What to do if your dog's been skunked

Spring brings us pretty flowers, chirping birds, and litters of kittens that come from roaming unneutered cats. Other wildlife comes out of their winter nests to forage for food and mating too. Typically this activity is at a peak in early spring and fall when the weather is warmer.

One of the most active critters that we see or smell the entire spring and summer season is the little black-and-white varmint known as a skunk. They are typically active at dawn and dusk. 

No matter their size, skunks can secrete from their specialized anal sacs for several feet a potent and foul smelling oil that sometimes can be harmful – even deadly – to dogs if the spray gets in their eyes, nose or throat. Skunks have tested positive for rabies in the United States and Canada. This is another well-documented reason why our pets need to be current on immunizations.

Save yourself the stress and mess of using tomato juice, vinegar, pretty smelling soaps or shampoo. There are three safe and effective products to have on hand for a veterinarian-approved recipe you can make in your own kitchen to neutralize the skunk spray on your dog. Simply mix together 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon Dawn liquid dishwashing soap, and 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.

Do not put this product in the eyes, nose or mouth of the dog. Clothing, dog fur and cleaning areas/items could slightly change colors from the peroxide. Use this mixture immediately and do not store it.

Have dog-safe eyewash products on hand. Commercial pet-bathing products and going to a professional groomer are effective for helping to neutralize the lingering smell on the dog's fur and skin. Use only commercial cleaning products for your clothes and furnishings.

The American Kennel Club recommends keeping and bathing your dog outside. Check your dog's eyes. If you do not have dog eyewash products flush your dog's eyes with cool water.

After bathing your dog in the baking soda/dish soap/peroxide mixture rinse thoroughly and use regular dog shampoo or baby shampoo to leave your dog smelling clean. Towel dry your dog and if possible let the dog finish drying in a warm room.

Do not be reluctant to contact your local animal hospital to determine if your dog's eyes, nose or throat are impacted by this skunk episode. It can be harmful and even deadly.

When walking your dog on a leash during active skunk seasons avoid bushes, ground coverings like myrtle and pachysandra and wooded areas. Use a leash length appropriate to your dog's size and reconsider if a retractable leash is favorable. Watch your dog's body language and hopefully you can avoid a not-so-nice encounter with a neighborhood Pepé Le Pew!

Nancy Brown

Nancy Brown

Owner, Hot Diggity Dog, Inc.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:29 AM, 06.04.2019