For many dog owners, an encounter with a skunk is almost an inevitability. Often, it’s simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A skunk will only spray when it believes that it is in danger. Often, it will display warning signs first, such as a making low growling noise, stamping it’s front feet, and raising it’s tail. A skunk’s spray is actually a sulphuric substance known as mercaptan. As well as smelling terrible, mercaptan can actually blind your dog for up two days if it makes direct contact with the eyes. For a guard dog, that’s two days that your canine is unable to work, and unable to defend you, your family or your property.
In the event that your dog gets sprayed, you must act as quickly as possible. The oily spray, if left for too long, can become nearly impossible to remove and may continue to smell for up to two years. Keep in mind that anything that your dog touches from the point of being sprayed will pick up the oils and begin to smell. Keep your dog out of your house, out of its dog house, and away from its bed to prevent them from picking up the smell. Wear old clothes and old gloves, because your clothes and skin will pick up the smell as well. The first thing you should do is to try and determine the exact area that was sprayed. For the first washing, focus only on the areas that were directly sprayed. This will prevent the spray from being spread into otherwise unaffected parts of your dog’s coat. After the initial washing, you will want to bathe your dog again in its entirety to remove the rest of the residue from the spray. The goal at this point is not to remove the smell, but to remove the sprayed substance itself to prevent it from soaking further into your dog’s coat.
Once you’ve washed your dog thoroughly to remove the spray, it is very likely that the scent will remain. Removing the skunk scent can be tricky, but there are a number of methods available. Excess washing and scent-removing chemicals can dry out and irritate your dog’s skin. For a guard dog or protection dog, dry fur and skin can affect your canine’s ability to operate efficiently, especially in harsh weather conditions. Methods such as tomato juice are often questionable and may not do much to remove the smell. Your veterinarian or local dog groomer may able to offer a safer and more effective method of scent removal, or you may have to simply wait it out.