Spring Wildlife and Your Pets: What You Need to Know

Spring Wildlife and Your Pets: What You Need to Know

Posted on Jun 05, 2014 by admin

By the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association
M. Kathleen Shaw, DVM

Spring is finally here and young wildlife is everywhere. With this abundance of young wild animals, it is important to be aware of the more common animals your pet may encounter and what to do if it does.

It is quite common in the spring for our dog or cat to present us with a live baby rabbit. In addition children may find one in the yard and bring it inside, thinking it has been abandoned by its mother. If the bunny's eyes are open, it is able to eat and fend for itself in the wild. If you come across a nest of bunnies in the wild and the mother is nowhere to be seen, DO NOT disturb them - this is normal. By removing them from the nest you are greatly reducing their chances of survival. The wild rabbit mother only feeds in the middle of the night; she leaves her babies all day to not alert predators, so don’t assume she is not caring for them and take them from her!

So if your pet or child presents you with an uninjured baby rabbit, confine your pets in the house, and return the bunny to wherever it was found, immediately. It will do fine and the less time it spends in human hands, the better. If it appears injured, contact your veterinarian for the name of the closest wildlife rehabilitator near you. (Not all veterinarians are licensed to treat wildlife.)

Skunks present a smelly problem. They possess two small glands under their tail that produce a foul smelling material which the skunk can spray in the face of a predator or curious pet. While the spray is not toxic to our pets, it can cause tremendous irritation to the eyes, causing them to water and sting. Furthermore, if you think skunks smell bad, imagine how it is for our dogs and cats, whose sense of smell is up to 30 times stronger than ours! That horrible smelly material is usually sprayed right in the face of our curious pets, and the smell is so bad to them they will often vomit. Because these encounters are always a surprise, it helps to be prepared by having some products on hand to clean up your pet.

For more information, visit these sites:
Listen to the podcast from AVMA on skunks and pets
Listen to the podcast from AVMA on pets and wildlife