Beware the Skunks
July 13, 2009
With the fall season in sight, many of us will venture to the
great outdoors and go camping. All kinds of fascinating creatures
can be found in the great outdoors, but when your puppy is roaming
around, beware the skunks! Puppies especially can become curious
when they come across these foreign creatures, but skunks are
startled easily and have no mercy. The skunk odor, which is
actually a poison, can sometimes take years to remove from a dog's
Skunks have an incredible talent for spraying with accuracy.
They also have the ability to spray multiple times in a row,
reaching up to ten feet away. The spray that a skunk emits is a
type of oil, accompanied by a horrific odor that will seep deeply
into a dog's fur. Thankfully, there are multiple options for
getting rid of the odor
Most people believe that tomato juice is the best remedy for
getting rid of a skunk's odor, but this is in fact, false. Tomato
juice is not very effective on animals and will sometimes stain a
light-haired animal's fur. Tomato juice is also very acidic and is
thought to be harmful to cats, but it is not known for certain just
how harmful. Better options include hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice,
dishwasher detergent, or a variety of commercial products that are
available at local pet stores or from your veterinarian. While
commercial products are more costly than home remedies, they are
often more successful at removing the odor on the first try.
Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinarian at the College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M
University cautions pet owners to always wash their pet outside if
it has been sprayed by a skunk. She also warned pet owners to be
sure pets do not get loose on the way to the bath tub, because the
odor-causing oil will stick to anything it touches.
There are no toxins in skunk spray, so it will not harm your
pet. However, it could become uncomfortable for them.
"If your pet was sprayed in the face, make sure to clean it
properly," said Dr. Blue-McLendon. " Wash the eyes out with a
saline solution and clean out the nostrils with a damp paper towel
or cotton balls."
The smelly skunk spray should not be the only concern to pet
owners. Skunks carry rabies without showing signs of the symptoms.
One bite from a skunk and your pet could become infected with the
rabies disease; his life in danger. If there is a chance your pet
has been bitten by a skunk, Dr. Blue-McLendon stressed that you
should take your pet to see a veterinarian immediately, if there is
even a chance it has been bitten by a skunk.
Skunks like to hide in dark places, so it is a good idea to
train your pet not to go under houses or decks, and always have
them updated on their rabies vaccinations.
"If you own fruit bearing plants, remove the fallen fruit
quickly to reduce food sources that may keep skunks coming back to
your property" said Blue-McLendon.
"There is no way to train your pet to stay away from skunks,"
noted Blue-McLendon. Most pets will keep their distance after being
sprayed once, but some pets never learn their lesson, and continue
to be sprayed by the paranoid skunks.
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