Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Skunks and rabies

Skunk mating season is upon us, so be sure to supervise your dogs carefully when they are outside. Getting skunked is no fun for dog or owner! Skunks have been more active recently; I smelled one at my house last week when I let the dogs out in the morning and later I saw what I presumed to be the culprit, a freshly killed skunk in the road nearly a mile away.

Should your dog get skunked, you can try this recipe for decreasing the odor:

1 quart hydrogen peroxide

1/2 cup baking soda

2 tsp dishwashing liquid

Mix together and rub over entire coat. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. DO NOT wet the dog first. DO NOT attempt to store once it is mixed- it will explode. This may lighten the dog's coat- just like a peroxide blonde! I have also used it with some success on dogs who have gotten into sewers or other stinky things.

In Kentucky, skunks are our most common animal diagnosed with rabies. There have already been 10 confirmed cases of rabies in Ky in 2009; 5 of these were in Fayette county (Lexington area) which is usually an area with multiple cases each year. 6 of the 10 cases so far this year were in skunks; one was in a dog, one in a horse. In Kenton, Boone, and Campbell counties we are most likely to see rabies in a bat. Kenton had confirmed cases of bat rabies in 2001, 2002, and 2006; Boone in 2004, and Campbell in 2001. Over the past 10 years Kentucky has typically seen 20-45 cases of rabies per year. In 2008 there were 6 cases in dogs and 1 in a cat; in 2007 5 dogs and 2 cats; and in 2006 5 dogs and 4 cats.

Make certain your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Should your pet have a bite wound of unknown origin, their rabies vaccine should be boostered. If you plan to travel with your pet in the Lexington area, you would be wise to carry a copy of your rabies certificate with you.

Also remember if your pet needs to be euthanized for any reason, is not current on its rabies vaccine, and has bitten someone recently, it MUST either go through a quarantine period first or have its brain submitted for testing after death. This is a legal requirement, not a requirement of our hospital. So be sure to keep your pet up to date to avoid any unpleasant issues around an already difficult time.

And be very careful in approaching wildlife and in allowing your pets to approach. Rabies is a real disease and it does really happen in this day and age!

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