Dog Meets Skunk—What To Do

However upset you may be when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, it’s not a medical emergency—even though it may be painful. The dog’s eyes may be irritated and even become temporarily blinded. You may be able to smell the dog a mile away, but think about the poor victim! Your dog must deal with the odor at ground zero. He or she has a sense of smell thousands of times more sensitive than yours.

Hunting dogs are the usual victims, as their foraging takes them deep into the woods. City dogs are not immune, however, as skunks invade urban areas in search of pet food and trash cans. Their spray can reach a target up to 10-15 feet away.

Stay Outside

Dogs that get sprayed by skunks should be kept out of the house until they’re cleaned. Otherwise, you’ll find the whole house permeated by the penetrating smell. When you go outside to clean the dog, wear gloves and old clothes that you can throw away when you’re done.

Protect the Dog’s Eyes

The first step is checking the dog’s eyes. If they’re watering or red, he or she probably took a direct hit. It’s best to use a sterile saline solution, such as that made for contact lenses, to wash the eyes out. If you don’t wear contacts, run hose water gently over the eyes for 5-10 minutes to relieve the sting.

Comb Fur First

Before you get the dog wet all over, comb out the fur—distasteful though the job may be. When water hits any snarls, the clumps of hair turn solid and you’ll have to cut out the mats. To keep the dog still during cleaning, you’ll need to leash him or her to a post or other stationary object.

Skunk Odor Removers

There are a number of skunk odor removers listed on Amazon, rated by customers. Many professional groomers recommend Massengill brand douche (3 oz/gal water) for getting rid of skunk odor. Pour the solution over your pet and allow to soak for 15 minutes before rinsing with plain water. This should be followed with a bath using regular dog shampoo.

Avoiding Skunk Encounters

Skunks are generally mild-mannered creatures, anxious to avoid any confrontation unless their young are threatened. They’d rather back off than attack. Even when a confrontation seems unavoidable, they give plenty of warning, most obviously stamping their front feet. They also raise the tail, hiss, make short forward charges, and finally twist the hind end around and point it in the direction of you or your dog. Unfortunately, dogs by nature tend to ignore these red lights, so it’s important that your dog be leashed or dependably under your control.

If you and your dog meet a skunk, the best thing to do is walk away slowly and quietly. If you’re out of their 10-15 foot range, you can shine a bright flashlight beam on them or make loud threatening noises with objects or your hands.


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