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Pet Skunk Health/Veterinary Care

Dear Sophie,

My skunk, Flower, is losing hair at the tip of her tail and it appears to be getting worse. What could be causing this and what can I do about it?

Sophie says,

Many skunks experience a seasonal loss of hair that is like an over all thinning. Some skunks lose hair in the tail only. Most of this occurs in states that have seasonal changes. Sophie is in South Florida and sheds her winter coat in the spring but nothing extreme.
If she is more than a year old and hasn't gone through this in other years, I would have a vet check her. If this is her first year, I would watch for other symptoms and take her to the vet if the fur doesn't start to grow back within a few weeks.
It is possible that her diet may not agree with her. Make sure she is getting the proper balance of proteins, fats and a healthly variety of vegetables in her diet.
Is the skin broken or irritated at the tip of the tail? If the skin is or was broken at the area of fur loss, it is important to have your vet take a culture and prescribe the appropriate medication. Wounds on skunks sometimes appear to heal on the surface but the infection is inside them and must be treated.
If she has no medical problems and her diet is healthy, a small dose of zinc will help grow her fur quickly. Zinc is found in raw almonds or you will find it in many chewable children's supplements. A dosage of 3 to 5mg per day up to 5 days per week has been effective at hair regrowth. Use for several weeks and then discontinue. It is best to balance her diet so that her nutrients are obtained from the food.
There are many skunk owners who feel this is a normal, seasonal shedding and do nothing.

Dear Sophie,

We have a 10-month old skunk named Oreo. I reference "Skunk Stuff" often, and have read that it is adviseable to use Terramycin in their water, daily. Since Oreo shares his water with our two dogs (30 lbs and 40 lbs), will this affect the dogs in any way?

Sophie says,

Sophie has referred this question to her Veterinarian, Dr. John N. Case, Jr., BS, DVM of VCA Promenade Animal Hospital.
"Terramycin is used for many species of animals as a preventative and thereby a growth enhancer by eliminating susceptible bacteria. Since it is related to Tetracycline, its beneficial use will be blocked by the ingestion of high calcium foods, as dairy products, that are ingested two hours pre- and post-administration of the Terramycin. Since the Terramycin is being administered in the drinking water on a continuous basis, this blocking effect is negligible. Should other species drink the medicated water, I do not envision a problem."

John N. Case, Jr., BS, DVM
VCA Promenade Animal Hospital
4424 North University Drive
Lauderhill, Florida 33351 USA
Phone: 954-748-9600
Fax: 954-749-7204

Dear Sophie,

Hi, I am having such a hard time getting rid of the round worms in my skunks can you give me some hints? I have wormed 3 days in a row and they keep coming back. Do I do that and then do once a month forever? Thanks I have 3 skunks.

Sophie says,

This is a tough question for Sophie, so she asked her friends at SkunkHaven, Inc. for help. This is what they suggested.

"It sounds like the skunks are being re-infested by the time you worm again. Are these roundworms or something else?

The prescription you seem to be using is more like what would be used for Panacur. Be careful to use the dose-by-weight recommended (for dogs), too little won't give you the results, but don't overdose by more than about 25% with any pyrantel pamoate product. Evict-DS is 1 tsp. (5ml) per 10 lb so for a 15lb skunk you would use 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 tsp., for a 5lb skunk use 1/2 tsp. (Maybe a bit over).

For Strongid-t/Nemix-2/Evict (we use Evict-DS) you need to follow the entire worming cycle. For Evict you would worm on Week 1 (today), Week 2, Week 3, Week 5, Week 7, Week 9. THEN wait 4 weeks and do a maintenance worm again to make sure the worms are cleared; if not you continue through the cycle the second time.

Wash the skunks with a good (dog) shampoo, clean the rear end, under-side, legs, and pads of the feet. Bathe them about every two weeks until the worms are clear. In the mean time, quarantine the skunks to one area and CLEAN everywhere. Steam clean the floors/carpets, use a pet-safe product or simple soap and water or vinegar and water solutions, you can rent a machine or have a company come in (make sure they use pet-safe products). Once you have cleaned and the floor/carpet is dry, you need to kill any remaining eggs by drying the areas as much as possible, especially near the litter pans and the bedding areas. You can spray alcohol over the areas until damp and let dry naturally, on carpets make sure you soak the nap of the carpet. Common isopropyl or 150 proof grain alcohol will work, you can dilute the grain alcohol at 1:1 water:alcohol. If you can keep the animals quarantined for a few days you can try a desiccant powder, or even table salt, left on for a few days, then vacuumed up (make sure the floor is dry after cleaning before you use one of these). Don't forget bedding, toys, etc., we wash in HOT water, and go through the wash cycle twice then dry completely. If the skunks are caged at night or during the day you need to clean those areas with the alcohol when you bathe the skunks before they go back in."

Kevin Wilson,
SkunkHaven Skunk Rescue, Shelter, and Education, Inc.
E-mail : Phone: 440-327-4349
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Dear Sophie,

I would like to know what type of vitamins are the best for my skunk? Also what would make my skunk turn yellow? A VET CHECKED HIS LIVER AND HE SAID HE WAS FINE WITH HIS WEIGHT AND DOESN'T KNOW WHY HIS FUR HAS A YELLOW TINGE TO IT.

Sophie says,

Skunks should receive most of their nutrition from a balanced diet of fresh and mostly raw vegetables, varied as we like to see different things on our plate too. Good quality cooked poultry provides protein. A small amount of nuts will provide trace nutrients and fat for a shiny coat. Make sure they are salt free and chopped into small pieces. Also a teaspoon of lowfat cottage cheese everyday to supply calcium. Cultured milk products usually do not cause stomach distress in skunks like regular milk does. Supplementation of taurine, 250mg per day is needed for domestic skunks. Most skunks need additional calcium in their diet.
It is common for skunks who are fed dog or cat food to turn yellow. This is because skunks are sensitive to the chemical additives and preservatives in processed foods. When put on a diet more like their natural one, the yellow will go away. If he is eating a healthy diet, other causes of turning yellow may be intestinal parasites or stress. Sophie's Doctor recommends a full blood panel be done on him. This will tell you what supplements are needed. Make sure your Vet is knowledgeable about skunks.

Dear Sophie,

I have a question concerning a skin condition that my brother's skunk, Flower has developed. She has very pink skin and is scratching her hair all off. She is very uncomfortable. I am the one that grooms her. I work at a boarding and grooming kennel. I don't know what to do, I can come up with vitamins and other natural remedies to help dogs but I don't know what skunks require. Please help.
B.H., Ohio

Sophie says,

Does she have fleas? Skunks do not do well exposed to chemicals like in commercial flea preparations. Sophie gets bathed in Dr. Bronner's Liquid Peppermint soap. Fleas dislike the smell of peppermint. Usually the skunk must be bathed twice, once to kill the fleas and again when the eggs hatch. If this is not effective, consult a vet for a safe treatment.
Is Flower getting the supplements skunks need to stay healthy? These include Taurine 250 mg per day and a calcium supplement unless her bloodwork shows she gets enough from her diet. She may need more fat or protein in her diet. If she is getting processed food like dog food, she may be allergic to something in the food.
Some skunks scratch while shedding their winter coat. Most have an even hair loss if normal shedding. Sophie would get a vet's opinion if she is scratching her hair off and is uncomfortable. There may be something in her environment that she is allergic to or that is irritating her skin. Skunks should not be exposed to chemicals like bleach, household cleaners or pesticides.


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