The biggest party in New Orleans is gearing up, as the first big weekend of Carnival parades is here. While Carnival time is exciting for humans, it can be stressful for animals. As many head out this weekend to enjoy the festivities, consider leaving the pets at home.

The loud noises of the sirens and marching bands can frighten many animals. Even if a dog is not bothered by the sounds, the crowds can be overwhelming and the potential to lose a pet is greater when there are hundreds of people around.

Those who live on the parade route and have guests over may want to consider creating a quiet retreat for pets during the festivities. For example, a bedroom with their crate and favorite toys can allow them to feel safe if the party gets too noisy.

Also, be aware of the foot traffic going in and out of the front door and make sure no one accidently lets a pet escape. While many pet owners are mindful of where their animals are when the door is open, their guests may not be pet owners nor as cautious. If the party is going to be too overwhelming for pets, make arrangements for them to stay with a family member or board them to avoid all the possible negative scenarios.

While dogs are not allowed on the regular parade routes, there are still opportunities for dog lovers to enjoy parades set up especially for canines and their human families. One of the biggest canine parades in New Orleans is rolling this weekend.

This Sunday, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus, the only officially licensed Mardi Gras krewe by and for canines, will take to the streets of the French Quarter for the 23rd year. This year’s theme is “Bark Wars: Return of the K-9.” This parade is fun for all, even those without four-legged family members. All proceeds from Barkus benefit animal organizations in New Orleans and the Gulf South area. To register a dog for the parade or for more information, visit barkus.org.

Events

BARKUS: The preparade pawty for the Mystic Krewe of Barkus will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Armstrong Park, 701 N. Rampart St., New Orleans. The parade will roll at 2 p.m. For information, visit barkus.org.

CRITTER CINEMA: An overnight Valentine’s Day Critter Cinema extravaganza will be held from 6 p.m. Feb. 14 to 9 a.m. Feb. 15 at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids ages 5 to 10 will play with puppies and kittens and enjoy a G-rated critter movie, crafts, games and more. Participants should bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush and PJs.

The cost is $55 per child, and advance registration is required. To register, call (504) 368-5191, ext. 207, or email erica@la-spca.org. For more information, visit www.la-spca.org/crittercinema.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, email molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.