Dogs love to investigate everything in their environment, but this natural curiosity can sometimes lead to trouble. When a skunk is disturbed by a nosy dog, it reacts by releasing a spray of foul-smelling oil right into your dog’s face.
Although it can seem like a disaster when your dog comes bounding home smelling of skunk, there is no need to panic. A skunk attack on your dog can be easily handled by following these few simple steps.
1. Keep the dog outside. The last thing you want is for that skunk stink to be spread around your house. However much your dog might want to retreat to a familiar environment, keep him or her outside until the cleaning process is complete.
2. Wear old clothes. If you have an old set of clothes that you use for doing dirty work, now is the time to put them on. Skunk oils cling to fabric almost as well as they do to fur, so if you don’t want to end up smelling as bad as your dog, keep your regular clothes away from your pet until you’ve finished cleaning up.
3. Wear disposable gloves. Latex or rubber gloves will protect your skin from both the skunk oils and the strong shampoo you will be using to wash your dog’s fur.
4. Wipe the oils off the dog’s face and mouth, using paper towels. Be careful not to spread the oils to other areas of your dog – that will just expand the problem. Most skunk sprays target the face of a curious dog, so generally the face, nose, teeth and gums are where most of the oils are. Check the dog’s eyes: if they look red or irritated, rinse them with cool water. If your dog has any injuries such as bites or scratches from the encounter with the skunk, contact your veterinarian to get them checked out.
5. Shampoo your dog with, if possible, a specially formulated skunk-odor-neutralizing shampoo. Thoroughly work the shampoo into the dog’s fur, avoiding contact with the eyes and mouth. Allow the shampoo to soak in for about 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Repeat if your dog still smells stinky. Skip the traditional tomato juice remedy. It doesn’t work nearly as work as the best specially shampoos, it makes a mess, and may leave your dog stained a rosy pink (although at this point, you probably don’t care). Regular shampoos aren’t going to be very effective, but every little bit helps. We’ve investigated every brand of de-skunking shampoo on the market, and we swear by a brand called “Skunk-Off.” The chemistry behind this product is phenomenal – it doesn’t just wash off the skunk oils, it actually neutralizes the mercaptans in the oil that give it that horrible smell.
If the thought of doing a skunk cleanup yourself makes you gag, a professional mobile groomer can come to your home and take care of the job for you. Hiring a professional means they come stocked with the most effective skunk-odor-neutralizing products on the market. Using a mobile service means you don’t have to put your stinky dog in the car, and risk getting skunk oils on your upholstery.
Once your skunk cleanup is complete, have a word with your dog about the wisdom of avoiding black and white striped critters in the future. And just in case, you might be careful about letting them roam free outside after dark, especially in Spring and Summer, as this seems to be when skunks are most active.