By Dr. Leslie Reed, ZimmVet – 763-856-4848

Tis the season for an abundance of wildlife as mammals emerge from hibernation, bird migration is underway, and baby animals are being born left and right. So, what to do if your dog or cat comes into contact with an adult or baby wild animal? Below are some common scenarios you may find yourself in. Follow these basic guidelines and please always check in with a local wildlife rehabilitation center if you find any injured, sick or truly orphaned wild animals.

Q: My dog found a nest of baby bunnies and I’m worried he will hurt them. What should I do to keep the babies safe?

A: Mama rabbits only come to the nest twice per day to feed her young, typically at dawn and dusk. She feeds them a very high fat milk very quickly, typically over 10-15 minutes, then will leave the nest. The reason she does this is to avoid attracting predators. If you find a nest of baby bunnies (typically a shallow depression in the ground), leave them be. If the nest has been disrupted or destroyed, you can recreate it with leaves, grass, and any rabbit fur that is still present. To keep curious pups away, either keep them on a leash when outside or flip a laundry basket upside down and over top of the nest to provide a cover and stake it down for the day. Remove it just before dusk and leave it off overnight to allow mom to come feed. Thankfully, baby rabbits mature quickly and will be out of the nest at 3-4 weeks of age.

Q: My cat brought me a live baby bird/rabbit/chipmunk/etc – what do I do?

A: Any wild animal that has been in a cat’s mouth should be evaluated at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Not only could they have injuries that need to be addressed, but cats have bacteria in their mouth that can be fatal to wild animals.

Q: Can my cat or dog catch diseases from wild animals?

A: Yes! Wildlife can transmit many types of infectious diseases to domestic animals, including mange, distemper virus, leptospirosis, rabies, fleas, and internal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms. It is very important that if your pet is in an area with high exposure to wildlife, that they are adequately protected with vaccines, routine deworming, and flea and tick prevention year-round.

Q: My dog was sprayed by a skunk!! How do I get out the smell?

A: There are some products you can order online or purchase over the counter, but if you need a quick fix here’s an easy home recipe from : 1 qt of 3% hydrogen peroxide + ¼ cup baking soda +1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap. Wearing rubber gloves, scrub this solution onto the dog being very careful not to get any in their eyes! Rinse promptly and thoroughly. Then, wash your dog with regular dog shampoo, rinse thoroughly and dry as much as possible with a towel.

Q: There are coyotes in my area. Should I be concerned about them attacking my cat or dog?

A: Coyotes are becoming more prevalent in urban areas as housing developments continue to flourish and they adjust to life around more people. If you have coyotes in your area, never leave your cats and dogs unattended outdoors overnight. Do not leave cat/dog food outside for pets or strays, as this attracts them as well as other types of wildlife (raccoons, opossums). Do not leave bags of garbage outside. If you see coyotes in your yard, deter them by banging on pots and pans.

Q: My pet found a live bat. What should I do?

A: If your cat or dog had direct contact with a bat, it is recommended to have the bat tested for rabies at your local veterinary diagnostic lab. Also, please check in with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is up to date on the rabies vaccine. If not, the pet should be properly quarantined until the rabies testing results of the bat are confirmed. Do not ever handle a bat with bare hands. If you feel that you may have been exposed, contact the department of health as well as your physician immediately.

A list of wildlife rehabilitation organizations are available at: