Chinese Lanterns – the Dangers for Dogs

sky-lanternsChinese New Year is a huge celebration in communities around the world not just in China, and with a high population of Chinese communities in London and the UK, it’s no wonder that there are numerous planned celebrations for the 6th February 2016 to greet the Chinese New Year in style.

Many of these celebrations, may involve lighting and releasing Chinese (Sky) Lanterns, although these have also become increasingly popular to let off at weddings and other celebrations in the UK. However, the use of Chinese Lanterns pose a number of dangers to dogs and other animals, so it’s worth being aware before you release one and when you’re out walking your dog.

Pretty but Dangerous

Made from a bamboo or wire frame with a thin paper covering, one might be fooled into thinking these lanterns are a bit of harmless fun and of course they look pretty in the night sky, but the fact of the matter is these lanterns can cause serious injury, suffering and in some cases death for animals, including dogs.

Whilst some lanterns made from bamboo and paper are biodegradable, bamboo can take years to actually break down and often splinters on impact with the earth, which can leave sharp pieces sticking out of the ground. These may cause puncture wounds to paws or the throat and stomach if ingested by your unsuspecting dog on a walk. Not only that, but if the frame is made from wire, it isn’t biodegradable and poses even more of a danger for dogs and animals as they can easily get entangled in the wire or cause harm through ingestion of sharp parts or puncture wounds.

Increased Fire Hazards

Furthermore, Chinese Lanterns pose an increased fire risk, as depending on the wind conditions, these lanterns can travel miles from their original destination, so once let off you have no idea where it’s going to land. If a lighted lantern lands in farm land or a barn, it can cause a fire, which in turn could affect livestock and domestic animals close by.

Whilst we’re not trying to dampen spirits or celebrations, it is about being more aware of the dangers these lanterns can cause to our pets and livestock. Keeping a watchful eye out for lantern debris whilst out on dog walks and picking it up along with teaching your dog a good leave it can help

You may also want to educate those around you on the alternatives, such as stationary candles, night lights or static lanterns that aren’t released into the atmosphere.

Resource RSPCA