My dog has been sprayed by a skunk!
“Help! My dog has been skunked!” In our world, this type of call is a pet grooming emergency. Like most emergency situations, it's best avoided by taking preventative measures. If it's too late for that, then keep your dog out of the house until you can get them cleaned up. Otherwise those smelly skunk oils that are making your furry friend miserable and unloveable could very easily get transferred from your dog's fur onto your carpet & furnishings. For doggie cleanup, either call a professional groomer or do it yourself as best possible.
Professional groomers will have access to odor neutralizing formulations that actually break down the mercaptans that make the skunk oils smell so very bad. If take on the job yourself, skip the old folk remedies like tomato juice, baking soda & vinegar formulations, etc. In our experience it's a lot of mess for very little benefit. Repeated bathing with regular dog shampoo will make your pet more tolerable, but only time or mercaptan-neutralizing chemistry will make the smell go away. Keep in mind that most of a skunk's spray is usually aimed at your dog's face, so a lot of those oils are going to be on his gums and the mucous membranes of his nasal passages. You don't want to put shampoo in those places! When using a professional groomer, a mobile service is best, since you don't want to have to put your smelly pet in the car, possibly transferring skunk oils to the upholstery.
What do you need to know about skunks?
In San Diego, skunks often live in our canyons, where they hide during the day in a burrow or a den. In our urban landscape, you may also find skunks have moved into that unused shed in your backyard, or even under your deck. In this case, call a pest removal company to trap the creature and remove it humanely.
Skunks are generally nocturnal creatures. They are not usually seen out during the day and when they are, they may be ill, so keep your distance and observe carefully. We humans most often encounter skunks at dusk or dawn, but your dog, if left outside at night, may run into them at all hours.
Interesting factoid: human brains are wired to dislike skunk smell so much that the odor will often wake a sleeping person! (And that's without the aid of the fierce growling and barking that often accompanies a dog-skunk encounter.)
How can I prevent my dog from getting skunked?
1.If your property is on the edge of or close to one of San Diego's many canyons, be aware that you will need to be extra careful with regard to skunks. Don't make your property attractive to skunks.
2. Feed and water your pets indoors. Don't share your pet's food with the wildlife by leaving it outside. If you feel you must feed your pet outdoors, put away any leftovers as soon as mealtime is over. Clean the pet dish thoroughly.
3. Maintain your yard, garden and structures carefully. Hidden holes and quiet nooks have skunk appeal as potential den sites.
4. Keep your dogs indoors at night, when skunks are most likely to be active. Normal, healthy skunks aren't on the prowl looking to attack your dog, but they don't respect property boundaries either. Fences don't mean a lot to a skunk. If a skunk feels threatened, their natural response is to spray what is scaring them. Your dog may only want to play, or maybe your dog is one that will bark and lunge at a skunk, thinking he is protecting his people and property from the intruder. Either way turns out the same -- your dog gets a snoot full of horrible smelling, eye-stinging skunk spray. Preventing this type of unfortunate encounter between the local wildlife and your pets is worth a little extra effort!
If the worst does happen, call a professional pest removal company to remove the skunk if it is still around. And consult a professional groomer or emergency veterinarian about how to get the stink off of your dog.