Diwali is around the corner. It will be followed by Halloween, a celebration that is gaining popularity. This means two weeks of diverse celebrations. For a vet, though, it frequently leads to anxiety about the kinds of medical issues they might have to deal with.
Burn injuries in pets from unattended fireworks and diyas are the most common medical injuries during and after Diwali. If you notice any minor burn wounds, douse the area with cold water and then apply an ointment containing silver nitrate, such as Silverex. To guard against any long-term harm, take your pet to the vet . In case of severe burn injuries, take the pet to the vet immediately.
The second most frequent kind of cases we see during Diwali are toxicities. Last year, I attended to a Golden Retriever that had devoured prasad which had raisins. The parent brought the dog to the clinic right away since she knew raisins could lead to kidney failure in dogs. Vomiting, drinking more water, changes in the amount of urine produced are all indications of renal failure. Even though other dried fruits are generally safe to eat, avoid giving any to your pet, especially smaller pets, so that they don’t choke on them.
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During Diwali and Halloween, pets could have access to chocolates and candies, both of which are bad for their health. Chocolate is so toxic that it can kill a small dog. The amount and type of chocolate consumed and the size of the dog or cat are factors that determine the outcome of the toxicity. Even when it’s not severe, it can harm the digestive system or trigger seizures. Candies sometimes contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol. If xylitol toxicity is not treated immediately, a dog will experience convulsions and eventually die due to an acute drop in blood sugar.
Also, the rich food savoured at festivities has the potential to lead to pancreatitis in pets. This can result in vomiting, inability to retain food or fluids, a lack of appetite, severe pain and lethargy.
Two years ago, gunpowder from Diwali fireworks left on the streets was consumed by a Beagle, which was brought to my clinic. Fortunately, the only symptoms it had were diarrhoea and stomach pain.
So, watch your pet during walks. I have occasionally seen animals that have choked after attempting to ingest a piece of festive décor. I would advise pet owners to familiarise themselves with the Heimlich manoeuvre and how to perform it on animals. In the event of a choking emergency, pet parents must be aware of the signs. The tongue may become blue, suggesting a lack of oxygen, and the pet may exhibit obvious trouble breathing. These are clear signs of choking. When there isn’t enough time to get to a vet, the Heimlich manoeuvre can save a life.
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Pets with asthma, particularly cats and dog breeds with flat faces like pugs, may struggle during these weeks. Even the smoke from candles, crackers and diyas can set off an asthma attack. It may result in upper respiratory tract irritation in some animals, which can lead to coughing, nasal discharge, even trouble falling asleep. Their eyes tend to water more frequently when they are irritated with smoke. Some animals could also suffer from bronchitis. Consider your options before lighting diyas inside and keep the windows closed if firecrackers are being set off close to your house.
I have found that gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), a life-threatening condition that affects large-breed dogs like Labradors and Great Danes, occurs more frequently at this time. Why, is still a mystery. The dog’s stomach may bulge physically and twist due to noise, stress, anxiety, or activity after a large meal. It will retch repeatedly, appear agitated, and the abdomen will start expanding physically with gas. Immediate surgery is necessary to save the pet.
Sometimes you may need to give pets afraid of loud sounds medication to help them deal with nervousness. Don’t force your pet if it appears uncomfortable donning a costume for Halloween. Most of all, watch out for the warning symptoms and ensure timely treatment.
Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.