Thursday, 17 April 2014

Canine Distemper

As we are heading into the the rehab season it has become clear that Canine Distemper is still prevalent among the raccoon population. The first couple of litters of raccoon babies have it. I suspect they ended up orphaned due to the disease.

We need to spread this message far and wide. Canine Distemper can be contagious to dogs. You can reduce your dogs risk by ensuring your dog is properly vaccinated. Please discuss this with your veterinarian. They will know what the disease prevalence is in your area and if your dog is at increased risk for certain diseases.

Canine Distemper is 100% lethal and it is a slow and horrible death for raccoons. Some of the obvious symptoms are seizures and facial twitches. Other symptoms mimic rabies closely, so it is important to report any raccoons who are behaving unusual. Raccoons who are wide awake during the day, circling around, raccoons who are not afraid of you or actually approach you or raccoons with any other unusual behavior.  You can contact your local SPCA, Animal Control or the MNR to report these cases.

There are many healthy raccoons out there, so there is no need to panic. It is important to understand why there are rules and regulations surrounding people being in possession of wildlife. 

If you find (what you think is a) wildlife orphan please use the following steps:

  1. Contact wildlife custodian near you prior to doing anything. Each situation/species requires a different approach. For a list of Wildlife Custodians in ON Click here!

  2. If you can't reach a rehabber right away leave a message and they will get back to you asap. You can also choose to contact you local SPCA, veterinarian or the MNR.

  3. Please ensure that the babies in question are truly orphaned or injured and in need of help. Please observe den/nest sites from a safe distance so that you are not the cause of a parent not returning.

  4. Never handle any type of wildlife with your bare hands. Always wear gloves.

  5. If the babies in question are in immediate danger (in the middle of a busy highway or something) put gloves on, and put them in a secure container (with vent holes), lined with a blanket/towel. Keep this container in a dark, quiet and warm place.

  6. Do not under any circumstances try to feed the babies. Wait for instructions from a rehabber. The wrong type of food at the wrong time can be detrimental to the animal’s health. Hypothermic/Dehydrated babies will die if given food of any type. 

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