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Protect pets during the holidays 

by Leila Salaverria

 THE firecrackers and fireworks that many people light up during the holidays may be harmful for their pets as well.

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society and the EcoWaste Coalition warned pet owners of the hazards that these pose to animals, and urged the public to refrain from using firecrackers and fireworks in their celebrations. 

Harmful noise 

PAWS Executive Director Anna Cabrera pointed out that dogs and cats have a highly-developed sense of hearing, which is why they should be protected from loud noises. 

“The exploding noise from firecrackers and other pyrotechnics is torture to animals like cats and dogs who have a very keen sense of hearing,” Cabrera said in a statement. 

The animals could also be injured because of their response to the noise, said Cabrera. She said that after the New Year’s Day revelries, PAWS usually receives reports of chained dongs strangling or injuring themselves because they tried to run away from the noise. 

“Firecrackers bring about a terrified response from many dogs and they could sustain serious and even fatal injuries just trying to get away from the deafening noise,” she said. 

The situation is also bad for stray animals who do not have a space in which to hide, she said. 

There are likewise reports of pets getting lost because they were spooked by the loud noises, she added. 

Dangerous smoke 

Moreover, Cabrera said the smoke from firecrackers and fireworks may cause anxiety, disorientation, loss of appetite, and an upset stomach in the animals. 

There is also the danger that they may accidentally eat the remnants of the firecrackers. This would cause gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, she said. 

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said there are better ways of welcoming the New Year than using pyrotechnics. 

“It’s time to let go of our toxic and warlike tradition to herald the New Year,” Lucero said.

Other ways to protect pets

PAWS and EcoWaster Coalition also shared tips to protect pets and minimize the stress they experience during celebrations. 

  • Walk or take pets for a run or have them do a vigorous physical activity before it gets dark so that they will be tired at night and sleeping soundly when the revelry begins.
  • Keep pets inside to minimize their exposure to loud explosions and toxic fumes. They should never be chained or tied up outside the home, and if they are, chaining or tethering should not go beyond an hour. Companion animals are meant to be with families and share in their activities, the groups said. 
  • Escape-proof your home to prevent pets from going out during the celebrations, and make sure pets have a collar with a tag with your details.
  • Make pets pee or poo before the celebrations start, and give them ready access to water.
  • Provide a quiet and safe spot where pets can stay during the revelries. Close the windows, pull the curtains down and play soft music inside your home.
  • Turn on the television if this will help mask the noise of the firecrackers outside and if your pets prefer the sound of the TV over other loud noises.
  • Act as normal and as calm as possible even while the explosions are at their worst so that your pets will take a cue from your behavior and know there is nothing to be alarmed about. Fussing over your pet may have the effect of  increasing their tendency to panic, the groups said. 
  • Talk to your veterinarian about giving your pet drops of “Rescue Remedy” or calming edible drops on their favorite treat ahead of time. Dog owners who could afford it may consider purchasing an anti-dog anxiety vest for dogs that have an extreme fear or trauma response to firecrackers.
  • Keep alcoholic drinks, chocolate, fruit cake, nuts, shopping bags, tobacco products, and cleaning agents out of your pet’s reach to prevent choking and poisoning incidents.

PAWS and EcoWaste also recommend giving stray animals temporary shelter in your garage, if you have the space, during the celebrations. 

“PAWS and the EcoWaste Coalition are enjoining the public to celebrate the festive days sans loud noise, toxic fumes and hazardous trash from firecrackers and fireworks,” they said. 



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