While this may be slightly off topic for a horse blog I'm willing to bet that the great majority of horse owners also have at least one dog and at least one creature lurking on their property that you hope stays out of sight.
So begins the story of my beloved dog "Hunter." Late one evening Hunter went for a stroll crawling under the fence and down the hill to his most favorite spot. Where our creek meets the trees he crunches through the leaves exploring every smell and sound. He has tried very hard to live up to his name and to protect his family farm. He has waged war with more creatures than I can count. From the frog to squirrel, from possum to mole even that ever elusive deer. He happily does his job leaving no stone unturned.
Each night Hunter patrols the property line then ventures back home once all is deemed secure. This night would be different... While marking each tree on his way back to the barn, he picked up a scent. His hair standing on end the chase began but this time it wouldn't last long. This unusual enemy was standing his ground despite Hunters powerful bark. The feisty critter even dare turn his back and raise his tail in the midst of battle! Then I heard a loud and pitiful "Yelp!" and with a cry of defeat my Hunter came sprinting up the hill.
He was frantic and foaming rubbing his face in the dirt trying to get some relief. Hunter got a shot pure skunk to the face, the eyes, the mouth and the chest. The skunk secrets its highly odorous oil is a form of self-defense. When alarmed or attacked, a skunk can direct this spray, at a target several feet away. At high concentrations, the secretion can cause nausea and act like tear gas. The only comparison that comes to mind is burnt plastic. Not only was the smell potent enough to carry for miles, it can also be extremely painful for the dog who makes the mistake. Once we caught him we washed his eyes and cleaned out his mouth as the irritation can be quite severe if not dealt with immediately.
It has been more than two weeks since the skunking and while hunter has finally been allowed back in the house with the rest of the family the smell still lingers. He has never been better groomed or more leery of hearing me call his name. He has had 6 baths and I have tried 4 skunk deodorizing remedies. Some helped and and others not so much. The bottom line is no matter how loved or treasured your K9 friend, you will not be eager to let him snuggle up for at least a couple of months. Below are the home remedies as well as the store bought DE-skunker:)
1. Tomato Juice : The Old Wives Tale
You may have heard that tomato juice can neutralize the odor of a skunk. A bath of tomato juice may seem to work but in reality it makes your dog smell like tomato juice instead. The skunk's smell is so overpowering that your nose simply gets tired from the stench. The smell receptors in your nose bind the skunk odor so tightly that eventually you stop smelling it so much. This is called "olfactory fatigue." At that point, the tomato juice you've just bathed your pet with is a new smell that your nose is not used to yet. After a while, though, the tomato juice smell will go away and that skunk odor will come back. The tomato juice tend to cut the oil base of the skunk spray but they do not really "kill" the odor. They just strip off the bulk of it. Skunk oil is meant to be persistent. A lasting memory of your encounter with the stripped kitty. Once it gets a grip just washing away the oil does not remove the smell, just reduces it.
2. Home Remedies
Mix this up at the time of use (must be freshly mixed). Sponge on dog. Let sit two to five minutes then rinse with water. If a second dose is needed mix a new batch from scratch. The mix reacts with the mercaptans (smelly chemicals in the skunk spray) and oxidizes them. If the mix is not fresh, the reaction will not work.
3. Household products
Summer's eve Douche Concentrate or any over-the-counter douche is another effective product to neutralize skunk spray odor. These can be purchased at 24 hour convenience stores. It works better than tomato juice in a pinch and is mild enough to use on your dog's face. The method is to apply it directly to the fur and work it into the deeper layers by hand. For the dog's face, we used a washcloth with the solution to apply the product.
4. Store bought skunk deodorizer
Nature's Miracle is a solid product if you can find it in the store or have the foresight to order it in advance for emergencies. Skunk Odor Remover removes most skunk odors in minutes. Liquid enzymes neutralize the skunk''s odor-causing organic material. For best results, bathe dog with a skunk shampoo, then apply and let air dry. While this did not eliminate the scent it did a pretty good job at neutralizing the odor and making the scent bearable.
If your dog has never had the misfortune of going toe to toe with this stinky intruder consider yourself lucky. I highly recommend having these products on hand. Murphy's Law ...Situations like these never happen on a lazy afternoon. Be prepared! I would also like to send a special thanks to my boarder "Christina" who jumped in to help without hesitation. Anyone who is still a friend when you smell that bad is a true friend in deed. Hunter and I thank you for not abandoning us in our time of need:)