With the arrival of spring, striped skunks are on the move again. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Spring is here and skunks are making the rounds again, according to Cyndi Wells, owner of Pet Pangaea.
“Until the end of February, we hadn’t sold any skunk odor removed since the end of November and then we sold 14 in the last three weeks,” Wells told the Los Alamos Reporter. “They get more active in the spring and fall. What you really want to do is prevent your dog from getting sprayed, so look outside before you let your dog out!”
Skunks are nocturnal, Wells said and they are often very active at dawn and dusk so these are good times to be extra careful. They also like to set up shop underneath things such as sheds and decks so Wells advises blocking those off and removing piles of brush skunks like to use for shelter.
When skunk spray is close and concentrated, Wells said people often report that it smells closer to burnt rubber. She said the spray can be quite irritating to the sinuses, throat and eyes and that exposure can cause nausea and vomiting.
“Skunks are fairly docile animals, but they will spray if they feel threatened. They will often do a bit of a warning dance, stamping their feet, before they spray. They can spray several feet – up to 15 feet according to some sources,” Wells said. “Some dogs learn from being sprayed and avoid it in the future. Other dogs? Not so much.” She added that one dog “who shall remain nameless” was skunked at least seven times in one summer.
Wells said skunk spray contains several different thiols and thioacetates which are responsible for its stench. She said it is a yellowish oil that that does not mix well with water, so the thioacetates convert to thiols readily when water is added and the smell may actually get worse once a dog is wet.
Pet Pangaea carries Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover which can be used on pets, laundry and other surfaces. The liquid enzymes in the product neutralize the odor-causing compounds.
“You may want to leash your dog up to walk through the house if you will be cleaning up your dog there. Do your best to try to keep contamination of other surfaces to a minimum. Use rubber gloves to handle your dog,” Wells said.
Often dogs get sprayed in the face, Wells said, because they’re looking at the skunk when it happens.
“It actually can be very damaging to corneas so if your dog gets it straight in the eyes, it’s best to have them checked by the vet pretty quickly. If they get sprayed in the face and don’t get it in the eyes, it’s best to use a pet-safe eye rinse just to make sure the eyes are cleared out. You do want to put skunk odor remover on the face so soak a cloth and press a cloth all over their head,” she said.
Skunk odor remover should be applied prior to bathing a dog with shampoo as it will work better. The Nature’s Miracle brand Wells recommends should be applied full strength and let sit for five minutes before bathing the dog with a pet shampoo.
There are some home remedies on the internet but when you add water to them, the smell can get worse, Wells said.
“Tomato juice isn’t really that effective. There is a baking soda/hydrogen peroxide solution but the issue is when do you have enough hydrogen peroxide on hand at 2 a.m.. The other thing is it’s not stable so you don’t want to put it in a steel container and have it just sitting there,” she said.
Pet Pangaea is located at 158 Central Park Square. For more information, call 505.661.1010.
Pet Pangaea owner Cyndi Wells and her daughter Maia Warren show a bottle of the skunk odor remover that has become popular with the arrival of spring and the emergence of skunks in the community. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com