By Marion O’Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

When I say that it's a nightmare when your dog gets skunked, that's the stinking truth. Now, multiply that by two, two Labs, that is. It happened when I let my two dogs out for their final pee that night; I had no inkling that there was imminent danger lurking in my back yard. I have learned a lot from my mistakes, my dogs… not so much. My silly Lab Sally got skunked twice. After Shadow gave her quick “woof” to let me know that her and Sally were all done with their business is when all hell broke loose. I opened the front door, but before I could say “good girls”, Sally barreled her way through the front door, almost knocking me over in the process. As fast as lightning she bee-lined it up the stairs. “Oh no, I didn’t” ran right through my brain as I got a whiff of that stench. I’m not exactly sure why, but Shadow didn’t seemed too fazed by the stinking attack from the pretty little kitty with the white stripes. Before that night the only skunk I had ever smelled was a dead skunk. Did you know fresh skunk smells very differently than aged skunk? Fresh skunk emissions smell more on the oniony side mixed with a pungent blast of burnt plastic or rubber. The more it ages it changes to that stagnant, but familiar, smell of roadkill. The Skunk is also known as a Pole Cat or the Latin word “mephitis” which means “obnoxious vapor.” The French Canadians called them enfant du diable or “child of the devil.” The Striped Skunk belongs to the mustelid family (weasels, ferrets and otters). These waddling varmints can top out at 10 miles mph. A kit’s (baby skunk) scent glands are fully functioning one week before their eyes begin to open. A skunk is armed with two nozzle-like scent glands just under the rectum. If threatened, the skunk will drum his front feet on the ground like a two-year old having a temper tantrum. He purrs (similar to a growl) while arching his back and can shoot an accurate 12-foot sulfuric oil based stream in any direction toward his predator. If that isn’t enough to thwart off a predator, he has enough reserved ammunition for five to six more sprays. If you find your pooch has been sprayed, these things won’t help you: plain water is impotent, soap is useless on its own, mouthwash, or the biggest old wives’ tale – tomato juice. The fact is that tomato juice doesn’t work. It leaves your dog stinking, but with a beautiful pink hue. If the remaining juice is not fully rinsed off, it could attract unwanted insects. There’s also a good chance your dog could shake the juice all over the bathroom. Yikes! I’m having visions of blood-stained walls from the scene in the horror movie “Psycho.” There are a couple of commercial skunk odor removers available at most pet supply stores: Nature’s Miracle or Skunk Off. We all know that skunks are nocturnal, so in your hour of need remember most stores will be closed. The best thing to do is be prepared ahead of time. Have a plan of attack by making a skunk kit now. You might want to save this article for future reference. Always talk to your veterinarian about your dog being sprayed. Skunks are known to carry different diseases, including rabies. By far the best remedy for skunk odor was created in the 90’s by Paul Krebaum, a chemist from Illinois. 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide. It must be a fresh unopened bottle. ¼ cup baking powder 1-2 teaspoon of liquid soap, preferably Dawn for its grease-cutting properties. 1 pair of latex or plastic gloves. Combine the ingredients in an open container. Warning! Do not store in a sealed bottle or container, this mixture will explode. Keep the mixture away from your dog’s face and eyes (it’s a harsh solution). If your dog has been sprayed in the face, try a tricotine liquid douche concentrate or any over the counter douche. Also the eyes can be flushed with saline solution and mineral oil applied to the eyes to avoid stinging or redness from the bath. The mineral oil can be removed afterward by flushing with saline solution. The nostrils and mouth can be wiped with a paper towel or cotton balls soaked in the saline solution. Milk is reportedly an effective way to treat the eyes and face that were affected by the spray. Pet Advisor (www.petadvisor.com) offers a nine step Plan of Attack. The Plan of Attack 1. Do not wait to clean your pet. The longer the skunk spray stays on your dog or cat, the more time it has to dry and seep in further. 2. Contain the stink! If your dog is outdoors and you are able to wash him outside, keep him there. If the pet is indoors, get him into a bathroom immediately. Use a leash and do not allow him to touch any furnishings. 3. Change your clothes into something you don’t mind ruining, and get the supplies and latex gloves ready. 4. Using paper towels, try to soak up as much of the spray as possible (cloth or cotton towels may retain the smell). Wipe only the affected area so the oil does not spread. 5. Mix the solution in an open container. You didn’t forget, did you? Never use a closed container. 6. If your pet’s collar is fabric or cloth and also affected by the skunk spray, leave it on for the bath. 7. Apply the mixture directly to the area most affected while avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth. Allow it to sit for at least five minutes. If your pet has long fur and it is possible to completely remove the affected area by cutting or trimming the fur, this is another option. 8. Rinse off the solution thoroughly with warm water and wash the animal with its regular pet shampoo. Rinse and dry. 9. Pour any remaining solution down the drain. Remember, do not store any leftover solution. If more treatments are needed, mix another batch of the solution for each treatment. Back to my skunk story. My night of havoc didn't end with a simple dog bath. I finally found my scared and shaking Sally in my bedroom under my bed. #$^%@)*! Not only did I have two stinky dogs I now had a stinky house, too! These suggestions may help to remove skunk odor from your house. If you can, open up the windows and turn on the fans. You can sprinkle baking soda on carpets and allow to sit overnight before vacuuming. Using several ceramic or glass bowls, fill with cotton balls saturated with real vanilla extract, bleach, apple cider vinegar (organic is best) or fresh coffee grounds and place the bowls around the house (out of reach of pets or children) to soak up the odor. Unfortunately, the lingering scent of skunk will resurface when your dog gets wet for several months up to a year after being sprayed. Skunks live everywhere, not only in a country setting. Even people who live in town might want to look under their decks or porches with caution. Try not to give a skunk a reason to come visit your backyard, or worse, take up residency. Remember to bring in outdoor animal or cat food at night. Skunks like to eat fresh fallen fruit or vegetables. Cutting back your overgrown shrubs or stacking firewood tightly will help fend off these critters. Garbage cans should have tight fitting lids. The next time you smell that skunk perfume in the air remind yourself it’s time to make a skunk odor kit. Submitted by Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA owner and trainer of Molasses Creek Dog Training.

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