The Wild in the Backyard
By Rhonda Baillargeon, LVT
We are lucky to live in this rural area. There is not as much traffic, pollution, or noise as there is in the urban areas. There are drawbacks to thecountry life, however. Our pets run the risk of dangerous encounters with wild
animals. These meetings can result in bite or scratch wounds, broken bones, porcupine quills, and even death. Here is some information to help you decide f your pet requires veterinary care after a wildlife encounter
Many animals can cause bite or scratch wounds especially if they are cornered and scared. If your beloved pet comes home with wounds of any kind, always take precautions to be sure that you stay safe. If the wounds were caused by a rabid animal, you could contract the rabies virus from saliva in the wounds. Wear gloves to clean the areas and seek veterinary care as soon as possible. If your pet does not have a current Rabies vaccine, a booster will be required and possibly antibiotics to prevent severe infection. Some bite wounds can result in broken bones. Many pets do not complain about broken bones but they will hold the affected leg up and refuse to put weight on it. In these cases, a veterinary visit is in order to address the break and the resulting pain.
Porcupine quills are a big problem for country dogs and cats. Porcupines do not have any natural enemies in this area so they are not afraid of our beloved pets. When cornered or threatened, the porcupine will make his quills stand up. This serves two purposes. It makes the porcupine look larger than it is and that can be enough to scare away a timid pet. It also provides the defense of the quills which are very sharp and barbed. A brave pet that takes a sniff or even a bite will get a surprise in the form of a nose or mouth full of needles. The porcupine will also swat at the animal with its tail and that will result in quills on the side of the face, the body, and legs. Some pets will find a dead porcupine and will roll in the carcass which will result in quills on its body. Because of the barbs, it is very difficult to remove the quills and is very painful. The quills will migrate through the body if not removed and can cause severe infections and even death. A veterinary visit is recommended for sedation to remove the quills. Depending upon the extent of the injuries, pain medication and antibiotics may be required as well. A Rabies vaccine is also recommended just because porcupines are wild animals and their rabies status is unknown.
Skunks are also frequent visitors to our backyards. They can cause injuries if they get into a squabble with our pets but most of the time an encounter results in a stinky situation! If they fight with a pet, all of the tips listed above for wounds would apply. The skunk odor can be addressed at home unless the pet is sprayed directly in the face. This can cause painful nose and eyes which may require anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medication.
Be sure to keep all Rabies vaccines current to help reduce the risk of this fatal disease. Supervise outdoor playtime to limit encounters with wild animals. Keep food cleaned up to reduce the chances of wild animals setting up housekeeping in your backyard.
Ingredients: 1 quart hydrogen peroxide
2 teaspoons Dawn dish soap
¼ cup baking soda
Mix together Hydrogen Peroxide and Dawn dish soap (any dish soap will work but Dawn seems to work the best). Add the baking soda and mix into a paste that can be applied to affected areas. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse out. Repeat if needed. Be aware that this remedy can cause bleaching of dark colored fur.