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Veterinary Teaching Hospital

As you begin to pull down the holiday decorations from the attic and stock up on holiday treats, keep in mind some of those items may be dangerous for your pets.

Below are some common health hazards for pets during the holidays:

Tinsel, ribbon, and other pretty things

Ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, tinsel, extension cords, and gifts can add to the holiday spirit in your home, but they can also be appealing “chew toys” that may make your pet sick.

Cats, in particular, can’t help themselves when it comes to shiny strands of Christmas tree decor. Although the sight of your cat pawing at the tree may be cute, the ingestion of tinsel can be deadly.

Eating tinsel or other string-like items can cause serious damage to the intestine. One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts. The contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to saw through the intestine. If not caught in time, infection of the belly cavity develops and the prognosis for recovery becomes poor. Pets can become quickly ill, with signs including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain, and fever.

Holiday lights

Decorative lights are another attraction for pets to chew on. Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for your household pets. Electrical shock may occur from defective cords or from pets chewing on them. Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, and evidence of a short circuit. Use grounded three-prong extension cords and strictly follow manufacturer guidelines.

Electrical shock can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death. Call a veterinarian immediately if your pet has been injured by an electrical shock.


Even though they have their own water bowl, there is something enticing about a novel source of water; whether it’s the toilet bowl or the Christmas tree stand. If you add chemicals to the water meant to keep your tree fresh longer, be sure to read the label to make sure it is safe for pets.


Well-intentioned family and friends may share holiday foods with pets, causing the animal to develop an upset stomach or something worse, like pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which can be caused by eating fatty foods. To control excessive food intake by your pets and meet your guests’ desires to feed the pets, dole out the treats your pets would normally receive and let your guests “treat” the pets.


What would the holidays be without boxes of chocolate and warm cocoa in front of the fire? Unfortunately, chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. Chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs, but other species are also susceptible.

The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. Signs that may appear within 1 to 4 hours of eating chocolate include:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, coma
  • Death from abnormal heart rhythm

Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital or the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711 immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate. Have the product label information available when you call your veterinarian. In general, the treatment of poisonings is most effective if started soon after eating the poison and before large amounts are absorbed into the blood.

Poinsettias and mistletoe

Poinsettias have received bad publicity in the past, but they are not very toxic to pets. They do contain a milky sap that can irritate the mouth, but symptoms are usually mild if they develop.

Mistletoe can be very toxic to animals, and you should seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet has potentially ingested any part of the plant. Mistletoe can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock, and death within hours of ingestion.

There are many species of holly (genus Ilex) berries and leaves that can be a problem, although signs of poisonings are generally mild (vomiting, belly pain, and diarrhea).

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

Close up of a cat drinking water.
Photo attribution

What is chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats?

Chronic kidney disease is kidney disease that has been present for months to years. Chronic renal disease, chronic renal failure, and chronic renal insufficiency refer to the same condition.

What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease in pets?

Because the kidneys have so many functions, there are many signs a pet may show when they are not properly working. Chronic kidney disease is progressive, and by the time the pet shows signs, the damage is severe. Despite the chronic nature of the disease, sometimes signs appear suddenly. Common signs include:

  • drinking too much (polydipsia) and urinating large volumes of urine (polyuria)
  • incontinence (leaking urine), especially at night
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • lack of appetite and weight loss
  • general depression related to the elevation of waste products in the blood
  • anemia resulting in pale gums and weakness due to a low blood count
  • overall weakness from low blood potassium

Less common signs include:

  • weakened bones can result in bone fractures
  • high blood pressure can lead to sudden blindness
  • itchy skin from calcium and phosphorous deposits
  • bleeding into the stomach or gut or bruising of skin

What causes chronic kidney disease in pets?

There are many different causes but by the time the animal shows signs of kidney disease, the cause may no longer be apparent. Some potential causes include:

  • congenital malformation of the kidneys (birth defects)
  • chronic bacterial infection of the kidneys with or without kidney stones (pyelonephritis)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diseases associated with the immune system (glomerulonephritis, systemic lupus))
  • acute kidney disease (for example, poisoning with antifreeze that damages the kidneys can lead to chronic kidney disease)

Often the cause of chronic kidney disease is unknown.

How is chronic kidney disease diagnosed?

The signs seen in pets with chronic kidney disease may be seen with many other diseases, so blood and urine tests are needed to make a diagnosis.

Additional tests – such as radiographs, ultrasounds, kidney biopsies, and cultures – may be performed to look for an underlying cause or to “stage” the chronic kidney disease. Staging estimates the severity of the disease. Stages are numbered 1 through 4, with 1 being the least severe.

How is chronic kidney disease in pets treated?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, and it is usually fatal in months to years, but various treatments are available to help keep the pet comfortable and to provide a good quality of life for months to years. The severity of the pet’s signs will determine what treatments are needed. Treatments are designed to reduce the work the kidneys need to perform, to replace substances that may be too low, and to reduce wastes that accumulate.

Pets with severe signs may be hospitalized for fluid and intravenous drug treatment to reduce the amount of waste products in their body. Many pets will feel better in response to treatment with IV fluids, but if the disease is severe, the pet may not respond to treatment. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are additional treatment options.

Pets still eating and not showing severe signs are often treated conservatively, introducing treatments incrementally as new symptoms develop. The initial response to conservative therapy may be relatively slow, taking weeks to months to see improvement.

Feeding of a kidney diet is usually recommended for pets with chronic kidney disease. It is also important to make sure the animal has fresh water available, as pets with kidney disease cannot conserve water by making concentrated urine.

What should I do if my pet is showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease?

If your pet is showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease, you should immediately contact your veterinarian or the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

Golden retriever being prepped for acupuncture therapy.

What is integrative veterinary medicine?

Integrative veterinary medicine is a comprehensive approach to animal health, guided by the best available evidence, that combines complementary therapies with conventional care. 

What therapies are used for pets in integrative medicine?

Hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and laser therapy are three of the more common therapeutic services offered for your pet. All three treatments have been shown to be beneficial in treating a variety of chronic conditions, including osteoarthritis.

What is hydrotherapy and how does it benefit my pet?

Hydrotherapy uses an underwater treadmill to ease pain, increase range of motion, and improve blood flow.

Being in water takes weight off joints and helps the patient move easier. This puts less stress on the joints of a pet that has suffered an injury or is recovering from an operation. For older, arthritic patients, the underwater treadmill can help ease those painful stiff joints and increase mobility.

Hydrotherapy can also be used for weight loss, conditioning, and mental stimulation. Most pets, even those scared of the water, can become comfortable on the underwater treadmill. Animals that are weak from a nerve problem, spinal cord injury, or degenerative condition can often gain or maintain strength using the underwater treadmill.

What is acupuncture and how can it benefit my pet?

Acupuncture can benefit a variety of conditions in pets, including functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, pain, and inflammation.

Acupuncture, a technique practiced in China for thousands of years, involves inserting needles at points where nerves and blood vessels come together to produce a healing response in humans and animals. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated.

The technique has also proven beneficial for animals with arthritis, degenerative joint disease, cancer, metabolic disease, and chronic and neurologic conditions. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is one way of aiding in the flow of Qi (chi). Thought of as vital energy or life force, Qi flows through the body along channels called meridians that run up and down the body.

What is laser therapy and how can it benefit my pet?

Laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure beneficial for osteoarthritic pets. Laser therapy can increase blood flow, limit pain, decrease inflammation, and stimulate and improve healing. Therapy lasers use light energy (photons) to cause beneficial changes within unhealthy cells through a process called photobiomodulation. Without damaging tissues, the laser sends photons into the tissues. This stimulates the cells and repairs damaged cells and tissues. The procedure may take anywhere from 1-10 minutes. Most conditions take four to eight sessions for the best effects, and chronic conditions may require periodic maintenance sessions.

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of osteoarthritis?

If your dog is experiencing osteoarthritis or a similar painful condition call your veterinary clinic or schedule an appointment with one of the integrative medicine veterinarians at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital by calling 509-335-0711.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

Three-legged happy dog outside in the grass.

Can surgery cure my pet of cancer?

Cancer is a scary diagnosis for any pet owner, but there are often surgical treatment options that can improve your pet’s quality of life and, in some cases, even eliminate the cancer.

Is my pet a candidate for cancer surgery?

Whether your pet is a candidate for surgery depends on numerous factors, including the location, type, and grade of the tumor.

The behavior of tumors varies significantly depending on the type. Some tend to grow very invasively, like a plant growing long roots in all directions. Others tend metastasize by spreading to distant places and organs.

An invasive tumor type is ideally removed with at least 1-inch margins in all directions. Sometimes that means surgery often entails amputation if the tumor is located on or near an extremity, such as a limb or a paw. A tumor on the head might require removal of parts of the jaw or an eye to achieve clean margins.

How are tumors diagnosed?

Tissue samples, or biopsies, are often used to diagnose the tumor by histopathological examination before surgery, and diagnostic imagining is a valuable tool in determining the location of tumors and if they are growing close to or even into important organs. X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are frequently used.

From a biopsy, the tumor type can often be clarified and given a grade, or an estimation of the tumor’s aggressiveness.

There are several types of biopsies:

  • Incisional biopsy – One or several little pieces of the tissue are obtained for histopathological examination.
  • Excisional biopsy – The entire tumor is taken out for examination, without or with limited surgical margin. This is in general only done if the likelihood is high the tumor is benign or the tumor is very small. If the tumor turns out to be malignant with a high likelihood of cancer cell invasion beyond what was removed, it can be much more difficult to define the appropriate margins in a follow-up surgery.
  • After tumor type is diagnosed, these surgeries are considered based on how much margin the surgeon can remove:
  • Intracapsular resection (cyto-reductive surgery or debulking) – A portion of the tumor is removed but some visible tumor is left behind. This is in general done due to the presence of important, non-resectable organs close to the tumor. Radiation is usually recommended after or before an intracapsular resection.
  • Marginal resection – The tumor is removed without margin, leaving microscopic tumor behind. Additional treatment is usually necessary.
  • Wide resection – A margin of visibly normal tissue is resected together with the tumor to minimize the risk of leaving behind tumor cells. This is the most common type of surgery when surgery is used as the only treatment for cancer. Many cancer types of low or intermediate grade can be successfully removed this way. A wide resection often entails wound reconstruction to enable closure of the wound or to ensure normal function.
  • Radical resection – The entire structure the tumor is growing in is removed. This is commonly the case when amputation is an option, but it is difficult when located in areas other than extremities.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

Siamese cat drinking from a puddle on a driveway.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to animals and can cause fatal kidney failure. Unfortunately, dogs and cats find the liquid quite tasty and will eagerly drink it up when given the chance.

What should I do if my pet ingests antifreeze?

Contact a veterinarian immediately if you see your pet drinking antifreeze or suspect it had access to antifreeze. Very small amounts of antifreeze can be fatal.

For example, a cat can ingest a fatal amount of antifreeze by simply licking its paws after walking through a puddle of the chemical. Five tablespoons are enough to kill a medium-sized dog.

If you suspect your animal has ingested antifreeze, staff at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital are available for emergencies 24/7 and can be reached at 509-335-0711.

What are the signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats?

Signs of antifreeze poisoning depend upon the time after ingestion. In the first hours after ingestion, the pet may be depressed, stagger when moving, and have seizures. They may drink lots of water, urinate large amounts, and vomit.

The pet may appear to feel better only to get much worse a day or two later as its kidneys fail. Signs of kidney failure include depression and vomiting. The amount of urine they pass will often decrease to a very small amount.

How is antifreeze poisoning in pets diagnosed?

The diagnosis of antifreeze poisoning is made by blood and urine tests, although some of these tests will show negatives by the time kidney failure develops. Antifreeze poisoning should be considered in any free-roaming dog or cat with consistent signs.

How is antifreeze poisoning in pets treated?

Treatment for antifreeze poisoning needs to be started as soon after ingestion as possible to be effective. The earlier treatment is started, the greater the chance of survival. Once kidney failure develops, most animals will die.

If the pet is seen within a few hours of ingesting antifreeze, vomiting is induced to remove any antifreeze still in the stomach, and charcoal is placed in the stomach to bind antifreeze in the intestine. Antifreeze itself is not very toxic but it is broken down by the liver to other components that cause the damage. If the pet is presented to a veterinarian soon after drinking antifreeze, a drug is given that impairs the liver from converting antifreeze to these toxic products, allowing the unconverted antifreeze to pass in the urine. These drugs are useful only when given early and are not effective after the pet is showing signs of kidney damage.

Animals that present to a veterinarian in kidney failure due to antifreeze poisoning can occasionally be saved with aggressive treatment. Some specialty veterinary practices offer dialysis that can be used to eliminate waste products not being removed by the diseased kidneys to keep the pet alive and give the kidneys a chance to repair. Whether the kidneys will repair themselves or not depends on how severely they are injured. Unfortunately, kidney damage caused by antifreeze is usually severe and irreversible. Kidney transplantation has been performed in dogs and cats.

How can I prevent antifreeze poisoning?

There are several steps you can take to protect your pets from being poisoned by antifreeze.

  • Keep new and used antifreeze in a sealed, leak-proof container
  • Take used antifreeze to a service station for disposal – don’t pour it on the ground
  • Check driveways for puddles of antifreeze that may have leaked from the car
  • Consider the use of alternative antifreeze products that are less toxic to pets
  • If antifreeze is placed in toilets make sure the lid is down and the door to the room is closed

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or proc

Dog prepped and beginning have an MRI performed.

What should I do if my dog or cat is having a seizure?

If your pet is having a seizure, remain calm. Note the time the seizure started and how long it lasted, as this information could be helpful to your veterinarian.

To prevent your animal from hurting itself, attempt to move it away from hard objects like stairs and furniture. Cushion its head and gently hold and comfort it until it begins to regain consciousness.

Always call a veterinarian after your pet has a seizure. The WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital can be reached at 509-335-0711.

Seizures can be generalized, affecting the entire body and usually lasting several seconds to a couple of minutes, or remaining localized to one body region and usually lasting a couple of seconds.

Most commonly, animals will fall to their side and make paddling movements with their limbs. They will often urinate, salivate, and defecate during the episodes. Seizures may start in one region of the body and then the entire body. 

What causes seizures in dogs and cats?

There are several reasons a dog may have a seizure, but most are from primary brain disease (intracranial) or a disturbance outside the brain (extracranial).

Intracranial causes of seizures may include structural disease, such as hydrocephalus, head trauma, inflammatory brain disease (encephalitis), strokes, and neoplasia (brain cancer).

Poison and metabolic diseases are the most common extracranial causes. Metabolic diseases include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), liver disease, kidney disease, electrolyte disturbances, toxins (poisons), and anemia.

Idiopathic epilepsy is another common cause of seizures in dogs. These are seizures of unknown cause. These episodes are thought to be due to “mal-wiring” within the brain. Idiopathic epilepsy is seen in dogs between the ages of 6 months and 6 years of age. It is more common in certain breeds like border collies, Australian shepherds, Labrador retrievers, beagles, Belgian Tervurens, collies, and German shepherds, however, it can occur in any breed of dog or cat.

To determine the cause of seizures, your veterinarian may recommend physical and neurologic exams, blood work, checking blood pressure, sometimes chest X-rays, liver function tests, or brain imaging such as CT scan or MRI.

How are seizures in dogs treated?

If an underlying disease is found, treating the disease may help make the seizures stop. If the seizures are recurrent, anticonvulsant medications are often given.

The choice of medication, such as anticonvulsants, depends upon the characteristics of the animal’s problem. It is important to remember that once your pet begins taking an anticonvulsant, it should not be changed without consulting with your veterinarian. Most animals with idiopathic epilepsy will require anticonvulsant medication for the rest of their lives.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary passing of urine, is a fairly common problem in dogs. It is usually caused by a medical condition, and your dog likely is not aware it’s happening.

Although it can happen at any age, it is more common in middle- to senior-aged dogs and females. Severity can range from small leaks to the voiding of a large amount of urine.

What causes urinary incontinence in dogs?

Pets can be incontinent for many reasons, including abnormalities in parts of the brain and spinal cord that control bladder function, birth defects, and disease. As pets age, they may become incontinent because muscles that hold urine in the bladder weaken.

Incontinence in young animals is often caused by a birth defect known as ectopic ureter(s). The ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and if one or both ureters bypass the bladder and connect to an abnormal location, such as the urethra or vagina, the puppy may drip urine.

Hormone-responsive incontinence occurs in neutered dogs of both sexes but most commonly in female dogs. The pet can urinate normally, but they leak urine while resting. Hormone-responsive incontinence can occur months to years after a pet is neutered.

Dogs with brain or spinal cord disease may either dribble urine or be unable to pass urine. Most often they will have other signs of nervous system disease, such as muscle weakness or paralysis.

Vulvovaginal stenosis, a condition in which the vagina at the level where the urethra ends is narrowed, is a less common cause of incontinence in female dogs. Occasionally when the pet urinates, some urine will get trapped in the vagina in front of this narrowed area. Then when they rise after lying down the urine pours out.

Older pets can also develop senility and simply be unaware they are dribbling urine.

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed in dogs?

Incontinence can be confused with diseases and infections that cause a pet to urinate frequently. The tests performed to evaluate a pet with incontinence depend upon the age of the pet and clinical signs.

A dye study of the bladder is usually performed, and it is common to collect a urine sample for bacterial culture and to see if the urine is dilute or shows evidence of an infection that could be the cause of incontinence.

Blood tests can detect evidence of kidney damage from infection or for the presence of diseases that might lead to increased urine production.

X-rays or ultrasounds may be used to look at the parts of the urinary tract.

Is urinary incontinence different than a bladder infection?

A bladder infection can cause a strong urge to urinate, but the animal is usually not truly incontinent since they know they are urinating. It is common to evaluate incontinent pets for the presence of a bladder infection.

How is urinary incontinence in dogs treated?

Urinary incontinence in dogs can often be successfully treated or managed with surgery and medications.

Specific treatment of an underlying disease or condition with surgery or medications may resolve incontinence. When no specific cause can be identified for the incontinence, drugs may be given that increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Drug therapy for incontinence may be based on a trial of different drugs in various doses until an effective combination is identified.

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of urinary incontinence?

If your dog is exhibiting any signs of urinary incontinence, you should call your veterinary clinic or schedule an appointment with one of the internal medicine veterinarians at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital by calling 509-335-0711.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Blue green algae never the shore.
Photo credit

As temperatures climb during the summer months, conditions can become ripe in waterways to produce toxic blue-green algae – or cyanobacterial – blooms that can be deadly to pets, with animals often dying within 15-20 minutes after exposure.

Animals can be exposed to blue-green algae and its toxins by simply contacting any affected water body, including ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, or even residential decorative ponds and neglected swimming pools.

What are blue-green algae?

Cyanobacteria, also referred to as blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms that live in fresh bodies of water that usually multiply and bloom when water is warm, stagnant, and rich in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from sources such as fertilizer runoff.

The toxins that cyanobacteria produce come in four types and can be very deadly. The toxins can specifically affect the liver, the kidneys and liver together, the nervous system, or the skin.

How do I know if water is contaminated with blue-green algae?

It is impossible to tell whether a given body of water has a toxic bloom currently without sophisticated testing. During warmer months, it is best to assume all surface waters are potentially contaminated.

Sometimes, blooms will present as thick, gooey, green slime on and in surface waters and eddies of running waters. Blooms can also be red or brown.

Often, concentrations will occur in just one part of a waterway.

Dead fish, waterfowl, or other animals around a water source may indicate the presence of blue-green algae.

What are the symptoms for an animal exposed to blue-green algae?

Signs of poisoning usually occur within 15-20 minutes after ingestion. Symptoms can include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
  • Weakness
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Difficulty breathing

What should I do if I think my pet may have been exposed?

Immediately contact your vet or the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711.

The time from exposure to death can be mere minutes to hours without aggressive and experienced veterinary intervention.

How can I protect my pet from blue-green algae?

To reduce the chance of your pet being exposed to blue-green algae:

  • A good rule of thumb for you and your pet is: When in Doubt, Stay Out!
  • Don’t let animals swim or drink where there is noticeable algae in the water or scum on the shore.
  • If pets swam in water that could have harmful algae, rinse them off with fresh water immediately. Don’t let them lick their fur.
  • If your pet experiences any symptoms after exposure to algae, contact your veterinarian immediately.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

It is easy to mistake healthy wildlife for one that may be orphaned or injured. The only time you should intervene with a wild animal is if it is clearly sick or injured, or if you are certain the parent is dead.

Two fawns under the care of WSU's exotic staff.

What I should do when I come across injured or possibly abandoned wildlife?

Always contact your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possibleideally before intervening. Calling ahead allows a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to assess the situation and help to ensure the animal needs intervention. They can also provide important tips for safe handling and transport.

How do I contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator?

Through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website anyone in the state can locate contact information for the nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator. You can also call the Washington State University wildlife service at 509-335-0711.

What to do if you find a lone deer fawn?

Young fawns in hiding are often mistaken as orphaned. Young deer fawns are left alone for long periods of time while their mother is out grazing. During this period the mother will visit the fawn a couple of times a day to feed and move it, and so it is important that they be left where they are found unless obviously sick, injured, or you are certain the mother is dead.

What to do if you come across a bunny nest?

Bunny nests are often hidden in plain sight. Mother rabbits will leave their young while they forage and only visit their young a couple of times during the day. If you find a nest, please keep pets and children away and leave it as is. If the nest appears to have been disturbed or the babies appear injured, call your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

What do I do if I come across a fallen nest?

The first thing you should do is keep all pets and children away. Replace fallen bird nests as high in the tree/bush that they came from as you can. You can observe from a distance to see if the parents return. Many mammals such as squirrels, foxes, and raccoons, have the ability to move their young to a second nest site. Make sure the babies are not in immediate danger, and then give mom several hours come back to move her babies. If the babies appear to be injured, or if mom does not return, call your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

What can I do if a baby bird falls out of a nest?

Fun fact: It is a myth that wildlife mothers will abandon their young if they are touched by a human and smell different. Many uninjured fallen bird nestlings can be placed back in their nest or in a replacement nest nearby so the mother can find her chicks. Be sure to contact your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator before intervening as many factors including age, species, and location determine whether a reunite will be successful.