Dog getting bath

If you’ve ever seen your dog stare down a squirrel or watched your cat lie in wait for a sparrow to fly by, you know that pets can be fiercely focused when it comes to wildlife. Paired with natural curiosity and a somewhat misplaced sense of domination, this single mindedness can land them in hot water when it comes to the family Mephitidae, or skunks. 

The Pet Experts have seen it all, and when an animal comes to us following an “incident” with a skunk, we know exactly what to do.

A Fearsome Creature to Behold

The skunk family consists of 11 species of skunk, 9 of which are found throughout the Western Hemisphere in such various climates as desert, forest, and even mountainous terrain. Approximately the size of a cat, skunks are notorious for employing a noxious odor in self defense. 

Why They Stink

All carnivores have scent glands in the rear, but the anal scent glands belonging to skunks are highly developed and extremely well-coordinated. They can accurately aim their spray right in the face of a predator that’s 6 feet away! 

They can also emit a cloudlike spray to coat larger pursuers. Before they get to that point, however, skunks will try various methods, such as paw-stamping, baring teeth, raising tail, charging, and dragging their paws. 

So, So Sulfurous

Skunks naturally roam neighborhoods at night in pursuit of food. If your pet accidentally crosses their path or purposefully engages with a skunk, be prepared for the following:

  • Getting sprayed directly in the face – This can be incredibly painful if the eyes, nose, or mouth are exposed to the spray. Irritation and inflammation are common side effects, and should be tended to by The Pet Experts. If inhaled, the mouth, throat, and lungs can experience pain and sensitivity. Flushing out these areas with clean water is helpful, but some injuries may require prescription ointment.  
  • Foul-smelling fur that lasts for days – Some folks swear by bathing in tomato juice, but the truth is that nothing can really take out the smell right away. The odor will fade over time, but, until then, try a pet shampoo to rid your house of the most pervasive stink. The combination of a teaspoon of dish soap with 1 cup baking soda added to a quart of 3% strength hydrogen peroxide can do the trick. Apply, lather, and rinse thoroughly.

A Skunk Sprayed My Pet Once. Never Again.

If a skunk sprayed your pet before, they now have the uncanny ability to give the species a wide berth. However, it wouldn’t hurt to protect your pet by enclosing your backyard with secure fencing and gates. Since these animals have sharp teeth and claws, reducing a possible collision is the best defense.

  • Install bright lights on your property’s periphery
  • Keep your pet on-leash
  • Make noise when you walk around at night (as skunks have poor vision)
  • Give skunks opportunities to escape

Remember that skunks really don’t want to spray pets. It takes them over a week to “refuel” and they should keep their natural defense for real, bona fide offenders (not your pet!).

Stink, Stanky, Skunky

If The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center can assist you with any further skunk-related inquiries, we’re always here to help. Until then, we hope your pet will be safe out there and 100% skunk-free!