a checkup. “Smoke can cause respiratory issues or even internal burns in some cases. A vet will be able to help,” she says.

For cats, informs Dr Lakshmikripa, the signs are somewhat different. “Cats hide themselves better than dogs, so it is harder to see how they are faring,” she says, “If a cat is not moving much and exploring much less than it usually does, or not showing interest in food, or not grooming itself, it is probably in trauma.” A bedraggled cat is clearly an unwell cat.

Once you do spot these signs, what can you do? Dr Govind explains a specific anxiety wrap technique that can help dogs feel more comforted — take a rectangular cloth and start by covering the chest area, right below the animal’s neck; then bring the ends over it back, and cross it over; bring it down to below its stomach, nearer the tail; cross the ends again and bring them up, tying it at the end of its back. Do not try this with an anxious stray who is not comfortable with your touch, at least wait for it to calm down and see if it is friendly towards you.

Beyond that, both vets state that the best thing to do is let animals take shelter in your building or garage for a while, and make sure that they know they are in a safe space. “Giving them food and water and most importantly, shelter,” Dr Govind recommends. “They will move away eventually on their own,” she says, but till then, the least we can do is let them feel safe.

Below is the anxiety wrap technique that Dr. Govind recommends.


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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 9:20:32 AM |

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