Getting sprayed by a skunk is a traumatic experience for your dog. Fortunately, in most cases, it’s more of a smelly nuisance than a harmful situation. Careful measures can reduce the symptoms and odor.
When a skunk feels threatened, it sprays a fluid that’s stored in its anal sacs. The oily liquid contains organic compounds that produce the potent, characteristic odor. Unfortunately, skunks often targets the face of its opponent, in this case your dog.
The first thing to do when you discover your dog has been sprayed is to check him for injuries. Any serious cuts or scratches should be addressed by a vet. Usually a skunk will try various other methods of defense before spraying a pup, so it’s not uncommon to find scratches, scrapes, or cuts, especially on the dogs nose. If only spraying occurred, determine what parts of the dog’s face or body are affected.
If your dog’s eyes were sprayed, this may cause irritation, watering or even temporary blindness. Getting sprayed in or around the mouth produces foaming or salivating. The overpowering odor can temporarily affect your dog’s sense of smell. Pawing at the face is common and indicates irritation.
Rarely, chemicals in skunk spray can cause more serious symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, respiratory problems, lethargy, weakness and anemia. If these occur after the dog is sprayed in the face or mouth, see a veterinarian immediately or go to an emergency veterinary clinic. Medical attention is also warranted if there are signs of redness, swelling or tissue damage in or around the mouth or eyes.
In most cases, treatment involves simply removing or neutralizing as much of the spray as possible to reduce irritation and odor. For eyes, dog owners can use an over-the-counter eyewash made for humans. The mouth can be rinsed with cold water mixed with white vinegar. Some dogs don’t like the taste of vinegar, so he or she might try to reject it, but your canine friend will thank you later.
There are several products on the market specifically made for removal of skunk odor. As an alternative, mix one quart of hydrogen peroxide, one cup of baking soda and a tablespoon of dish detergent. Massage this mixture into your dog’s fur and let it sit for several minutes before rinsing off. Repeated treatments may be necessary.
In most cases dogs that are sprayed by skunks won’t experience any longterm health effects. It’s likely that they’ll stink worse than they feel. But, you should take a skunk spraying incident seriously until you’r sure your dog doesn’t have any allergic reactions to the chemicals in the skunk’s spray.