Pet owners in Colorado are being urged to protect their animals from rabies exposure by being skunk-aware.
The state’s Department of Agriculture says that 34 cases of rabies in skunks have been investigated and confirmed so far this year. And because the rabies virus is easily transmittable to other mammals, pet and livestock owners are being urged to beware.
In almost every U.S. state rabies vaccines are required for dogs and cats–and in some states, ferrets. But an effective vaccine also exists for livestock like cattle, sheep and horses. Folks keeping livestock should seriously consider vaccinating, say experts.
The Department also has a collection of tips to minimize your, your pets’ and your livestock’s exposure to skunks. It, like others around the country, advises a common sense approach:
- Be especially wary of skunks wandering around during daylight hours.
- Be alert in areas where skunks might hole up, like in sheds or under parked equipment.
- Don’t encourage skunks to come into your yard by feeding them or leaving pet food bowls outside overnight.
- Don’t allow your pets to engage with live skunks or to investigate dead skunks.
- If you must remove a dead skunk, do so with a shovel and while wearing gloves.
It’s also important to remember that symptoms of rabies will vary. (Not all rabid animals become aggressive, for example.) And that can make early detection of the infection very difficult. Livestock owners are generally encouraged to isolate any animal demonstrating any behavior that seems “off” or out of character for that animal.