Holi 2017: How to ensure the festival of colours is happy for animals too

New Delhi: While the country is caught in the Holi revelry, every year both stray and pet animals inadvertently become victims of hooliganism, which must be stopped with increased sensitisation of the public, say animal rights organisations.

Noting that the colours used during the celebrations are made of "toxic metals and dyes", Dr RT Sharma of Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in New Delhi said it was important for people to understand that animal skin was different from human skin.

"While human skin sweats to flush out the chemicals, animals like dogs do not have sweat glands and their bodies end up absorbing the toxins."

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

"On several occasions," he said, "stray dogs end up licking or drinking the coloured water, which can result in severe liver problems, and can also be fatal in certain cases," Sharma told PTI.

Friendicoes — SECA in Defence Colony in New Delhi, which has been spreading awareness against animal cruelty during the festival, will remain open on Holi to attend to any kind of emergency that might occur.

"Besides the colours which are harmful, cold water splashes made on animals and loud noises frighten them, leaving them in a confused and restless state of mind," Mandy Seth, President of Friendicoes said.

The animal shelter will be providing facilities like ambulance and other emergency-related services, along with a 24x7 functioning veterinary clinic in the advent of any mishap.

Sharma said often most pet owners were too emotionally attached to their animals to leave them out of the festivities, ending up harming them in the process.

Both Sharma and Seth suggested that while a 'tilak' on the forehead of the animal was acceptable, it was advisable that they be kept indoors.

In case of accidental spills, Sharma suggested an aggravated situation could be recognised by a change of behaviour in the animal like increased restlessness and scratching, drooling or an aggressive flapping of their heads.

While in extreme cases, the victim must be taken to a doctor immediately, giving them a bath in warm water using a mild animal shampoo was an advisable step as first aid.

"Affected animals show very recognisable signs in behaviour, especially a vehement flapping of head. They tend to become more aggressive. In some dogs like Pugs and Shih Tzus, who have bigger eyes, colours can also cause eye problems. In such cases, they should be washed in warm water and in more serious cases, taken to the vet," Sharma said.

As part of their awareness campaign, Peta too has put out a word of caution for people playing Holi around animals.

In an article titled, "Keep Animals Safe This Holi", the Mumbai-based animal rights organisation urged people to create awareness in their localities and sensitise children against "throwing powder colour or water balloons at animals".

"Kids may not realise that this frightens and hurts animals," the article reads.

Besides the synthetic colours used during the festival, that can cause skin allergies, rashes or even blindness in people as well as animals, Peta also warned against letting animals consume "Holi sweets".

"Animals can easily inhale the coloured powder, which can cause nasal irritation and respiratory allergies or infections. Animals that ingest it while grooming themselves can suffer from stomach ailments or other illnesses or even die. Drinking water coloured by the powder can also cause hair loss and dermatitis in dogs."

"Also, give dogs only canine-friendly treats this Holi. Ingredients like cream, chocolate and raisins can make them sick or even kill them," the article notes.

Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar-based Animal Welfare Trust Ekamra (AWTE) will have a group of volunteers keeping an eye on street animals to offer immediate first aid if required.

"We have also planned to clean the small puppies and dogs by giving them a bath to remove the colour," Purabi Patra from AWTE said.


Published Date: Mar 12, 2017 02:57 pm | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 02:57 pm

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