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Skunked!

By Gay Published: June 8, 2009

Springtime in Wayne County means skunk love, and they cross the back roads—and even the front ones—in great numbers, and they wind up flat, and your car and you, if your windows were open during said accident, stink.

Since it’s not a direct hit, the odor will dissipate, but what happens if your dog or cat mixes it up with a skunk? After all, they are such pretty animals, and I have had friends who kept as pets skunks who had had their scent glands removed. They were wonderful pets, docile and charming, and they are so pretty. Generally, I don’t think it’s a great idea to deliberately get a wild animal and try to domesticate it, but sometimes you end up with one you for which you hadn’t planned . More about that some other time.

Your dog has escaped, and he wanders back into the yard with a sheepish look and smelling abominable. Seriously, being skunked is unpleasant for the dog as well as the people he owns. The odor is overpowering. You have to get rid of it.

First, be sure your dog isn’t bleeding or bitten. If he is, stink or no stink, you have to take him to the vet. A skunk bite can be bad, and it is typically on the neck. The dog turns his face to avoid the powerful spray and exposes his vulnerable neck. But let’s say that Fido has not been bitten or scratched—just skunked.

Some people rely on commercial cleaning products, but I discourage this because those cleansers are meant to clean tires as well as sinks. They contain toxins and your dog is likely to get a terrible allergy. And President Obama to the contrary, a laundry drying sheet is impregnated with all kinds of harmful allergens, and your dog will most likely end up itching madly.

Get into clothes you don’t mind getting rid of. Put on some rubber gloves. Get out the hose. Tie your dog or have someone steady him. Rub him with baking soda—old fashioned baking soda, getting it worked in clear to the skin. A big dog may use five or six boxes. Let it sit about five-ten minutes. Rinse it off. At this point, some folks swear by hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is chemically akin to water (H2O), but contains another atom of oxygen (H202), making it an extremely powerful oxidizer and effective as a disinfectant, antifungal, etc. I think it is irritating to a dog. I’ve tried H2O2 in the ears for fungal infections, and while it doesn’t harm the dog, it is very irritating and uncomfortable.

You can substitute club soda, which is water with carbon dioxide added. It, too, is an oxidizer, and I prefer that. Rub it in to the skin, let it sit for ten minutes, and wash it off. Now, pour tomato juice, if you must, on the dog, although it doesn’t work that well. It is an acid, so it does have some use. I prefer lemon juice, full strength, or orange juice, also full strength, rubbed into the dog’s fur and skin. The natural acidity will help to remove the odor, and citrus is very effective in that regard. Finally, wash your dog with a good, organic dog soap, let it sit for a few minutes, and rinse it off. Don’t add perfumes or rub him with dryer sheets.

Your dog should now be fit to join polite society, although you may not want him to share your bed for a while. The lingering odor will dissipate in a week or so, at which point you may want to repeat the above.

As for your clothes, get rid of them!

If it is your cat who has been skunked, again, check to be sure she is not injured in any way. If you can get your cat to submit to all the attention, good for you. If not, a visit to the groomer is in order. Be sure that the groomer does NOT use harsh chemicals or commercial cleaners. Have her follow the above steps. The idea is to let her contain the cat so as not to get bitten and clawed!

By Gay Fifer, owner, Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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