“ATTACKED” BY A SKUNK? HERE’S SOME HELP (July 24/98)

Lloyd Duncanson recently told me an amusing story about a goat farmer who uses white plastic containers for water dishes. Seems he goes around the goat pen after dark kicking over the containers as he changes the water. One evening a skunk got into the pen. In the poor light the skunk’s stripe stood out, kinda like a water dish, and…

Well, as they say, you know the rest of the story. Another person discovered to their dismay that people also get sprayed when a skunk becomes alarmed. There’s a friend, for example, who discovered he had locked a skunk in his garage overnight. He made the mistake of kicking at the skunk to hurry it out. Several days later you could still tell that the skunk was good at hitting a moving target.

While I’ve mentioned two incidents where people were sprayed by skunks, it doesn’t happen often. Usually, it’s the family dog or cat and canines used by hunters that suffer the wrath of irritated skunks. People attacks are relatively rare.

I don’t have to tell anyone whose pet has been sprayed that cleaning them up isn’t any fun. It can be a disaster, and a costly one, when a dog makes a panic run through the house after a spraying and contacts beds, sofas, curtains and clothing. I’ve heard some horror stories about this happening, and they weren’t funny.

In previous columns, I’ve mentioned various things that are helpful in eliminating skunk odour and removing spray stains. I’ve tried several mixtures and concoctions on my hunting dogs after they were sprayed, including the traditional tomato juice bath and strong soap and water, and none were 100 per cent effective. The commercial skunk odour eliminators I’ve tried were only partly effective, erasing most of the odour after several applications but leaving a lingering reminder that was obvious every time the dog got wet.

If you are hunting or exercising your dog and there contact with a skunk, keep in mind that it helps to put your dog into water as quickly as possible. I’ve found that commercial odour eliminators were more effective if I gave my dogs a thorough dunking in a brook or pond immediately after contact.

Since I’ve pooh-poohed the use of tomato juice or soap and water and questioned the effectiveness of commercial odour eliminators, you may ask if anything really helps after contact with a skunk. The answer is “yes.”

Lloyd Duncanson, who is a licensed predator control officer, vouches for the following recipe – let’s call it a skunk wash – which came originally from a trapper’s magazine, The Modern Trapper. Duncanson tells me that many people use this concoction, which as you will see, is made from readily available ingredients. “Very few things work (in eliminating skunk odour)” Duncanson says, “but this does.”

To make the skunk wash combine one quart of hydrogen peroxide with one-quarter cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and one teaspoon of liquid soap. The hydrogen peroxide (or three per cent hydrogen peroxide to be correct) is the product normally sold over the counter at all pharmacies. The liquid soap can be laundry or dish detergent.

This wash is good for man and beast, Duncanson says, but should be kept away from eyes and mouth, a warning echoed by a local pharmacist when I asked him about combining these ingredients.

By the way, this is one recipe I hope you never have to use. There’s only one way you can tell me this wash is effective and that truly would be good news and bad news.

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