Skunks Can Cause More Than Smelly Problems For Pet Owners New

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STILLWATER – The nose knows. Even the slightest hint of a skunk’s presence can cause pet owners to scramble to find a way to get rid of the scent.

But it’s not just the smell that is of concern. Skunks are the main reservoirs of rabies in Oklahoma, followed by bats, said Dr. Barry Whitworth, a veterinarian at Oklahoma State University Extension.

When it comes to rabies, Whitworth said, “an ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.”

“Economically, it is much cheaper to prevent disease than to treat it, and disease prevention is better for the animal. Some diseases, including rabies and canine distemper, are generally fatal, ”he said.

Oklahoma recognizes one- or three-year vaccines; however, local governments may have ordinances that require annual vaccines. Owners of small animals should consult a veterinarian to find out which rabies vaccine is best for their area. In addition, animals should be seen at least once a year for a general examination.

Rabies clinics are often held in the spring or early summer because that’s when the skunks are most active. However, Whitworth said dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies based on the animal’s age, not necessarily the time of year. In small animals, it is usually at 3 months with a booster for the 1 year old.

“Rabies can present itself in several ways. The first is the aggressive form that most people recognize, the typical “mad dog”. Animals with this form will be aggressive, hypersalivated, vocalize and wander, ”Whitworth said. “The second form is the paralytic or mute form, which is often not recognized by pet owners. These animals appear to be in a stupor, and infection is seen in wild animals that people encounter. “

In such cases, the rabid animal is not afraid of people; nocturnal creatures will be seen more often during the day; and in some cases the infected animal will approach humans or attempt to enter their homes. Unfortunately, that’s when people are most often exposed because they don’t realize the animal is sick.

“It’s important for pet owners to realize that rabies is almost always fatal and that’s why vaccines are so important. Experimentally, the animals survived the disease, but the treatment is not practical in a clinical setting, ”he said. “The dangers to veterinarians and staff do not justify treating animals. “

Aside from rabies, what should pet owners do if a furry friend has an encounter with a skunk and is lip service? While getting a dog inside the house and in a bathtub may seem like the obvious solution, it’s best to keep the animal outside, said OSU Extension veterinarian Dr Rosslyn Biggs. and director of continuing education at the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The odorous molecules spread from one surface to another and remain stuck.

“The skunk spray is produced by the skunk’s anal glands to defend against predators and contains sulfur-containing chemicals called thiols,” Biggs said. “The best recipe for getting rid of that smell is a mixture of food grade hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid soap.”

In a bucket, mix 4 cups of peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. While the mixture is still bubbling, apply it to the dog’s dry coat, being careful not to get it in the animal’s eyes or mouth. Lather and rub the mixture into the coat and skin for about five minutes or until the odor begins to dissipate.

To remove the snuff from the face and ears, apply the mixture with a sponge, making sure to cover the dog’s chin, cheeks, forehead and ears. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to tilt the dog’s head upwards to prevent the solution from getting into his eyes and mouth. This process may need to be repeated.

Biggs pointed out that a horrible smell is still not as much of a problem as rabies, however.

“If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a rabid animal, contact your vet immediately,” Biggs said.

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