Skunks are solitary creatures, and will go to great lengths to maintain their privacy. Unfortunately, they are also small, furry, and almost irresistible for a lot of dogs. Maybe your dog’s prey instinct is triggered by skunks, or maybe they just want to say hi and play with what they see as a new friend. Either way, dog vs skunk often ends in the same disastrous consequences: Skunk Spray.
Skunk spray is nasty stuff. Obviously it stinks, but it can also burn the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and will stain white or light colored fur yellow due to the sulfur within it.
If your dog is sprayed by a skunk the most important first step is to assess your dog’s health and safety. Assure that the skunk is no longer nearby. Look for choking, gasping, or other respiratory distress in your dog. Flush his eyes with water or a saline eye wash. Examine him for any injuries such as bites or scratches. If you feel that your dog is injured or struggling to breath you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
If your dog escaped unscathed but still smelly, you can follow this recipe to make a skunk spray treatment. More than likely you already have all of the ingredients at home.
First, DO NOT GET THE DOG WET!
Your first inclination may be to spray your dog with the hose or put him in the bathtub. This is the wrong thing to do. Skunk spray is an oily compound. The oil will repel water. Water (especially warm water) may also open the hair follicles and allow the skunk spray to soak into the hair further.
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup of baking soda
1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap
Mix in an open container and use immediately. Dogs often get sprayed in the face and front part of their body. Use care not to put the solution in your dog’s eyes. It is better to use a washcloth or sponge to apply the solution to your dog’s face. Soak your dog with the solution and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes. Allowing it to sit on your dog for longer will make it more effective.
After the solution has been allowed to soak on your dog, you should give him a bath using your normal dog shampoo. I also recommend using a conditioner, as this solution can be quite drying to your dog’s hair and skin.
Do not be surprised if your dog needs this process repeated multiple times to reduce the smell. Also be aware that despite your best efforts, the skunk smell may linger for quite some time, and be more noticeable whenever your dog gets wet.
Finally, consider inspecting your property and making it less inviting to skunks. Identify areas that skunks may choose as a den, such as under porches, under sheds, and in hollow trees or logs. Dead trees and logs also harbor insects, a favorite food of skunks. Reduce or eliminate other food sources by keeping pet food indoors, making sure trash is in a closed container, and securing any outdoor animals you may have such as rabbits or chickens. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Robin Pitoscia is the owner of Diva Dog Grooming LLC, located in Duluth, MN. She has been a professional dog groomer for 15 years, working in a number of grooming salons across the Midwest. In addition to grooming dogs, she also breeds and exhibits Chinese Cresteds in a variety of AKC dog shows and sports. She is a strong advocate for building respectful relationships between humans and dogs through positive reinforcement and an understanding of canine cognition and behavior.