What Do I Do If My Dog Gets Skunked?
What Do I Do If My Dog Gets Skunked?
The old adage is that curiosity killed the cat, but dog owners can probably attest to the number of times that curiosity has landed their pup in some sticky (or in this case, stinky) situations.
What is Skunk Spray?
Skunk spray is an oil produced by the anal glands of the skunk to defend against predators and contains sulfurous chemicals called thiols or thioacetates. Most thiols bind to proteins in your dog’s skin, causing a persistent odor. Thioacetates aren’t as potent as thiols, but they become thiols when mixed with water, so don’t throw your dog in the bath right away! They are readily converted into thiols when they are mixed with water.
If your dog gets a little too up close and personal with a skunk, don’t panic. Follow these tips to get rid of the smell quickly and effectively.
Do NOT Take Your Dog Inside
First things first: if your dog got skunked, your first instinct is probably to get them inside and in the bathtub. DON’T DO THIS.
The skunky smell can quickly permeate your home and household fabrics, lingering in your house even after your pup is clean. Your best bet is to treat your dog outside. Make sure you wear old clothes and gloves to prevent the smell from transferring to your skin.
Gather your cleaning supplies and get to work … outside of your home.
Assess the Situation
Before you get to washing, check your dog’s face for irritation. The oils in skunk spray can be very irritating to your dog’s eyes. If your dog gets skunked, check their eyes for any redness or irritation and immediately flush their eyes with cool, clean water.
While it’s unlikely due to the range a skunk can spray from, it’s also important to check for any scratches or bites they may have if they managed to get close to the skunk. If you notice any injuries, take your dog to the vet immediately.
De-Skunking Your Dog
Now comes the time to actually remove the skunk stink from your pup. Keep in mind that the goal is to get the skunk’s oil off of your dog quickly.
While you may be thinking that tomato juice is the answer, that common household remedy has had limited success.
The best option is to use a commercial-grade skunk removing treatment. You can normally purchase these from your vet or local pet supply store. Be sure to ask your vet to see which product they recommend.
If you’re dealing with a skunk situation outside of your vet or pet store’s working hours (which is what always seems to happen), don’t fret — there is still hope.
Homemade Solution to Get Rid of Skunk Smell
In order to get the skunk smell off of your dog, use this DIY remedy.
- Mix the following ingredients in a bowl:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap
- Wearing rubber gloves, massage the solution into your dog’s fur.
- If your dog got sprayed in the face, use a washcloth to wipe their face, avoiding their eyes and mouth.
- Let sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Rinse completely.
- Repeat as necessary until smell is gone.
- When finished, wash your dog with their normal pet shampoo.
When using this method, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Don’t use a hydrogen peroxide solution stronger than 3%, as it can irritate your dog’s skin.
- Be very careful not to get the solution in your dog’s eyes.
- Don’t leave the mixture on your dog’s coat for too long, as the peroxide may bleach your dog’s fur. This will be especially noticeable in dogs with dark fur.
- Do not store the mixture. Use it immediately and dispose of any excess.
Once your pup is clean, let them air dry in an open area. If you have any skunk smell on your clothes, wash them in regular detergent plus a half cup of baking soda to remove the smell.
Watch your dog closely over the next few days and keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Skunk spray can sometimes cause skin or other medical issues. You should also make sure that your pet is up to date on its vaccines, as skunks are known carriers of rabies.
Avoid Pepé Le Pew in the Future
Dogs are naturally curious, and skunks are a common critter, so there’s no foolproof method to avoid this situation from happening again. However, there are some ways to reduce your risk of running into a skunk.
Skunks are nocturnal, so they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk. Try to avoid letting your dog out during those times of day.
If you tend to let your dog out into your yard rather than walking them around the neighborhood, take steps to make your yard less appealing to skunks. Don’t leave food or garbage readily available and block access to your porch or shed to prevent them from taking up residence.
Skunk sprays happen, so your best option is to be prepared to handle the situation. Make sure you keep the supplies mentioned above on hand or, better yet, talk to your vet about their recommended commercial grade treatment and stock up on it.
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