A video of a raccoon behaving strangely taken last night has some Torontonians concerned for the well-being of their pets after several viewers pointed out that the critter is likely suffering from distemper - a disease which dogs and cats can contract. In the video, which was uploaded on Wednesday night to Toronto's Reddit page, the raccoon can be seen walking around aimlessly in a snowy back yard. The Redditor who posted the video noted that the animal appeared to be "blind" or "drunk", which are two common symptoms seen in animals infected with distemper.
"It's more likely to be distemper, not rabies. Distemper's been a problem in the raccoon population for a while. No risk to humans, you can't catch it," writes one viewer. Another person warns that all pets "should be vaccinated for distemper if they go outside."
According to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, "canine distemper" as it is formally known, is a disease that primarily affects skunks and raccoons - both of whom are distant relatives to dogs. Thankfully, most pets are vaccinated and should be safe from the disease. However, it is always best to check with your local veterinarian if you are unsure or concerned.
Here are a few warning signs that pet owners should be on the lookout for:
- Wandering aimlessly.
- Lack of energy.
- Losing balance, appearing “drunk,” or going in a circle
- Approaching people, lack of response, lack of aggression, lack of awareness of surroundings
The raccoon in the video does appear to check off all the boxes, and as it turns out, Toronto is no stranger to outbreaks of distemper amongst the critters. Last year, Toronto Animal Services confirmed that the virus which is often mistaken for the more severe rabies had been spreading among raccoons in the city.
You can click to see the video down below.
This oddly behaving raccoon in my backyard from r/toronto
Unfortunately, there is no cure for distemper if your pet is not vaccinated and becomes exposed to the disease it is only a matter of time before their condition deteriorates.
Pets may manage to survive the initial onslaught of the disease if it is identified early enough, but they will be left neurological conditions for the rest of their lives, animals discovered in the late stages should be humanely euthanized.
Videos of animals suffering from distemper should serve as a reminder to all pet owners to ensure that your pets are always vaccinated adequately for their safety. If you see a raccoon suffering from the disease, please contact the Toronto Wildlife hotline at 416-631-0662.
*Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.