What to do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk
When a dog gets sprayed by a skunk it’s a pretty unpleasant experience, both for them and their owners. Your immediate response to a skunk sprayed dog will probably be to run far away, but if you love your dog you’ll want to help it and it will probably run after you anyway. So here’s what to do to get your dog smelling like a dog again.
It’s rare that a dog that’s skunk sprayed will be able to sneak by you. If the smell isn’t immediately overwhelming the dogs howling and crying will probably let you know what’s happened. The first thing you’ll want to do is confine the dog somewhere it can’t rub and roll on furniture and rugs. You’ll probably want to make this an outside place. The yard, the garage, the barn or a shed or as a last resort the basement are suggested. And you’ll want to cover your nose while you do it. Then you will probably want to put on some old clothes before you deal with the dog.
As quickly as possible you should check the dog’s eyes. Many times the skunk spray will get in a dogs eyes and it’s extremely painful. The dog’s eyes will be red and watery and he or she will probably be pawing at them. Try to wash the eyes out with plain barely warm water. You could also use eye drops for humans (or dogs), if it doesn’t contain a prescription medicine. The dog may be agitated and in pain so be careful you don’t get bit. Dogs rarely go blind from skunk spray but they are in pain.
Next you will want to mix up this solution.
1 quart of warm water
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide ( found at any drug store)
1 cup of baking soda
2-3 tablespoons of liquid soap. This can be dish or liquid hand soup or even shampoo.
Mix all of this in a bucket just before you plant to use it. Don’t store it in anything that’s capped or sealed or you’ll get an explosion. You’ll probably want to buy enough supplies to make several batches, especially if the dog is large. Don’t make the solution stronger or you may irritate the dogs skin too much or cause its hair to bleach out.
Massage your mixture into the dog’s coat, making sure to get the belly, tail, legs, anywhere the spray may have landed. Cover the dog’s eyes as you work the solution into the head and ears. Do not get this solution in the dog’s eyes! Let the solution sit in the dogs fur for about 5 minutes, then rinse it out with warm water. You’ll probably want do a second wash with the solution, especially if the dog has long dense fur. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the solution out of the dog’s coat. Throw out unused solution, it doesn’t save well.
This solution is slightly irritating to the dog’s skin but it won’t change the color of the fur. You might want to follow with a cream rinse for dogs to smooth the fur. In cold weather you’ll want to wash the dog and let it dry in a warm spot or at least use a hair dryer to get the coat dry. You may notice a slight smell in the next few weeks whenever the dog gets wet. You can do a follow up wash in a week or so with the solution or just use a deodorant shampoo for dogs.
Don’t waste your time washing a skunk sprayed dog with tomato juice, it doesn’t really work. If you get sprayed along with the dog you can use this solution to wash yourself also but be very careful using it on clothing, furniture or other items as it may discolor them. Try a small area first if you are desperate.
Avoiding skunks in the future
Skunks do not like dogs. While a skunk may give a human a pass if they don’t bother it, a dog will almost certainly provoke an unpleasant reaction from a skunk. Skunks are found throughout the United States, in the city as well as the suburbs and country. If not scared they are pretty harmless critters, with only a whiff of odor to show they are near. But surprise or scare a skunk and you will regret it for a long time.
Skunks are usually active at night, but dogs can and do find their resting spots in the daytime and will get sprayed in retaliation. Skunks don’t truly hibernate but spend most of the cold weather sleeping in a snug den. They may come out during warm spells to eat and mate in early spring. They are more active in late fall and early spring and since the days are shorter at this time there is more of a chance that your dog will be out and about when they are.
Healthy skunks do not attack dogs or other animals. They may not seem overly concerned about you if you are without a dog but they will generally move away from you. Any skunk that seems aggressive without being cornered or provoked may have rabies, particularly if it is out in the daytime. You should avoid them and keep pets away. Call your local animal control and report it.
Make sure dogs always have up to date rabies shots. Usually a dog doesn’t get too close to a skunk before it gets sprayed and the spray sends it running. But some dogs will catch the skunk and if it is diseased that can be a big problem. If your dog actually catches and/or kills the skunk talk to a vet about any treatment the dog may need.
If you have seen skunks in your yard it’s a good idea to keep dogs from exploring under porches and sheds and in deep brush areas where skunks may hide. Don’t leave pet food out at night to attract skunks and the mice they like to feed on. Don’t set live traps for skunks unless you are brave enough to transport the animal to a safe release point. Let a professional do it.
If you let your dog roam the countryside freely there’s a good chance it will have at least one encounter with a skunk. If your dog gets sprayed by a skunk it may avoid all skunks and even things that look like skunks in the future but some dogs never learn. If your dog gets sprayed more than once you’ll need to watch him or her carefully when they are outside.
While skunks may do some damage to lawns looking for grubs they are a generally a beneficial animal, eating harmful insects and mice. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.
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