• October 3, 2023

How to Care For a Sick Stray Pet

Before approaching any stray pet – If rabies is an active disease where you live this should always be a concern.  Animals infected with rabies will usually act aggressive or paranoid, they may have a fear of water, and may drool excessively.  Never approach an animal if you think it may be rabid.  If you are bit it is important to report the bite and to have the animal placed on a 10 days rabies hold to determine if it is rabid.

A;ways Report Finding a Stray Pet

The word “stray” means a animal where the owner is unknown.  It may be an abandoned pet, or a lost pet.  The first thing you must do is call your local animal shelter, pound, or SPCA, and report finding the pet.  The shelter will check their “Lost Pets” report and hopefully will get a match.

Taking a pet into your house without reporting that you have found it may be considered theft, so always file a Found Pet report right away.

Let the shelter know the pet appears to be sick.  Since you are not the owner of the animal you may have to follow the shelter’s instructions if you can.  They may ask you to bring the animal to them, or to take it to a veterinarian.  If you are instructed to take it to a veterinarian the animal shelter will pay the cost of vet care for the animal, and will assume ownership of it after 72 hours, unless you request to adopt it if no owner is found.  If you cannot take it to the vet they may send somebody to do so.

Bringing a Sick Stray into your Home

Usually sick stray pet should be taken to the vet or animal shelter, as directed, however there may be times when this is impossible and you may consider bringing the animal into your home.

Caution should be used if you are bringing a sick stray, or any stray, into your home where you have pets of the same species.  Never bring a sick stray pet (or even one that appears healthy) into your home of you have pets that are not fully vaccinated.  Even vaccinated pets are at risk so you should take care that they not be in contact with each other.

It is also risky to bring unfamiliar animals into your home if you have young children.

The sick animal should be confined to a smaller, quiet, room in your house.  It should be given water.  Cats should not get milk.  If you found a cat, and do not have cat food, you may offer it dog food just until you can get cat food.  The same applies if you find a dog, it can eat cat food in an emergency but this should not be a regular diet.  In either case, cooked chicken can be given, or cooked ground beef, avoid giving fish, or ham, to any pet.  Rice (preferrably brown rice) or baby rice pablum, is also okay, but does not have any real nutrition for a cat, who really needs meat.

Some pets will experience an upset stomach from eating foods they are not use to.  They may have diarrhea as a result of eating something different.

Call the veterinarian yourself, some diseases such as Parvo are deadly and you can give the vet the pet’s symptoms and they may suggest how urgent its symptoms sound as to whether or not it needs immediate attetion, or can wait until the following day.

It is not fair to assume you can care for a sick pet that you do not own without proper veterinarian attention.

A sick stray pet should be kept rested, well fed, and given lots to drink.  It should be taken to the animal shelter, or veterinarian, as soon as possible, and especially if its condition worsens.


If you find a stray animal that is sick and do not wish to bring it into your home or yard, you should still try to contact the animal shelter in your area and let them know about the animal, as they may want to catch it to prevent it from spreading illness in the area.

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