The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. Spring is officially on its way! As Mother Nature awakens, so do all of the plants and animals that have been sleeping away the winter months. It’s also a time of year that we start spending more time outdoors, going on walks and hikes, working in our yards, and letting our pets play and roam more actively in the fresh air. For most, outdoor exploration is fun and carefree, but for an unlucky few it can be a disaster. A smelly disaster!
That’s right, we’re talking about skunks.
In the early spring, skunks amble out of their pseudo-hibernation to forage for food and to locate a suitable den to have their adorable babies in. Oftentimes, they’re looking for prime real estate, a home close to food sources like garbage cans, compost heaps, or the bowl of food your neighbor sets out for stray cats. Skunks may burrow under dead trees, or simply set themselves up in the corner of your tool shed. They are most active at dawn and dusk and they’re not afraid of anything due to the confidence they have in their built-in stinky defense system. Though skunks aren’t the least bit aggressive, they’re not afraid of you, not afraid of your dog, and not afraid of your cat.
Cats and skunks have a strange understanding where they tend to leave one another alone. Dogs and skunks, however, cannot seem to exist harmoniously in the same space. When a dog curiously approaches a skunk, the skunk may warn him off by turning its hind end toward him and raising its tail. What the skunk is saying is, “Back off, buddy, I’ve got a gun and I’m not afraid to use it!” But how your dog interprets this posture is, “Greetings, stranger! Come smell my butt so that we can get to know each other better!” This is why it’s so common for dogs to get sprayed by skunks, often right in the face.
To prevent skunk sprays, you want to keep your property free of anything that might tempt a skunk into wanting to hang around. Keep garbage cans tightly secured, bird food and cat food out of reach, and put up strong boundaries around gardens and compost heaps. Nevertheless, your dog may still come into contact with one and he may pay the price!
If your dog gets sprayed, don’t panic. Rushing a skunked dog to the closest garden hose or bathtub is an owner’s first impulse, but water will actually make the smell even worse! Tomato juice? Forget about it. Tomato juice temporarily masks the odor but does not get rid of the stinky oils clinging to your dog’s fur. All you have to do is apply a simple concoction of ingredients you probably already have in your home.
What you need:
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup of baking soda
1 tsp of dish detergent
rubber gloves and a sponge
First you will want to secure your dog outside while you go in to prepare the solution. When ready, place your dog in a bathroom tub or a small kiddie pool in the backyard (if it’s warm enough outside). Again, do not pre-rinse or wet the dog first, as water will make things worse! Wearing gloves, drench your dog with the solution, allowing it to soak thoroughly to the skin. Use the sponge to sop up the solution from the bottom of the tub in order to re-apply it where needed. Let your dog soak in the solution for 3-5 minutes, then rinse with warm water, reapplying the solution as often as necessary until the smell has lessened significantly. Then wash your dog with your favorite pet shampoo, dry him off, and let him rest! It is important to NOT let your dog lick any of the solution, and to not get any of the solution in his eyes or ears. Discard any remaining solution.
So if you have a pup who likes to wander outdoors and you live in a skunk friendly area, it certainly doesn’t hurt to keep these materials on hand, just in case! We wish our readers a happy, safe, and stink-free Spring!