Steps In Caring For A Stray

Little Bit is such a cute little stray dog.

Little Bit is as sweet as she is cute.
Little Bit is as sweet as she is cute.

Little Bit gives us the opportunity to explain some special considerations about taking in strays.

First, your mother is not going to believe you if you tell her she followed you home, so just stick to the truth…you couldn’t resist her.

Second, if you have other pets, their safety must be your first concern:

  • Take the stray to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Doing so will reduce your existing pets’ risk of contracting the inevitable intestinal parasites, skin parasites, upper respiratory tract infections and fungal infections they tend to carry. Fleas and ticks are bad enough, but you haven’t lived until you’ve had a house full of dogs with scabies.
  • Keep a new pet isolated from existing pets, especially if you must take her home before your pet’s doctor can see her. Three weeks is usually sufficient time for isolation, and will allow any incubating problems to surface, thus preventing your other pets from becoming infected.

Third, keep in mind that we must assume these pets have not previously seen a doctor. Therefore:

  • Booster vaccinations must be given on a schedule of not less than three weeks and not more than four weeks from the date of the first vaccines. Too soon and the immune system is not yet ready to respond to the boosters. Beyond a month the immune system “forgets” that it had the first vaccinations and the series has to start over. This applies to both dogs and cats.
  • For dogs, a followup heartworm test is required six months after a negative test, while maintaining heartworm preventive every month.
  • For cats, a followup Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus test is required two months later, regardless of the results of the first test.
  • Few animals found as strays have been altered, so spay/neuter surgery must be scheduled right away. For example, Little Bit is in heat right now, and a stray cat, Lucy, we examined this morning is pregnant. All in a day’s work.

Good news for Little Bit, her heartworm test and stool test were both negative today.

Lucy is also a very clean and healthy stray.
Lucy is also a very clean and healthy stray.

Lucy had a negative FeLV and FIV test and a negative stool test.

Animal lovers, keep doing what you do, taking in those strays and giving them your love. They need us more than ever. Between the oil spill and the bad economy, record numbers of pets are being abandoned.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.


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