Why Do Skunks Spray?
Skunks spray to defend themselves against predators, like coyotes, fox, your dog, or even a human! If startled, they’ll react and spray. But, in general, they spray only as a last resort. As the first line of defense, a skunk will attempt to give a warning and try to scare the predator away. He’ll raise his tail and shake it, stomp his feet, or maybe arch his back. If the predator doesn’t heed his warnings then the skunk will spray … and he’ll do it with pinpoint accuracy. He can accurately hit his target at approximately 15 feet. The spray can temporarily immobilize his predator or make him run, allowing himself time to escape. It’s an extremely effective defense mechanism for the skunk.
What Is Skunk Spray?
Skunk spray is a liquid oily sulfur compound that’s produced in a skunk’s anal glands – in limited supply. They only have enough to spray six times. After that, the replenishment phase can take up to 10 days. During that time, the skunk has little in terms of defense.
Why Does It Stink So Bad?
Skunk spray or skunk oil has actually been referred to as a chemical weapon. It’s a compound of sulfur and hydrogen atoms which have bonded, and if you’ve ever experienced the smell close up then you’ll never forget it. Think rotten eggs, but magnify the stench a gazillion times! Many also describe it as smelling like rotting flesh or fecal matter. Because of its chemical composition and the fact that it’s an oil, it’s really hard to get the odor off.
How To De-Skunk My Dog
To effectively de-skunk your pooch, you’ll need to neutralize the chemical compounds, the thiols, which are causing the odor. Thanks to Chemist Paul Krebaum who invented this recipe, the stench from a skunk can be eliminated with a simple bath.
Being a chemist, Krebaum knew that in order to get rid of the putrid odor from the thiols, he’d have to create a chemical reaction that would bond the thiol into another compound. In other words, break the Sulfur-Hydrogen Bond and create something else that wouldn’t smell. And that’s exactly what he did. They key was oxidation. Krebaum created a formula containing hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate, an item most of us have in our pantry, that we call baking soda. The Result: The oxygen molecules bonded with the thiol – a new compound was formed, hence, no more stink!
- 32-ounce bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (which you can get at any supermarket or your neighborhood pharmacy)
- 1/4 Cup of Baking Soda
- 1 – 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid (Original blue Dawn is best because Dawn easily cuts through oil and skunk spray is oil)
- Never make this solution ahead of time and store it because it can explode in a sealed bottle.
- Never get this mixture into your pooch’s eyes.
- Use latex or rubber gloves when using this solution.
- Stir/Mix the ingredients together in an open container or bucket and use it right away – (do not cover it and do not store it).
- Shampoo and dry after treatment with the mixture.
1. Keep Fido Outside until you bath him. You may be tempted to bring him in the house, but don’t! Everywhere he goes will stink. The skunk odor will permeate everything in its path and can linger for up to a year (and some say even more). If he’s already inside the house then get him into the bathroom and close the door until you’re done de-skunking him.
2. Check Him Thoroughly, especially his eyes. Usually a skunk will spray a dog directly in the face, so make sure to check his eyes and face first. If he is squinting, rubbing his eyes, or tearing then flush his eyes with clear water, a canine safe eyewash, or saline eyewash. Check his mouth, breathing, and skin for anything abnormal. More than likely, besides having some irritation and hurt pride, he’s probably okay. If your pooch seems like he is in any distress, though, call your vet.
3. Protect Yourself – Use barriers like rubber or latex gloves to cover your hands, an apron or big old shirt to shield your clothing, and if you have long hair, pull it back. As I said before – this odor will linger.
4. Blot With Disposable Towels any areas that were affected by the skunks spray. This will minimize the chance of spreading the skunk oils onto unaffected areas of your pooch’s coat.
5. Apply The Solution – Apply the solution to your pooch’s coat and make sure to get it everywhere he’s been sprayed, but NOT near the eyes. Leave the solution on him for about five minutes. Leaving it on too long can bleach his coat. Rinse well.
6. Shampoo as you normally would with your favorite poochie shampoo. Rinse and dry.
7. Dispose of any unused solution.
8. Give your fur baby a BIG hug – he’s been through a big ordeal!
Did you know?
- A skunk will never spray another skunk even if they are having a scuffle.
- Skunk spray is extremely flammable.
- Natural gas is laced with the putrid smelling chemical thiol so that the otherwise odorless gas could be detected in case of a leak.
- You can remove the skunk smell from your clothing, by adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda to your wash load. (Yes, use your regular detergent too)