A Stinky Situation
By Tamara Sevigny
Recently I had the unfortunate experience of a skunk spraying outside my front door. Luckily none of our animals were outside at the time, but I do believe that the sound of the dogs barking is what triggered the skunk to spray. Our house smelled as though the skunk had come into our house and sprayed in every room. For a week or so after that, we could tell the skunk kept coming around. The dogs would get upset and start sniffing the air and we could smell him too. After a bit of research, we learned that it was mating season for skunks and they are very active during this time. We were careful to keep the animals inside or close by in a fenced area to avoid any direct confrontation with the skunk.
If your pet does happen to get sprayed by a skunk the most important thing to do is check their eyes, nose and mouth. Skunks tend to aim for the face and the chemicals can cause irritation and inflammation. If inhaled the chemicals can inflame the lining of your pet’s throat and lungs. If sprayed in the face rinse his eyes, nose and mouth out with water. If his eyes look red or he rubs them after rinsing, take him to the veterinarian. The veterinarian can make sure his eyes aren’t damaged and prescribe an ointment to help soothe irritation.
The next step is to get rid of the smell. Soaking your pet in tomato juice does not always do the trick. Instead, use dog or cat shampoo, but the best home remedy to cut down on odor is a mixture made of one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and one cup of baking soda mixed with one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Make sure to rinse him after thoroughly soaking him with the mixture.
There are also commercial products made to remove skunk odor from pets and usually work better than home remedies. There are sprays and shampoos specially formulated to neutralize the foul-smelling chemicals in skunk spray. You can find these at your veterinarian or local pet shop. If you use these products according to their labels your pet should be skunk-free in no time. You may have to cut some of the hair off longhaired pets, particularly if they have tangled or matted hair since it tends to hold the odor.
Avoiding the situation in the first place is the best solution to skunk spray. Keep your pet on a leash or in a fenced yard, especially during mating season. But remember, skunks can be more than just a smelly nuisance, they have sharp teeth and claws and could easily injure your pet in a fight. They even carry diseases that can infect your pet. So keep your pets close by to avoid skunks and other mangy wild animals.