When Skunks Attack Your Dog
Always Be Prepared for a Skunk Attack
Help! My Dog Got Sprayed by a Skunk
Since skunks are nocturnal animals, they rarely attack during the day. The bulk of the attacks happen at night, and odds are you will be unprepared if your animal is sprayed. Be ready. We were lucky enough to have some of these items in the house when my dog got sprayed:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Dishwashing detergent
- Baking soda
- Air freshener (Ozium works great)
- Assorted old towels and sponges
I'm going to tell you how we cleaned our dog, and how we attempted to clean the house. Here's the story of how it all went down.
What Not to Do During a Skunk Attack
- Panic: We did because we didn't know what to do. Print out the advice in this article and attach it to your fridge with a magnet. You'll always have it ready.
- Take your pet to the vet: The vet will discourage this unless the animal has been bitten. Feel free to call an emergency vet and get their advice. They'll probably give you the peroxide recipe.
- Don't keep anything that may have been sprayed: Whatever it is, throw it away (it's not worth keeping and will make your cleaning efforts futile).
The Night of the Skunk Attack
It's an attack that changed our lives forever. It happened at approximately 10:30 pm one night. My wife and I had just finished watching a DVD, and we were about to go to bed. I knew our 100 lb best friend, Kiera (our 8-year-old Labrador-Shepherd mix), would have to go outside and answer nature's call. She had been pretty quiet during the movie.
I accompanied Kiera to the back door and turned on the backyard floodlights, opened the door, and watched her wagging tail as it descended down the four concrete stairs to the backyard. The $1400 investment we made to fence in the yard of our new house was money well spent. Kiera could roam the yard unencumbered by her leash and stay outside as long as she pleased while she did her business.
I walked back into the kitchen and poured myself a drink of water. Through the open kitchen window, I saw Kiera take off after something near the shed. I assumed it was one of the neighborhood cats, and I prayed it was one of the neighborhood cats. It wasn't one of the neighborhood cats; it was our worst nightmare.
I ran to the door as Kiera was running back to the house. She was whimpering, foaming at the mouth, and her eyes were bloodshot. As she came up the stairs, I grabbed her head to see what had happened. That's when I noticed the smell.
If you've ever smelled a freshly attacked animal, it smells nothing like the strong odor you may smell driving down the highway late at night. It was a smell like nothing I ever imagined—a superstrong combination of burnt rubber, garlic, onions, and vomit. It almost knocked me down. Kiera, terrified, ran into the kitchen and then the living room. There was no stopping her.
Realizing that a skunk just attacked my baby (and braving the smell as best as I could), I called for my wife and together, we inspected every inch of Kiera's body to make sure that she hadn't been bitten. Skunks are notorious for rabies, and even though Kiera is always current on her shots, we weren't taking chances.
By the time we were done with her physical exam (no bites, thank you, God!), my wife took Kiera into the shower to flush out her eyes, and I ran into my office to hit up the net to find out what to do. I am ashamed to admit that I was never ready for a skunk attack. I had never even thought of it because skunks aren't abundant in our area.
Emergency Skunk Attack Kit
What to have on-hand in case your animal is attacked by a skunk:
- 32 ounces of hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4-1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1 good squirt of dishwashing detergent such as Dawn
- Something for mixing (a one-gallon plastic water jug is ideal)
After you use this mixture, be sure to dispose of it. It will explode if kept in a bottle.
Instructions for combining:
- Mix all the ingredients together and apply the combination to your animal. Be extremely careful not to get any inside their eyes or ears.
- Shampoo the animal in this mixture for at least 10 minutes, and then rinse completely.
- You may have to apply this mixture the next day, as we did. It did take most of the smell out of the dog's fur, but her face and nose still smelled brutal. We attempted to use diluted vinegar on a cotton ball. It's a slow process.
Cleaning Supplies for a Skunk Attack
- Several old bath towels
- White or apple cider vinegar
- Ground coffee
- Ozium air spray (check any auto supply store)
- Carpet foaming spray
- Tranquilizers (take as directed)
We didn't try tomato juice. Not only did we not have any in the house, I read that it was ineffective.
Get Rid of Skunk Odor in Your House
The house was another problem all it's own. Every room stunk. It was HORRIBLE! I learned that skunks do not spray urine, but a musky oil from sacs located near their anus. This oil spreads over your animal and anything he/she touches and is extremely difficult to remove.
At the time of the attack, I had the central air conditioner running, which I'm certain made things worse as it carried to every room. I shut off the air and opened all of the windows. I turned on the ceiling fans and started wiping down the furniture. We have leather furniture in the living room, and I wiped it down with straight white vinegar and did not rinse it off. I did the same to the Pergo flooring. The carpets we sprayed down with a canned commercial carpet cleaner (the foamy stuff), and I placed several small bowls of ground coffee and white vinegar around the house. The coffee is supposed to absorb the smell, and it did a fantastic job.
Kiera had a difficult night sleeping. We all did. I gave Kiera one of her puppy tranquilizers and then took a human tranquilizer myself. My wife went to bed with two Advils due to a horrible migraine (if you're a migraine victim, you can imagine skunk smell is not a good thing to be around).
I threw away the clothes we were wearing. They were just pajamas, so it wasn't a huge loss. We also had to toss several towels that we used to dry Kiera off. A few throw rugs also made their way to the garbage bags. I also made sure to change the filters in the air conditioner. The basement still smells as I cannot open the windows down there. I considered a professional cleaner specializing in skunks, but it's expensive, and we have a high homeowner's deductible.
Be Prepared for a Future Attack
Are we now prepared for a possible future attack? You bet we are. The next day, we stocked a special skunk section in the basement complete with hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing detergent, extra boxes of baking soda, air freshener (Ozium works great), vinegar, and assorted old towels and sponges.
I also wondered what attracted the skunks to my yard because all of our trash is in a covered canister. (Skunks eat anything including roadkill, which is why they are great candidates for rabies.) It's also early autumn, which I found out is mating season for skunks. I also have a shed in the yard, and it's possible that a new mom could have made her way underneath to have her family. Rather than close the bottom of the shed in (which would be not only cruel but stupid), I placed several mothballs underneath it and around the area. Ammonia-soaked rags are supposed to work well, too.
Feel free to comment with your skunk stories, remedies, and household purifying tips. I hope you enjoyed this article and have never ever had to use it in an emergency!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2007 Joseph Addams