Written By Disha Ramanan
Holi is right around the corner, and most of us await the festival of joy and colour with glee. Faces will again be awash in every imaginable hue and the streets will be full of the kind of vibrancy that only Holi can bring. People come together and exchange the usual, decadent Holi delicacies with cheer.
It's no wonder then that many of us also want to include our pooches in the festivities. Our furballs of love are such an important part of our world and we love celebrating anything and everything with them!
However, in the heady exuberance of Holi, it's important we still remember the fact that the things that are safe for us may not always be safe for our animal companions.
Let's explore some things which we should refrain from this Holi, for the sake of our dogs. And further, in the article, we suggest a few ways you can make Holi a true celebration for the animal members of your family (we know how important our animals are - we are pet parents too!).
What Not To Do
No matter what the label says - herbal, organic, etc - colours are best kept away from animals. They often come blended with lead, metal oxides and sulfates which are serious toxins. Colours pose a four-fold threat to the safety of both pet dogs and community (stray) dogs. They:
- cause skin issues and allergies (leading to constant itching, inflammation and hair loss),
- have the potential to affect the eyes and cause blindness (often, dogs are hit with water balloons full of coloured water, which upon contact with the eyes, may even cause permanent damage),
- may affect the respiratory system (which happens when the dog inhales colour and therefore the offending toxins enter the airway) and finally,
- may cause slow poisoning (animals lick themselves clean and when they lick a spot of colour on their skin trying to get it off, the colour is ingested).
Water balloons are also a no-no
Water balloons - even if they're only filled with water - are a bad idea. It's simply not fun for a dog to be hit by a water balloon of any size. It's something that's frightening and harrowing and that's not what Holi is all about! Besides, it's just the onset of spring which is known for chilly winds - you don't want your dog catching a cold.
Stay away from Sweets
The traditional Holi delicacies are full of cream, butter and sugar. The perfect ingredients for a nasty stomach upset for your pooch. Dogs' bodies are just not meant for digesting concentrated amounts of dairy and sugar. Another crucial thing to remember is that a lot of Indian sweets have raisins and these are poisonous to dogs. Keep your vet on call if you think your dog has eaten something he should not have.
Precautions are key
Although it's going to be a ruckus outside, there is no reason your furball should remain cooped up inside and bored all day long. Plan ahead so that you can wake up an hour or two earlier and get him his long walk done in the morning (or even later at night). While out on the walk, make sure to keep him away from kids too!
Just in case your dog eats something he shouldn't or gets colour in his eyes, nose or mouth, keep your vet on hand to figure out how best to deal with emergencies. Always remember to wash sensitive areas with pure, distilled, tepid water.
Colour on the skin should only be removed with water and your dog's mild shampoo. At most, you can use some coconut oil to remove some stubborn colour. Under no circumstances should "popular fixes" and urban myths such as kerosene, turpentine oil, hydrogen peroxide etc be used.
Some Ideas for an Inclusive Celebration
Holi is all about colour, so it's understandably annoying if your pooch can't participate. But colours being unsafe are best stayed away from. So how about this Holi you do something unique! Get your dog all ready by buying her some wonderfully vibrant bandanas, bow-ties and accessories? Check out our selection of bandanas and bowties in all hues (hey, a bit of self-promo never hurt anybody, right?!) and include your doggo in the colour and cheer.
Also if your dog likes water, why not get an inflatable kiddy pool and fill it with water to be kept on your terrace, balcony or yard so that your doggo can join in the fun, in her own way! Or set up a nice bath for her with the shower on and some new bath toys so that it's a nice rain dance she can enjoy?
Okay so there are some alternatives for colour and water, but how about when you're munching on all those delectable gujiyas and malpuas that are an inevitable part of Holi and your furball looks on, making those big, puppy-dog eyes at you? What do you do then? We certainly shouldn't be giving her any but it's not a crime to want your fur-baby to be a part of the fun, right?
Time for a compromise, then. How about you indulge your pet and make her some delicious, safe and home-made treats she would love? Here are some super easy-to-make yet delectable treats for your furry best bud!
There are some great recipe ideas on this website - including frozen peanut butter and yoghurt treats, healthy pumpkin balls and apple crunch pupcakes!
Over here are some other recipes too - really simple ones. Check here for two-ingredient recipes, cheesy bone treats, and even some diabetic dog treats!
And finally, how about this compilation of treat recipes which includes doggo donuts, flavoured biscuits and more?
So there you have it…some great ways you can make this Holi an inclusive one for the two-legged as well as the four-legged members of your fam!
Oh, and a final word - make sure to also have an eye out for the community dogs near your house. They are unfortunately the biggest victims of a festival that's supposed to be about the power of love and goodness! It's a great idea to educate the kids in the area beforehand about the dos and don'ts as well as keep in mind some basic tips of precaution and first aid so that it can be a happy, cheery, lovely celebration for all.
We wish everyone a very happy, colourful and safe Holi!!