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Maria

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Stephanie, Molly's owner, informed me that Molly passed away on Jan 11. Molly had congestive heart failure for the last few years. 
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farmgirl3c

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is this common for skunks? my girl passed with that. she was on lasix for 4 months. someone told me it was her poor diet. i never gave her supplements till it was too late. just good kibble, meat, eggs, cheese and veg
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Maria

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Unfortunately, it happens more often than I would like to hear about. In skunks fed a diet low in quality protein or an unbalanced diet low in bio-available nutrition, this is the number one cause of early death. By early death, I mean in adult skunks, not senior skunks. The senior skunk has to die of something and organs in general wear out with age so I do not include them. All of my seniors had changes in heart function when we did ultrasounds of the heart.  Some had enlarged hearts, some leaking valves and one 12 year old  had a completely abnormal heart structure in shape but the heart was functioning normally.

Kibble is not a species appropriate food for any animal. Kibble can damage the teeth and contribute to plaque build up. In the rescues who come through here that don't get adopted, the ones who were previously fed kibble have more dental issues than those who were not. The average cost of dental here is about $250 so that substantially adds to the cost of annual care. If the plaque is not removed, bacteria can get into the bloodstream and damage the heart. Generally, once you start dentals with a skunk, they need to be done annually as the plaque will come back. Mine are fed a mostly raw diet that helps to keep the teeth clean. Freeze dried raw foods are good too. I also use a enzyme product in their water bowls that is supposed to dissolve plaque. 

I believe there is genetic disposition in male brown skunks to heart disease and would recommend starting a baseline echocardiogram at age 3 and repeated annually. Obesity also plays a role in heart disease as it puts a strain on all the organs. 

When discovered early like during the skunk's annual, you have a better chance of buying time for the skunk. There are supplements that do wonders to support the failing heart. If you choose to go with heart meds like enalapril and lasix, they seem to work best in low doses for the younger skunks who can live for years on them. Older skunks only average about 3 to 4 months on the meds. Eventually the skunk will die from kidney, liver or heart failure.
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