A five-letter word that fills most dog owners with fear. No, now is not the time to think Pepe Le Pew and get awwwwl romantic about it. Honestly, I’m not in the mood, because my sweet little Cavapoo Georgia met up with a real life skunk last night.

He didn’t waste any time romancing her. No, this skunk turned his back on Georgia, as if to say “I’m not interested in you.” And a second later, he put his head down between his knees, arched his back, raised his tail high and began stomping his feet. Then he ripped one, aiming directly at Georgia’s face and fired off the most repulsive smell that is still with us today. Believe me, nothing about this misfortune was at all pleasant. And to make things even worse, poor Georgia was sprayed directly into her eyes and mouth.

Because I’m not good at preparing for emergencies — I don’t have water and other supplies for earthquakes, and I didn’t have tomato juice or even a fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand last night. As fast as I could I Googled “My dog was sprayed in the face by a skunk” and found out just how caught off guard I really was to deal with this thoroughly offensive event.

So a little information about skunk spray that I became acquainted with last night. It is modified anal gland fluid. It’s a thick, yellow, oily compound that is degraded from urine and released from scent glands located on either side of the skunk’s back end. The principle component of this stinky secretion is mercaptan, which contains sulfur. This is why it’s so excessively stinky!

I’m writing to warn all of you that skunks are most active during the spring and summer when the weather is the warmest. This time of year is prime time.

So don’t be caught empty handed. Be proactive and be prepared. This is what you will need to do (with thanks to The United States Humane Society):

Step 1: Keep your dog outside

You’ll probably want to keep your dog outside while you get it together so she doesn’t carry the smell indoors. Check her eyes; if they’re irritated or red, immediately flush them with cool water.

Step 2: Mix the Ingredients

Mix together:

  • 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (available at any pharmacy)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap

Wearing rubber gloves, wash your dog with this solution immediately after she’s been sprayed. DO NOT get the solution in her eyes. (If you don’t have peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap on hand, use vinegar diluted with water.)

Caution: Do NOT store this mixture or make it ahead of time, as the mixture could explode if left in a bottle.

Step 3: Clean and rinse

Rub the mixture through her fur, but don’t leave it on for more than 5–10 minutes (peroxide can bleach fur). Rinse her thoroughly.

Step 4: Shampoo

Next, wash your dog with pet shampoo and rinse thoroughly. By now, she should be de-skunked and smelling sweet. Thoroughly towel-dry your dog, and be sure to place her in a warm, sunny room for the next couple of hours so that she doesn’t get chilled.

Owner cleanup

If your dog rubbed some of the stink onto you, you can rid your clothes of the smell by using regular laundry detergent mixed with a half-cup of baking soda.

One last thing: Skunk spray has been linked to incidences of various anemias in dogs due to some of the compounds in it. Watch your dog carefully for 3–5 days after it was sprayed, looking for lethargy, weakness, and/or discolored urine. If you note any of the above, bring your dog to the vet ASAP.

Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Georgia a few minutes before meeting the skunk

“What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about.” — Julie Wright

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