K-State Today has reported that the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University is warning the public to be on the lookout for raccoons, especially those showing up in the daytime, as they could be a health threat to dogs.
Raccoons are normally nocturnal animals but daytime sightings have been more common this summer. Staff at the Veterinary Health Center say a rise in cases of canine distemper have resulted in increased sightings of raccoons during the day.
An animal control officer for Riley County, George Sears says if you see a raccoon during the day leave it alone. He says when they encounter strange-acting raccoons, some of them may be aggressive, but often they’re just sitting back, “or they will just walk a couple of feet,they stumble, they fall down and they sit right back up and they give us what they call the thousand-yard stare, like they are staring out into nothing.”
That stare and overall confusion and instability comes from a degradation in a raccoon’s neurological ability, a side effect of the deadly disease running its course. Canine distemper is not transmittable to people, but it is extremely contagious to dogs, foxes, wolves and coyotes.
Dr. James Carpenter with the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center says it’s vital that your dog is immunized against canine distemper. “They need to contact their veterinarian for the frequency but generally it begins about six weeks of age, they are vaccinated every three to four weeks after that, til they are about 18-20 weeks old. Then vaccinations should be every one to three years, depending on the recommendations of your veterinarian.” He also advised that the public should not permit their dogs to roam free and come in contact with wild raccoons.