Ask Dr. Anna: “My dog was skunked”

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Starting to get some “my dog was skunked” calls and thought I would give some info on skunks along with a recipe to help with the odor.  There are six species of skunk that live in North American.  Skunks are generally most active during twilight, dawn and dusk.  They do not see well but have a great sense of smell and excellent hearing.  Skunks are usually docile and will give a defensively posture by stamping their feet and raising their tail as a warning before they spray.   Skunks have two anal glands on each side of the anus that secrete their spray.  They can spray these secretions up to 15 feet and are highly accurate in their aim.

Anna CoffinSkunk musk is composed of seven compounds called “thios” which has a sulfur odor similar to rotten eggs.  These compounds decompose very slowly causing the smell to linger.  Adding water (bathing) will convert these thios to become more potent and more odiferous.  A similar kind of sulfur thiol is added to natural gas to make it easy to detect gas leaks.

Anything that comes into contact with skunk spray can experience intense symptoms including vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, temporary blindness (if sprayed directly in the face) and drooling.  Skunk spray is not poisonous and does not permanently damage eyes, nose or mouth.  However, it can dissolve indoor paint off of walls.

The traditional remedy that tomato juice neutralized the odor is a myth.  Most people believe that it is working when actually the person is adjusting to the odor.  I recommend bathing the animal with Head and Shoulders shampoo and letting it soak for five minutes; then, use the following recipe as a dip.  One quart hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup baking soda and 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap.  Rinse the pet after applying the dip.  Also, do not store the dip as it can explode.

Please e-mail me with your questions at and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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