We are starting the second week of February on a smelly note, here at GroomingDales Pet Salon & Day Spa! We have heard this exclaimed by the owners of 11 dogs so far this month. That’s averaging to 1 a day! A “skunked dog” is a pet that has been sprayed by the anal glands of a Skunk. Skunk is a small omnivore that uses its foul smell to keep predators at bay. Most Wolves, Coyotes and Foxes, carnivores that would normally hunt such a small slow moving animal as a skunk, seem to be aware of the foul smelling defense and are effectively deterred. February marks the beginning of mating season for mature skunks. Male skunks will mate with multiple females and can travel up to 5 miles a night even though most stay in a ½ mile to 2-mile home area.
Domesticated dogs do not seem to possess the instinctive intelligence of its wild counterparts. Many domesticated dogs, having never encountered such an animal, charge ahead to investigate. Running up on a skunk only to miss the warning of the skunk hunching up preparing to fire that foul stench that will blanket a 5 city block area or larger. This is the moment that a dog finds himself sprayed directly with the full concentration that comes with such a face-to-face encounter.
If your pet comes in contact with a skunk, do not let them approach it! It will not know the difference between your dog and a predator. The skunk will spray. Once your pet has been sprayed directly anything that he comes into contact with will also be contaminated. It is best to remove the skunk oil from the pet with it touching the least amount of porous items as possible. Professional groomers are generally equipped with little or no porous surfaces and most have had previous experience with removing this awful smell.
As I researched skunks on the Internet I came across a variety of recipes for skunk remedies. Different ingredients including: tomato juice, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, Dawn® dishwashing liquid, lemon juice, and more! As a groomer, I have tried or heard of someone trying them all. I have found that the process of getting out skunk is more than what you use on them. The real key to getting it out is SOAKING them in it, drying them completely, and repeating until it's out. The dog often needs to be washed and dried several times before being given an approving sniff. Skunk “deadens the olfactory senses” so that after being around it for a while, it is not as easy to smell as, say, someone that just walked into the room, or has not met the dog before. When I am de-skunking a dog, I leave the dog and go outside several times, so that I might be able to smell it even faintly. Also, water seems to make the smell stronger so when the dog is wet and still smells it may not be as strong when the dog is 100% dried. This is the only way of determining if the smell is out, because once the dog is dried you can actually get close enough to try to smell exactly what part of the dog still smells and needs retreated. It can be an exercise in patience and diligence to completely remove the odor. Most groomers do not like to openly discuss their method of getting out skunk because it is more than just the product they use. It really comes down to experience and time.