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How safe is Holi for Pets and Stray Animals?

Pets holi safety

Holi, the festival of colors marks the arrival of spring season and this jubilant occasion brings us a lot of fun and entertainment including the playing session with gulaal and water balloons. Though we are excited about the prospect of throwing colors on each other, pets and stray animals present outside detest getting hit with these balloons and colors.

We can easily figure this out by seeing them run frantically during the celebration. Moreover, only a few of us are aware of the adverse health impacts these colors can have on our four legged friends.

Stray dogs and cats are the ones who are most exposed to these gulaal and water balloons. While we all can easily wash the color off after the celebration, these animals cannot.

The stain in their skin, over a period of time, can cause them a lot of health problems. Even the colors which are sold as “herbal and non-toxic” are not devoid of danger. It, therefore, becomes important to exclude your pets and stray animals from the vicinity of the celebration.

Unlike dogs and cats, we have an immune system that is strong enough to counter any ill effects caused by the chemicals and dyes in the colors. The toxicity of these chemicals can take a toll on the animals having a weak defense mechanism.

Adverse Effects of Colors on Pets & Strays

Let us look at some of the ways how these colors and dyes prove dangerous to our pets and stray animals’ health.

  • Skin allergies and hair loss
    Most dry colors used during Holi contain chemicals like Mercury Sulfate and metal oxides. These are known to induce skin allergies and inflammation in dogs, especially in the short-haired breeds. The constant itching and scratching associated with it can also lead to skin rashes and hair fall.
  • Leads to blindness
    Stray dogs often get hit by water balloons. Most of the time, the balloons are filled with colors. The colored water and the dyes present in these balloons can be detrimental to their eyes which can even lead to permanent loss of eyesight.
  • Causes respiratory disorders
    We often see people smearing color powders on their pets during Holi. Little do they know that these powders can enter through the nasal tracts of the pets extremely quickly. The chemicals in the powder, on inhalation, can cause them lung infections and other respiratory issues.
  • Acts as a slow poison
    Dogs and cats have a habit of cleaning themselves by licking. While self-grooming, they end up ingesting a lot of the colors we have applied to their body. The colors and dyes contain traces of lead which are slow poisons that can be fatal for both your pets and the stray animals.

Pets holi safety 1

Precautions for ensuring Pets & Stray Safety on Holi

Amidst all the fun and celebration, we can still take a little bit of our time to ensure the safety and comfort of these innocent creatures. Also, being aware of some precautionary steps to protect the animals is always beneficial. Below are the best preventive measures for keeping your pets and strays outside safe and secure during Holi.

  • Create awareness in your area
    Putting up notices and posters regarding the dangers of the colors in pets can save a lot of dogs and cats from being colored. You can also ask the colony guards to keep an eye on the strays during the day of the celebration. Teaching kids in your locality not to throw the water balloons and powders at strays is also a good preventive measure.
  • Use pet shampoos to remove the colors
    Use only pet shampoos which are meant for dogs and cats to remove the dirt and color stains from their body. Never use alcohol or human shampoos in them as it can lead to skin allergies and infections.

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  • Refrain from giving sweets to the pets
    Cream, resins and other preservatives present in the sweets can wreck your pet’s digestive system and even cause complications like liver failure.
  • Watch out for the symptoms of poisoning
    Vomiting, Excessive drools, Loose stool and Behavioral changes are some of the clear symptoms of color poisoning. Rush to the nearest Veterinarian immediately on seeing these indications.
  • Keep your pet indoors
    Keeping your pet dogs and cats inside your house during the celebration is the best way to prevent them from being hit by the colored powders and water balloons. It would be also great if you can create a safe space for the stray dogs outside.

Besides the adverse physical effects these colors can cause the animals, there might be a few psychological impacts too. Dogs and cats can become anxious and depressed as they cannot figure out what is happening around. This is why you might have seen stray dogs running away and never showing up again.

The eve of Holi is a good time for us people to celebrate and rejoice. However, one can also give a little consideration to the health of innocent pets and the stray animals.

Wishing you a happy and safe Holi!


An avid nature and animal lover, Akhil likes to read and watch anything related to wildlife. He also has a great interest in athletics, mainly track and field events and is a big Masala Dosa fan.


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