When pollutants pose a problemLocal | Georgina Noyce 13 Aug 2019
Bonnie Pomeranian was making a real meal out of washing her paws and legs. She had run through wet grass early in the morning, then dashed inside, thrown herself on to her cushion to rub and squirm around to dry herself, then set about a more deliberate washing of each tiny paw.
Which is when it became a worry - almost immediately she started coughing and gagging, not a good sign from the little bundle of fluff and energy.
Animals, like humans, react to pollutants and allergens, with some more dangerous than others and, naturally, as animals go bare pawed and use their tongues for most of their ablutions, they could be affected even more than humans.
This time we were lucky. It was simply a combination of dry mouth from licking her own luxurious fur and the panting she needed to do to cool down after her race round the garden with the bigger dogs.
Next time it might not be so simple. Toxins, such as chemicals, are picked up on human shoes/clothes and carried into areas that should be safe for animals.
While animals will usually avoid areas where there are heavy odors of chemicals, they will automatically sniff familiar areas and even the slightest amount of chemical residue could be enough to kill a cat or dog.
Most animals become familiar with the sound of firecrackers. After all, they hear them on a regular basis in our part of the world. But they instinctively fear other excessive random sounds, particularly aggressive-sounding human voices, and aggressive human sounds will make most animals want to run away - or at least try to run, to avoid the sound and the apparent danger.
Making sure our four-legged friends are protected or given emotional support when danger threatens should come as automatically as putting our children's safety first - after all, an animal is never going to be able to choose where it is living or taken, so can't choose to avoid danger areas.
This is also a good time to improve our karma by donating to the SPCA and animal protection NGOs, to help with the cost of treating animals which, through no fault of theirs, are going to need treatment for injuries and illnesses caused by troubled times.
The whole world is watching the humans, but only we can look after our companion animals.
Georgina Noyce is an equestrian judge, and has a menagerie of adopted four-legged waifs and strays.