Fido is out in the backyard and suddenly a black and white animal appears. Curious Fido goes up to the intruder only to be met with a spray from a tail-raised skunk. The smell is overwhelming and you immediately think to reach for tomato juice to relieve it. However, there are many remedies that will work with items you probably have in your pantry, or will after reading this.
Skunks are most active at dawn and dust in warmer months. They will forage for food then, but sometimes during the day. They make their home under decks, crawl spaces, dead tree stumps, and abandoned buildings. Sometimes you are alerted to the presence of a skunk because they sprayed in the area. Other times, they appear without warning.
The most common area sprayed on a dog is their head and chest. If the vial smelling spray gets into your dogs eyes or mouth, bring him to a vet immediately. It is not toxic but can cause temporary blindness. The oil-like spray can cause vomiting and nausea if swallowed. It will feel like tear gas if it gets into the eyes. Damage to the cornea can occur, so seek professional help.
If Fido seems to be acting fine and did not get a direct spray in the face, you can remove the revolting smell at home. Tomato juice is an “old wives tale” that many pet parents have claimed does not work. It only makes more of a mess. There are many over-the-counter products that you can buy that will chemically neutralize the smell.
Hazel Christiansen, a professional groomer in Idaho and former president of the American Grooming Shop Association, suggests mixing a cup of vanilla extract with a gallon of water. Then apply to your dog and allow him to soak for 10 minutes. Then rinse with dog shampoo.
Another option would be to pull out the vinegar. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar. The amount you need to make will depend on the size of your dog. Rinse your dog with water and then apply the mixture. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Be care to avoid the eyes as vinegar will sting them.
The most popular at-home remedy involves, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid dish soap. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) instructs, “Mix together:
1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (available at any pharmacy)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap
Wearing rubber gloves, wash your dog with this solution immediately after they’ve been sprayed. DO NOT get the solution in their eyes. Caution: Do NOT store this mixture or make it ahead of time, as the mixture could explode if left in a bottle.”
After this solution soaks for a few minutes, rinse thoroughly and then wash with a dog shampoo. The peroxide can bleach fur, so use with caution.
If it is the middle of the night, which is usually when things happen to our dogs, and Fido just got sprayed, check his eyes. If they are red or irritated, HSUS suggests you flush them with cool water. Then you can call your vet in the morning.
Aside from the awful smell of skunk spray, they are carriers of rabies. So it is important you do everything you can to avoid an encounter. Skunks are generally docile and will not spray unless they feel threatened. Keep your eyes and nose on alert when you let Fido out, and hopefully you will never need to use one of the above remedies.