Parasites

Internal Parasites

When you get your new skunk baby, or even an older rescue, you should worm it by following the instructions on the box. A skunk can be perfectly white and be loaded with round worms. Round worms may NOT show up in a fecal test. If your skunk has fleas then you should worm for tape worms using Droncit.

Note: Do NOT use wormers containing piperazine citrate. Erliworm is a common brand containing piperazine citrate.

We do suggest having a fecal test done on your skunk to check for coccidiosis and worms. Other problems have been found in fecal tests such as Lung Flukes, Lung Worms, and bacteria; i.e., Spirochetes, Campylobacter, and Clostridium.

Garlic and organic apple cider vinegar will help prevent internal and external parasite infestation.


Roundworms and Tapeworms

Roundworms are a common problem in pet skunks. We use typical roundworm treatment worming products for dogs. We suggest a wormer with the strength of pyrantel pamoate 4.54 mg Skunk Haven uses Pro-Wormer-2 by Foster & Smith. For tapeworms we have used Droncit, tablets and injectable.

For roundworms you can just follow the directions on the box, or instructions from your vet, to rid your skunk of worms. For example, if the box instructs you to worm (puppys) at 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 weeks, you would worm your skunk every week for three weeks THEN every other week for another six weeks (three times). 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. If your skunk has a constant problem with roundworms it is probably being re-infested in your home, steam clean all floors and carpets.

Worm being passed by a skunk Worms being passed by a skunk
Worm being passed Worms being passed

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).

After 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 skunk is 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.

ONCE your skunk is rid of worms then worm every 4 to 6 months.


Often skunks can be severely infested with parasites and show no signs. The pictures below show a (three pound) skunk and the large number of worms it passed when wormed.

Yearling skunk before worming A pile of worms expelled from the yearling skunk
Before worming Worms expelled after worming

More information on parasites at Purdue University .


Lungworms and Flukes

Lungworms and flukes have infected some pet skunks. Snails, slugs, earthworms, and fresh-water cray-fish are common intermediate hosts of lung worms and lung flukes. Common symptoms of infestation are persistant coughing with breathlessness after high activity levels, decreased appetite, and weight loss (no bloating or swelling of the stomach or intestines).

If you suspect lung parasite infestation contact your vet and indicate that you suspect lungworms, get a fecal exam and chest X-ray to determine the type of parasite and the damage done. Numbers of lung parasites is not an indicator of the severity of the infestation, small numbers of lung parasites can produce severe damage to the air passages and lungs and may eventually cause asphyxiation.

Products recommended to expell roundworms will not effectively clear lungworms. Panacur is an effective medication in most cases. You can obtain Panacur from your vet, the dose is based on weight (same as for dogs).


Protozoa and Bacteria

Coccidia are protazoans that are common problems in very young or unhealthy animals. A young skunk can be severely affected, the most common symptom is diarrhea. We have used Albon to treat Coccidiosis and recommend dosing young skunks that have undergone undue stress to prevent complications.

Bacterial parasites can cause severe diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. Spirochetes, Campylobacter, and Clostridium have been noted in skunks in recent years. Contact a vet if your skunk shows any signs of diarrhea, bloody stools, or constipation.


External Parasites

Fleas, ticks, and lice are common external parasites. Many external parasites carry disease or other parasites which can cause more problems.

You can use a Pyrethrin-base shampoo to eliminate external parasites; do not use Hartz products. We suggest you dilute the shampoo with a little water before putting it on your skunk. You should also wash all bedding with this shampoo.

To prevent re-infestation we have used Advantage for Cats topical treatment.

Some people use a natural flea killer that you can make yourself. Take a couple of lemons and slice them up, add them to boiling water, and let them simmer for just a few minutes. Let the lemons sit in the water for 24 hours and then pour the water off of the lemons into a spray bottle. Spray the animal. It not only kills fleas, but it also makes your house smell nice and lemony. You can also take the rinds from the lemons and put them in places where you know you have problems with fleas. Something about the rinds the fleas don't like so they stay away from them.


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