Days after Diwali, pet owners across the city faced hard time consulting veterinarians for the deteriorating condition of their pets. With rising pollution levels, several cases were recorded in animal hospitals in Delhi. This year, while many pets showed symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, there were others who needed oxygen cylinders to breathe, doctors told The Pioneer. The solution is to not let them out very often, say doctors.
"My Maximus, a Golden Retriever had to be put on oxygen cylinders. His vet recommended us to provide him oxygen through cylinders three to four times a day for two days. Nebulizers were also used because he couldn't breathe otherwise," said Hartej Dhupiya, a resident of South Delhi. The canine started showing symptoms of vomiting, loss of appetite and discomfort two days prior but the condition got worse after Deepawali, he added.
Dr Kunal Dev Sharma of Max Vets Hospital, Greater Kailash who treated Maximus said that the hospital is now receiving lot of pets coming with coughing, sneezing, conjunctivitis and breathlessness.
"During this time, we end up seeing a lot of pets who come with the symptoms of coughing, sneezing, lethargy, reduced playtime which is a visible effect of pollution on animals, especially dogs.
Pollution does not only affect their respiratory system but the effects are seen on eyes. Due to this discomfort, their appetite goes down which lowers down their immunity," said Dr Sharma.
This time the number of patients coming to the hospital is however less than that of the last year but is not ignorable as post Deepawali, the number of sick pets just doubled up, he added.
Recalling a special case this year he said, "The pollution affects animals more than human beings. I had a patient who due to some accident had developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) three years ago. So, every year, during winters especially post Deepawali, its visits would become frequent but this time he couldn't make it and died sometime ago."
According to Dr Manilal Valliyate, CEO and Chief Veterinarian, PETA India, particulate matter in the air has been linked to cardiac arrest in dogs and veterinarians sometimes attribute those deaths to the effects of air pollution. Apart from COPD, air pollution also increases risk of acute cardiovascular events and development of coronary artery disease, he added.
"Long-term exposure to pollutants may increase respiratory infections and symptoms animals and can decrease lung function in the young," he said.
He further said, "Studies show that domesticated, indoor animals also suffer an increased risk of tumours when exposed to polluted air over an extended period of time, and that must be true of animals that live and sleep outdoors, like monkeys, cats and dogs."
Apart from the respiratory diseases, the footfall at the hospitals also increased due to the gastronomical diseases in pets post Diwali.
"I have three dogs and Ginny is healthiest of them all. She usually doesn't fall ill but during Deepawali, due to noise of crackers she got really scared and a day after she started to vomit. She might have consumed a cracker," said Meghashri Raj Gautam, resident of East Delhi.
As per Dr Sharma, the consumption of crackers is a big problem amongst pets, especially dogs.
"Post Deepawali, there is a lot of cracker waste. Pets sometimes consume that waste which is toxic. The immediate symptom is vomiting and sometimes the situation can get worse," he said.
The burden of this problem is higher among stray dogs, said Dr Manilal.
"Other than inhaling the harmful contaminants directly, stray dogs also come in contact with these contaminants from the food and water that they consume and by absorption through their skin," said Dr Manilal.
Dogs' noses are lower to the ground by car exhaust fumes and they can't stay inside or wear masks, he added.
"The polluted material that dogs inhale over a prolonged period of time gets accumulated in their tissues and can damage their organs in the long run," he said.
Amidst this, the doctors suggest some precautions to tackle the situation.
"Take dogs out for walks when smog levels are low. A nutritious diet can also help keep companion animals strong. Look out for signs of respiratory and other problems and visit a trusted veterinarian as soon as you notice any," Dr Manilal said.
In addition to this, Dr Sharma suggested to feed animals with a diet rich in Vitamin C.
1.Take dogs out for walks when smog levels are low.
2.A nutritious diet can also help keep companion animals strong.
3.Look out for signs of respiratory and other problems and visit a trusted veterinarian as soon as you notice any.
4.Feed animals with a diet rich in Vitamin C.