Skunk Spray Health Effects and Getting Rid of Smell

Just about every dog has an encounter with a skunk at one time or another. A seemingly innocent romp into the backyard or a leisurely walk in the forest can turn into a smelly and volatile situation if a skunk suddenly appears in your path. Dogs, of course, will be curious about the cute little creature and may head right their way. What do you do when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk and are there any health consequences to the encounter?

What happens to my dog when they get sprayed?

More often than not, because your dog headed straight for the skunk, the spray goes on the face. Your dog may experience nausea and even vomit from tasting and breathing in the fumes. They may drool and rub at their face, but the worst part of the meeting could be damage to the eyes leading to temporary blindness. The spray can harm the delicate eye and therefore, rinsing of the eyes is the first thing you should do if you suspect your dog was sprayed directly in the face. Use cool water or an eye rinse if you have any in your medicine cabinet. If your dog seems to be in a lot of pain, take them to the vet for a thorough ocular rinse and check-up.

How do I get rid of the skunk smell on my dog?

Skunks are normally docile animals who do not want to meet up with your dog. When they do, they will give warning by hissing and stomping their feet. By the time they have lifted their tail, it is too late to make an exit. Skunks tend to use that smelly defensive option only when they feel threatened. Even a grizzly bear will take heed to a nervous skunk, and the skunk will issue warnings before unleashing that odorous memory. Canines do not seem to have the innate sense that the skunk is an animal they want to avoid.

There are several skunk odor removers on the market but chances are you do not have any on hand right now, when you need it the most. One of the most common ways people attempt to get rid of skunk smell is with this recipe, made with ingredients often found at home:

  • One quart of 3 % hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • One teaspoon of liquid dish soap 

The properties of the peroxide and the baking soda, when mixed together, are what is thought to remove the smell. This concoction must be used while still fizzy in order to perform the best. The spray released from the odorous little critter is comprised of thiols, thioacetates, and oils that work together to create the smell and help it adhere to the skin and fur of the unfortunate target. The peroxide and baking soda oxidize to break down the spray and the dish soap helps to wash the spray from the skin. Be careful when working on the face; do not get any of the solution in the eyes.

You may have to use this remedy more than once, and if not effective you can try a solution purchased from the vet. No matter what product you use, the skunky odor often remains for several weeks and becomes more pungent when your dog gets wet.

How can my dog and I avoid a skunk encounter?

Why do skunks appear in our yards? Grubs, grasshoppers, and beetles are favorites of the skunk, as are rodents and birds. If you are a gardener, skunks will enjoy feeding on your vegetables and the worms found in the rich earth. If you have a compost pile, this may attract the odorous black and white visitor to your yard.

Keep your property free of brush and board up holes that are entry points to a shed or under the deck. Secure garbage cans and do not leave dog or cat food on the porch. While you may not be able to avoid a meet-up with a smelly skunk on a forest trek, you can try to keep them out of your yard by making it less hospitable.

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