The First Treatment for Shock or Injury: Warm, Dark, and Quiet
If you find an animal that is injured or orphaned, the most important thing you must do is to keep them warm and quiet. Please follow these protocols. Also, refer to our So You Found A…. on species-specific information to make sure that the animal in question is truly orphaned.
Put baby in a shoe box or other small container with several small air holes in the lid and a small non-terrycloth towel, fleece cloth, or t-shirt in the bottom. Tape the lid to keep secure.
Adult animals will need to be put into a dog or cat carrier.
If you have a heating pad, set to low and place the box half on/off the pad, so the animal can move away from the heat if they need to. OR
You can also fill a sock or knee-high pantyhose with uncooked dry rice. Microwave the rice-filled sock for 30 to 60 seconds. This heat source will last about 20 to 30 minutes. Place the rice sock in the container under the towel, and place the baby on or near it, but not directly in contact with the rice sock. OR
Fill a Ziploc bag with warm (not hot) water, put it inside another Ziploc bag, and place under the towel next to the baby. The double bag guards against leaks and prevents the animal from getting wet and chilled.
Do not feed or give them anything to drink. Keeping the animal warm is more important than feeding it.
Check for Dehydration
Pinch test for dehydration:
- Pick up the baby with its belly to your palm. Grasp the nape of the neck.
- Pinch skin – pull up and give a half twist to the right and let go.
- If skin stays tented, the baby is dehydrated. If skin falls back into place, the baby is hydrated and needs to be left alone.
- We’ve provided a picture of a baby bunny that is severely dehydrated for reference.
If the animal is dehydrated…
Do not feed anything else – the wrong formula can cause enteritis, kidney, and/or liver damage.
- 1 qt of water
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- Boil water, mix well, and let cool
- Use an oral syringe or eyedropper and let the animal lick as much as possible every couple of hours
- OR unflavored Pedialyte