I always feel bad for skunked dogs and their owners. Recently, I felt special sympathy for one such pair, because the pair consisted of my Labrador pal Buster and me. We hosted a dinner party. Buster was a very good boy during the party, and he didn’t complain about not having been walked before the party. But by the time things broke up, Buster definitely had earned a walk. And it was midnight.
I was holding the leash when Buster suddenly lunged forward. When I saw the object of his attack, I initially feared it was a raccoon. Thankfully it was only a skunk. Raccoons generally stand and fight. Raccoons are ferocious and I’ve seen many dogs get torn apart by them. Skunks simply turn and spray.
Being skunked is a miserable experience. I know this because a hearty portion of the spray struck me. Thankfully, skunks almost never cause lasting (physical) harm (I will be dealing with the emotional repercussions of the incident for a while yet).
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I took great solace from the knowledge that Buster and I would be OK. However, we did have one very urgent problem: we smelled horrible.
Thankfully my fiancee, Denise, was walking with us and she escaped unscathed. We walked home and Denise went inside to look up a good skunk remedy. Buster and I sat in front of the house, looking and feeling quite dejected.
If your dog is skunked I do not recommend taking him to the vet. Most vets I know firmly turn away skunked dogs because they are not in need of medical attention and because they make veterinary hospitals uninhabitable.
Denise ran to the store and came home with the ingredients for a skunk remedy. Thankfully it worked. Here’s the recipe.
Mix 4 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap together in a bowl that can be thrown away. Wear gloves to protect your hands from skunk odor. Use a wash rag to apply the remedy to the skunked area (do not get it in the eyes or mouth). Do not rinse or wet down your dog before applying the remedy. Let stand for 10 minutes, rinse, and repeat as necessary.
Two rounds of this remedy got 95 percent of the smell off Buster. Sadly, like most dogs he was sprayed in the face so I was not able to clean the affected area as aggressively as I would have liked. I gave Buster a bath with dog shampoo after treating him with the remedy. Buster went to bed, and I washed my clothes with laundry soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. I am happy to say the clothes now smell fine and they did not bleach appreciably from the peroxide. I am sad to say that my keys, wallet, and cell phone still smell pretty bad.
As I write this Buster is giving off a very slight skunky funk. It will wear off in a few days.
And I will be very happy if we never, ever meet another skunk again.
By Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM, for Dogster Magazine
About the Author: Dr. Eric Barchas is an emergency veterinarian based in San Francisco. He is Dogster Magazine’s resident vet.