My Dog Killed a Skunk, Is There Any Danger in That?by Simon Foden
Learn the habits of skunks to help your dog avoid them.
If you dog doesn't heed the skunk's stinky warning and winds up killing the critter, he won't come out of it smelling of roses. Aside from the skunk's noxious spray, which can cause eye, nose and mouth irritation and throat inflammation, the dog faces other risks, such as incurring bites or scratches. It’s best to ensure that your dog cannot come into contact with skunks.
If your dog and a skunk enter a confrontation, it's probable that skunk will spray in order to avoid a physical escalation. However, since skunks are near-sighted, it's plausible yet unlikely that your dog may get hold of him before he has a chance to defend himself. The skunk may be engrossed in digging for bugs, for example. Rabid skunks, meanwhile, may lack the necessary instinctive responses to escape a dog attack.
Risk of Illness and Injury
Skunks can carry rabies. If your dog sustained a bite from a rabies-carrying skunk or ingested the skunk's saliva during the process of killing him, it is possible that your dog will be exposed to rabies. Check your dog for bite marks and open wounds, and clean any wounds you spot with disinfectant soap. If you have even the tiniest concern that the skunk took a bite, take the dog to the vet to be fully examined. If you can, take the body of the skunk to be tested, too. It is also possible that your dog may have incurred non-rabies injuries during his confrontation with the skunk. While skunks will hiss and spray in order to deter an attack, once engaged in a fight, they will scratch and bite.
Risk of Poisoning
Although no approved skunk poison exists, some people do attempt to control pest skunk populations using poison. If the skunk that your dog killed had been poisoned -- or if he brought you a dead one -- it’s possible that your dog may have ingested an amount of the poison, too. Since poisoning skunks is illegal, it’s unlikely that this is the case, but if you notice any change in your dog’s behavior in the hours following his killing of the skunk, take him immediately to the vet.
Dealing With the Stench
Once he’s been "skunked," your dog will carry with him a distinctively eggy, sulphuric smell. This oily substance is not inherently dangerous, but it is strong and foul. The Humane Society of the United States recommends using a combination of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish-washing soap to clean your dog after skunking. It recommends that you keep your dog outside before cleaning him to ensure that he doesn’t transfer the oily liquid to furniture inside the house. Once you’ve treated your dog with the special mixture, give him a bath using his regular doggy shampoo.
Avoiding the Skunk
The best way to ensure your dog doesn't come into contact with skunks is to ensure that your yard is as unappealing to skunks as possible. Keep food waste and trash sealed, and make sure fences are secure. Also, ensure that your dog isn't in the yard at sundown, as this is when skunks are most active.
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- Humane Society: De-Skunking Your Dog
- North Dakota Department of Health: Questions and Answers About Rabies
- ASPCA: Rabies
- All State Animal Control: Frequently Asked Questions About Skunks
- Florida Wildlife Control: How to Keep Skunks Out of Your Yard
- The American Animal Hospital Association: Skunk Smell
- Wild Skunk Rescue: Skunk Behaviors
- Humane Society: Understanding Rabies
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images