About Skunk Smell

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The smell of skunk is an extremely offensive odor that can burn your eyes and make you nauseous. For the skunk, it is a great way to keep predators away. For you, it is an annoyance you may have to live with for a while if the smell permeates your home. For the dog, there are products on the market that are effective, but what you have in your home will work too. Forget the tomato juice, and grab the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish detergent.

Identification

  • The skunk is a member of the weasel family and is actually a gentle animal if not disturbed. It gives two warnings to predators. The first warning is three moves. It lowers its head, arches its back, and lifts its tail. If that doesn't send the predator away, it then stamps its front feet. Of course, if the skunk is startled, all warnings cease. Skunk spray is made up of sulfuric acid and is released through one of two glands located under the anus. The offensive spray can shoot at least six feet or more and can go in any direction.

Function

  • The purpose of the skunk spray is to keep predators away. This works most of the time, though coyotes and the great horned owl have managed to kill skunks. The spray can cause burning of the eyes and momentary blindness. There is no research that the spray causes permanent blindness. It can spray twice, because each gland holds one tablespoon of the oil liquid. The skunk can actually spray a little at a time for five or six sprays. Because the spray is so offensive, the skunk rarely has problems with most predators.

Time Frame

  • If you are sprayed by a skunk, or if your dog is sprayed by a skunk, it is imperative to get rid of the odor quickly. The smell is so strong it can make you sick. There are a number of solutions for dogs, but one seems to be the most common. It's a home remedy of one quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. Use the mixture immediately, because it is only effective for about an hour. Do not put a cover on it or try to store it. Wash the dog completely being careful not to get the solution in the eyes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. You may want to put a conditioner on the dog as well.
    Humans need to wash their clothes immediately. Regular detergent may take the odor out, but the same solution for dogs can work for humans, although the peroxide may bleach the clothes. Vinegar can be substituted for the peroxide.

Prevention/Solution

  • Skunks love to make their home under porches or other buildings. To keep skunks away, make sure they can't get into small areas. Avoid leaving any food outside, especially dog food or garbage that is easily accessible. Skunks will eat just about anything. They also like nuts, berries, and fruit, so if you have fruit trees, skunks will probably visit. Skunks come out at night, so leave on a light. It may keep them away. If they should spray near your home and it permeates the house, the best solution is to air out the house. Most sprays will only mask the odor.

Warning

  • The skunk is a carrier of rabies. A rabid skunk does not give a warning, but will attack with its teeth. If you come upon a skunk, move slowly away. Any rapid movement may startle it. If you are bitten by a skunk, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies could be fatal if medical attention is not received. The local health department needs to be notified too.

  • Photo Credit ClickArt by Broderbund
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