Your pup is well socialized and friendly — which is just what you want him to be. The downside to this great socialization, though, is that he could attempt to make friends with the local wildlife. Most will flee from his well meaning advances, but a skunk could give him a blast of distinctive odor that is instantly recognizable and tough to get rid of.

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Why do Skunks Spray?

A skunk does have teeth and the ability to defend himself, but he rarely needs to get physical. Instead, he (or she) sprays the perceived threat with an oily liquid that contains a variety of  chemical compounds called thiols. Most skunks can target a threat that is 12 feet away, so your dog doesn’t have to get close to be exposed. These chemicals cause that distinctive odor, and a well meaning dog attempting to make friends could get a blast right to the face.  Aside from the objectionable odor, your pet can also experience eye irritation and discomfort after the encounter.

Coping with a Skunk Encounter

You’ll know right away that your dog encountered a skunk, even if you are not in the yard at the time. The odor is unmistakable. Examine your dog carefully for wounds or bites, but chances are he did not get close enough to the skunk to be scratched or bitten. If your pet has red or watering eyes or is shaking his head or rubbing his eyes, flush with room temperature water to reduce his discomfort. According to the AKC, you can do this with water or with a product created specifically for this purpose.

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Once his eyes are clear, it’s time to tackle the fur. One of the problems with skunk spray is that it is oil based, so just plain water won’t work. The AKC recommends using a mixture of dish soap, 3% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda in equal amounts to wash your pet before he comes inside. You may need to repeat this a second time; avoid getting this mixture in his eyes.

If you live in an area that is attractive to skunks or with a known skunk population, keeping shampoo and eyewash designed for skunk encounters can help you take action quickly and eliminate the evidence of the skunk encounter for good.

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