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Veterinary Care for Skunks

Baby skunks from the pet store generally have not had any medical treatment other than scent gland removal, and will require spaying or neutering, shots, and worming. They will need to be tested for coccidia and other protozoa as well as parasites. Skunks also need to have regular yearly checkups.

Veterinary understanding of skunks is rather limited, since scientists have not conducted as much research on skunks as they have on more common pets. Skunks do not always respond to medicines the same way as cats or dogs. As a result, there is considerable disagreement about how best to treat them. Some veterinarians say they are in the hamster family and treat them as such. However, hamsters are from the rodent family while skunks are in their own family the Mephitidae which is unrelated.

There are several different pet skunk organizations giving out conflicting advice on skunk care. Particularly in the medical realm, it is wise to consult multiple sources rather than rely on any one source of information from the Internet.

Spaying/neutering: Males should be neutered between 3 and 4 months of age. Females should be spayed between 4 and 6 months of age.

Vaccinations: Most skunk organizations recommend Galaxy DA2PPvL+Cv and Eclipse 4 given as a baby and then a yearly booster.Some veterinarians do not recommend giving skunks even these common shots, since they were developed for dogs and cats.

Declawing: Skunks should not be declawed, since they use their claws to handle food. Instead, their claws should be trimmed occasionally. Skunks have "digging" claws like dogs, as opposed to "ripping" claws like cats.

Roundworms: Many skunks have died from roundworms. Baylisascaris columnaris is the species that infests skunks most commonly. Baylisascaris eggs can remain viable in the environment for many years, despite hot or freezing weather or certain harsh chemicals.

Skunks can be infested with roundworms for several weeks before eggs begin to be shed in feces. It is common for new skunks to have roundworms, which may be too early in development to be detected by fecal tests. Skunk experts agree that all new skunks need to be treated for roundworms, and that more than one treatment is needed. Diagnostic Parasitologist Matt Bolek recommends that "A deworming program should probably start at 7-8 weeks of age and deworm biweekly for 3-4 treatments".

Back to Basic Skunk Information.

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