Colorado State Publications Blog

Exotic and Prohibited Wildlife in Colorado

Coloradans love their pets, there’s no doubt about that. But did you know that there are some animals that Colorado law prohibits keeping as pets? Wildlife species (unless in the care of a licensed rehabilitation center) cannot be kept in homes or as pets. Wildlife are a “public resource” so cannot be owned by individuals, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), and it’s for the animal’s own good. Wild animals just aren’t wired for domestic living like dogs, cats, and other common pets. Wildlife can carry disease, and they can become frightened, destructive, and even harmful to humans. It is best to leave wildlife in the wild, where they know by instinct how to survive. Even baby animals that appear cuddly can be problematic.
The State of Colorado also prohibits ownership of some exotic species. Monkeys and other primates, exotic pigs, certain kinds of frogs, exotic bovids such as wildebeest and ruminants like oryx, for example, are illegal to possess in Colorado. The reasons certain species are prohibited varies; some are due to the threat of the spread of disease, while others can have damaging effects on native habitat and wildlife populations. American bullfrogs, for example, are not native to Colorado but somebody brought them here and, whether through escaping or being released into the wild, the frogs a have since become significant predators to Colorado’s native leopard frog. Piranhas are another species that have been brought to Colorado and let loose, causing problems for native fish species. See this information from CPW on why you should never turn a pet or lab animal loose.

For a list of prohibited pets and wildlife in Colorado, as well as more information on why wild animals should stay wild, see the CPW’s Exotic Pets and Prohibited Wildlife brochure and visit their “Don’t Domesticate” webpage. Here you can also find information about why you shouldn’t feed wildlife or try to assist an injured animal in your home. Rehabilitation facilities exist for this purpose. They and other similar entities can find information on obtaining special licenses by clicking on this link. Finally, animal import requirements can be found on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s website.
Photos courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado's New "Hot Car" Law

It’s only the beginning of June, but with temperatures already into the 90s, it looks like it’s going to be a very hot summer! With hot temperatures come heat dangers, one of the most significant being the danger of a hot parked car. On a hot day, temperatures inside parked cars can rise to lethal levels in just a matter of minutes, leading to heat stroke and suffocation. Pets are especially vulnerable, so it is never safe to leave a pet alone in a locked car on a hot day, even with the windows cracked.

In 2017, the Colorado General Assembly passed a new law, HB17-1179, which provides “immunity for a person who renders emergency assistance from a locked vehicle” – in other words, making it legal to break into a locked car to rescue a dog or cat, or an at-risk person. (At-risk persons are defined in Colorado law as persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or persons over 70 years of age). This law came about because of citizens’ concerns over the frequency of dogs left in hot cars while the owners were elsewhere. Colorado is now one of 28 states with laws regarding pets left in hot cars. Some counties and municipalities, including Denver, also have their own ordinances regarding protection of pets from the elements. If you are concerned about a pet (or person) locked in a hot car, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Summer heat provides a variety of other dangers to pets in addition to hot cars. Dehydration, sunburn, and hot pavement are also dangerous to pets. Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital offers tips on keeping your pet safe in summer months, including warning signs that your dog is suffering from heat stroke.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Rattlesnakes are Back – Be Cautious

This is the time of year when many Coloradans are looking forward to getting back out on the hiking trails.  It’s also the time of year when rattlesnakes are emerging from hibernation, increasing your chances of encountering rattlesnakes.  In fact, news reports indicate that two hikers have already been bitten by rattlesnakes in Colorado this spring. (Both survived).  If you are hiking with dogs, be especially careful because curious dogs will often explore beyond the trail and might rouse a snake from its nest.

Colorado is home to three kinds of rattlesnakes, the Prairie Rattlesnake, the Western Rattlesnake, and the Massasauga Rattlesnake. Check out the following resources to learn more about Colorado’s rattlers, including tips for avoiding them and what to do if you do encounter a rattlesnake:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Influenza: It's Not Just for Humans

As you work to protect yourself from the flu this season, don’t forget about your pets and livestock.  While animals don’t get our human strains of flu, there are separate strains that can affect different species:

Avian influenza, or bird flu, most often affects waterfowl such as ducks and geese, but these birds can transmit the disease to poultry flocks.  Some strains of bird flu can be transmitted to humans and other mammals, so the disease is closely monitored.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture has information on avian influenza on their website.  You can read more about avian influenza in these publications available from our library:

Canine influenza, or dog flu, was first found in the United States in 2015.  Don’t be fooled by the name; according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats can also be susceptible to dog flu.  Dog flu can be highly contagious so many kennels and pet care facilities now require canine flu vaccinations.  Dog flu is not transmissible to humans.

Equine Influenza usually isn’t fatal to horses, but can still be a problem especially for competition and show horses, who would have to miss events if ill, according to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories.  They have posted equine vaccination guidelines on their website.

Swine Influenza affects pigs but is also thought to be the type of flu that caused the 1918 influenza epidemic.  You can read about it in the article The Zoonotic Potential of Swine Influenza, from CSU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories.  Also see the fact sheet H1N1 Influenza and Pigs and the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Swine Emergency Disease Response Plan.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Holiday Pet Safety

The holidays can mean confusion — or new temptations — for your pets.  Some holiday foods and decorations can be hazardous to your pet.  Other circumstances, like traveling or parties/guests, can stress out our animal friends.  Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital has published some excellent tips for keeping your pets safe and stress-free during the holidays:

Enjoy The Holidays While Keeping Your Pet Safe.  Many traditional holiday foods contain ingredients that are toxic to pets, and this article offers a list of foods to keep away from your pets, as well as decorations that could be hazardous — including poisonous plants (holly, ivy, and mistletoe), Christmas tree water that contains hazardous chemicals or preservative agents, or even small ornaments and tinsel which are attractive to pets, especially cats, but can be hazardous if ingested.  Also in this article you will find tips on how to tell if your pet is under stress.

Watch for Pet Poisons Around Your HomeThis article also discusses poisonous foods and plants, and how you can respond if your pet does eat something he shouldn’t.

Help Pets Avoid Hazards During the Holiday SeasonLike the above articles, this one also discusses poisonous plants and foods, but it also contains tips for keeping pets safe when you have houseguests.

Veterinarians Offer Seasonal Tips to Ease Travel With Pets and Prevent ‘Pupsicles.’  This article is twofold: first, it offers helpful tips for traveling with pets, including what kinds of carriers to use and what items to pack.  Secondly, the article discusses ways to keep pets warm and safe in frigid winter weather (just in time for today’s freezing temperatures!)

To Blanket or Not to Blanket?  This article for horse owners discusses whether, and how best to, blanket your horse on cold, snowy days like today.

Finally, there’s the old debate over whether poinsettias are poisonous to pets.  A fact sheet from the CSU Extension tells us that “poinsettia plants are not harmful to household pets unless the leaves and bracts are eaten in very large quantities. Since cats and puppies frequently chew on new plants introduced in the home, it is prudent to place the plants out of reach.”

Colorado State Publications Blog

Laws Relating to Service Animals

Many people are confused by what legally constitutes a service or assistance animal and how (or if) they need to be marked (such as a vest).  The General Assembly recently enacted a new law that clarifies these issues as well as provides some assistance for ways business owners can deal with customers who try to pass off non-service pets as service animals.  For help understanding the new law, see the Colorado Legislative Council’s Issue Brief entitled Laws Addressing Service Animals and Assistance AnimalsAdditionally, if you have questions about the new law or want to file a complaint, you can contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

‘Tis the season for fires and floods, and if a disaster threatens your home and family, your furry pals will be affected, too.  According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), “one of the biggest reasons people return to danger/evacuation zones is to save their pets.”  DHSEM and the state’s emergency preparedness website,, recently offered some recommendations on helping prepare your pets for an evacuation:

  • Build a Kit. Just like we should do for ourselves, create a 72-hour preparedness kit for your pet. Make sure they have extra food, water, medications and toys in case you are unable to get to a store or are forced to evacuate on short notice. 

  • Have a Plan. Your plan needs to include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination or sheltering options. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities or animal shelters can care for your animals in an emergency. Have a list of phone numbers readily available.

  • Know Your Neighbors. Meet your neighbors before a disaster strikes and develop a neighborhood plan for pet assistance. If a disaster occurs while you are at work or away from home you may need assistance from a neighbor in reaching your pets.

  • Pets Feel Stress Too. When you are stressed, your pet will feel that stress too and they can act out because of this. Having a plan in place for your pet before an emergency will help lessen the stress for both of you.

For further information, see the publications Providing for Pets During Disasters and Animal Issues in Emergency Management, available from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Protect Yourself, Your Pets, and Livestock from Rabies

In 2016, 88 wild animals tested positive for rabies, with possible exposure to 100 pets, 116 livestock animals, and 32 humans, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Most rabies cases are found in bats and skunks; however, rabid foxes and raccoons have occasionally been reported.

So how can you protect yourself and your domestic animals from rabies?  Visit the CDPHE’s Rabies webpage for numerous resources, including brochures and fact sheets; rabies testing protocol; vaccination information; resources and precautions for veterinarians, animal control, and others who work with animals; and more.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture has also published some rabies prevention tips.

Rabies data includes annual statistics back to 2012 as well as maps of occurrences.  Many people think that rabies is more likely to be found in rural areas; these maps illustrate that this is not true — people in the metro area need to be aware of the risk of rabies.  In 2015, for instance, most rabid bats were found in Denver, Arapahoe, and Larimer counties along the I-25 corridor.

Our library has many resources on rabies, including earlier years’ data, and several publications that can provide useful information on protecting yourself, your pets, and livestock.  Selected publications include:

For more resources, visit our library’s online catalog. 

Colorado State Publications Blog

Pet/Animal Cancer Awareness

Many people are not aware that animals can get cancer, too.  So, November 2016 has been designated National Pet Cancer Awareness Month.  You can learn about pet cancer from Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center.  Information from the Center, which is part of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, includes their Top 10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Pet Animals.  Every pet owner should read and remember these signs, especially as their pets age.

The Center focuses on animal cancer research, but also provides animal hospice and emotional support for their humans.  Also part of CSU’s veterinary medicine program is the Argus Institute, which provides counseling and support services relating to pet loss.  Their booklets What Now?  Support for You and Your Companion Animal and Making Decisions When Your Companion Animal is Sick are available for checkout from our library.

For further information, visit CSU’s veterinary medicine homepage or search our library’s online catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Veterinary Medicine in Colorado

Animals are very important to us here in Colorado, from the pets we love to the livestock that work for and feed us.  We have shelter pet license plates and an official state veterinarian.  Various state agencies deal with animal health, including the Colorado Department of Agriculture; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (regarding animal diseases that can affect humans), the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (which oversees the Board of Veterinary Medicine and licensing of veterinarians), and Colorado State University, which has one of the West’s top veterinary medicine programs.

These agencies have produced many informational resources on veterinary medicine and animal health.  Some of the most helpful of these resources, available from our library, include:

  • 2010 Sunset Review, Board of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.  (These are done every 10 years; next will be in 2020.  See also the 2000 review.  See also the animal chiropractors review from 2002.)
  • Animal Use in Veterinary Medical Education, Colorado State University, 2000.
  • Annual Report, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, Colorado State University
  • College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences:  Celebrating 100 Years of Excellence 1907-2007, Colorado State University.
  • Insight, the magazine of Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Lab Lines, newsletter from CSU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories.
  • Providing for Pets During Disasters, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado
  • Report, Orthopaedic Research Center, Colorado State University
  • Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, Colorado State University, 2009

 Our library also has some fascinating historical reports on veterinary medicine and animal care.  See

  • Biennial Report of the State Veterinary Sanitary Board and the State Veterinary Surgeon of the State of Colorado, from 1899-1900.
  • Biennial Report of the Colorado State Bureau of Child and Animal Protection, issues between 1903 and 1928

This is just a small sampling of the many resources on this topic available from our library.  Search our web catalog using terms such as “veterinary medicine” and “animal health.”

Colorado State Publications Blog

Animal Health in Colorado

One of the divisions of the Colorado Department of Agriculture is their Animal Health Division, which is “responsible for animal health and disease control activities in Colorado.”  Their website includes many resources including updates on diseases and conditions such as vasicular stomatitis and avian influenza.  Other resources include tips on controlling predators; information on the Rocky Mountain Regional Animal Health Laboratory; emergency preparedness and response; the Pet Animal Care & Facilities Act; and more.  The website also contains a handy tool for determining the rules for importing animals to Colorado.  Under the Animal Import Requirements section of the homepage, you can match a location with a species to determine the exact rules for importing that species into our state.  You can also select by species to determine the rules for moving animals within the state.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Animal Shelter/Adoption Statistics

Colorado is a state that loves its pets.  We have an “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plate and the shelter pet is our “state pet.”  So if you are looking for statistics on the state’s animal shelters, or the number of dogs, cats, etc. adopted out, visit the PACFA Shelter Outflow Statistics available on the State of Colorado’s Information Marketplace website.  PACFA, the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, is a program of the Colorado Department of Agriculture that oversees the welfare of shelter animals.  If you are considering adopting a pet or farm animal, it is a good idea to check out the shelter where you plan to adopt from, so check out these statistics to find out more about the shelter or rescue that you plan to do business with, and contact PACFA if you have any concerns about a shelter you’ve visited.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Plague in Colorado

This morning the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced that plague had been confirmed in an Adams County resident and their pet dog.  Plague can cause high fever, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting in humans; it can be fatal to pets.  Plague is spread by fleas on rodents, especially prairie dogs.  The CDPHE advises avoiding handling rodents and keeping your dogs and cats away from rodents, alive or dead.  If your pet develops fleas, take them to a veterinarian for treatment.  And if you find dead prairie dogs, don’t try removing them yourself — call a professional.  Our library has several resources you can use to find out more about plague, including the differences between bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague (the latter being the type confirmed in the Adams County resident).  See the following fact sheets:

Also, be sure to visit the CDPHE’s Plague webpage, which includes fact sheets, links to data from the Centers for Disease Control, and statistics on plague in Colorado.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Emergency Care for Pets

SB14-039 has just been signed into law, allowing emergency medical responders to provide emergency care to domesticated animals.  Previously, animals could only be treated by veterinarians, but through the passage of this bill, animals that are, for example, injured in a car accident can be treated on the scene along with their owners.  

Care of pets and other domesticated animals is an important consideration during disasters.  The State of Colorado has published several documents in relation to animal care in disasters and emergencies, including:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Shelter Pets

Are you looking for statistics on the number of pets in shelters in Colorado, and numbers of pet adoptions from shelters?  The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) program has made this data available through the Colorado Information Dataset.  Click here for statistics on the number of dogs, number of cats, number of adoptions, numbers of euthanized pets, and more.  You can also find a map of shelters in Colorado.

Also, did you know that Colorado has an “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plate?  Click here for more information on how you can get one for your vehicle.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Pet Safety During Cold Weather

It’s important to remember your pets’ needs during this week’s below-freezing, single-digit temperatures.  (Brrr!)  The following tips are from a Colorado Dept. of Agriculture media release:

Ø  Keep pets inside. If animals can’t be inside, provide a warm, comfortable place. Face shelter away from wind and provide a flap or door to help keep the animal’s body heat inside.
Ø  Bedding is essential. It insulates the animal from the snow and ice underneath the body and allows the animal to retain heat within the bedding.
Ø  Cats may sleep under the hoods of cars to stay warm. If you have outdoor felines in your neighborhood, check under the hood before starting your car.
Ø  When walking your pet, keep them on leashes; they can’t rely on their sense of smell in the snow and may become lost.
Ø  Wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach after being outdoors to remove any ice, salt or chemicals. 
Ø  Outdoor pets need more calories to produce body heat so extra food and water must be provided. Devices are now available to keep water dishes from freezing; if one is not available, fill and replace water frequently.

The CDA also warns that pets are also susceptible to hypothermia, so be watchful for signs including shivering, listlessness, and body temperature below 97 degrees, followed by collapse and coma.  If your pet shows signs of hypothermia, see a vet immediately.       

Colorado State Publications Blog

Protecting Pets from Coyotes

As the weather cools, pet owners should be more vigilant about protecting their pets from coyotes.  According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, coyotes require more calories during cold weather and also can be seen hunting during daylight hours in the colder months.  The following tips can help pet owners be aware of coyote activity and threats*:

Discouraging Coyotes Near Homes
– Frighten coyotes with loud noises; use unnatural odors (such as ammonia) to clean trashcans.
– Yell and throw things at coyotes whenever you see them near your home.
– Cleanup food attractants such as dog food, garbage and spilled seed beneath birdfeeders.
– Use yard lights with motion detectors – appearance of the sudden light may frighten coyotes away.

Protecting Pets and Children
– Keep pets in fenced areas or kennels; remember split rail fences and invisible fences will not keep your pet safe from predators. Pet kennels and runs should have a fully-enclosed roof.
– Provide human supervision while outdoors, even in your own backyard.
– Do not allow pets (or children) to run loose in areas where there is coyote activity. Keep pets on leash or leave the area when you see a coyote. Most urban areas have leash laws requiring dogs to be under control. Coyotes and foxes are thought to be responsible for many cat disappearances in residential neighborhoods.
– Although rare, coyotes could potentially to injure people. Teach your family not to approach wildlife and never feed wildlife.
– Treat the presence of a coyote as an unfamiliar and potentially threatening dog.

Coyote Encounters
– Rural coyotes are wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible. Urban coyotes seem to be more comfortable around humans.
– Overtly aggressive behavior toward people is not normal and should be reported.
– Never feed or attempt to “tame” a coyote.
– Do not turn your back or run from a coyote.
– If approached or followed by a coyote, make loud noises, yell and make yourself look big.
– If the coyote approaches to an uncomfortably close distance, throw rocks or other objects.
– Report coyote problems to the nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office.

For more information, see this flyer, brochure, and postcard from the Division of Wildlife.  These resources also discuss how to minimize human interactions with coyotes.

Photo by David Hannigan, courtesy of Colorado Division of Wildlife

*this information was originally published in a DOW press release.

Colorado State Publications Blog


Do you own horses?  Colorado horse owners are lucky because we have Colorado State University, which features a world-class veterinary hospital that does a great deal of work with horses.  Below is a selection of CSU publications on horses, available from our library, by topic:


  • A Guide for Successful Competitive Horse Judging






There are many more titles as well so be sure and check our web catalog for further information.

Colorado State Publications Blog


Would you have guessed that the state government has programs that support pet owners and look to the best interest of pets? I was surprised. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has a list of pet food recalls, a guide to understanding pet food labels, and information on how to report animal neglect and cruelty which includes a dangerous dog registry. You might also be interested in the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) Program, a licensing and inspection program dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of those animals in pet care facilities throughout Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Evironment has educational information on rabies with tips on what to do if you or your pet are exposed. They have guidelines on how to prepare for a natural disaster/emergency if you have pets.

The Division of Wildlife provides guidelines on keeping exotic animals as pets, with a list of animals you can own in Colorado.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Prison-Trained Dog Program

Colorado Correctional Industries, a division of the Colorado Department of Corrections, helps prisoners learn valuable job skills during their incarceration, including furniture making and agriculture. One of CCI’s most special programs, however, is their Prison-Trained Dog Program. The program takes rescue dogs and trains them for use both as family pets and as service dogs. The dogs also receive veterinary care. The program also accepts pet dogs for board-in training, which usually lasts about a month. Visit the program’s website to learn more about these special dogs, browse photos of available dogs, and more.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Summer Heat Dangers – Don't Leave your Kids in the Car

It’s now July, the hottest month of the year in Colorado, and if you’re planning on taking a child or pet with you on an errand, never, ever leave them in a parked car, even for a short time. According to the Colorado Dept. of Human Services, cars can reach up to 155 degrees and a child left inside can die of heat stress in as little as 15 minutes. Also, if you see a child left alone in a hot car, call 911 immediately. You can find this and more information at the Dept. of Human Services’ Summer Heat Dangers webpage, which also includes a link to an illustrated diagram and fact sheet from the Denver Post entitled “When Cars Become Coffins.” This information focuses on children, but pets also suffer and can die when left in left in cars. So protect your children and pets during these hot summer months- take them in with you on your errands, or leave them at home.