If a Skunk Sprays Your Pet, What Should You Do?

Three baby skunks on grass

Skunks are usually happy to mind their own business as they forage for food in the hours around dusk and dawn. Startle a skunk, however, and they may launch an offensive odor. 

Getting rid of the skunk smell is one thing, but what if your dogs is sprayed in the eyes by a skunk?

What is skunk spray and where does it come from?

The fluid is made up of thiols, thioacetates, and a methylquinoline, among other volatile chemicals. The thiols are the main contributors to the repellent odor, while the thioacetates serve to prolong the stench, especially when water is introduced, which is why pets continue to stink even after a regular wash.

Skunks have two specialized sacs in their anus, each of which is linked to the outside by a tiny duct that runs through the anus. The sacs are little more than pouches that hold a foul-smelling fluid generated by glands that border the sacs.

Skunks are placid, but if they feel attacked, they will defend themselves. When a skunk feels threatened, they will hiss, pound their feet, and raise their tail. If the attacker ignores the warning indications, he or she will be sprayed with the skunk's anal gland secretions. Skunks have excellent accuracy and may spray from up to 16 feet away!

What Effects Does Skunk Spray Have on Dogs?

Oral, ocular (eyes), dermal (skin), and respiratory effects are also possible. The spray absorbs very little through the skin. The severity of symptoms may vary depending on how close a pet was to a skunk when it was sprayed and the region of exposure (face vs. legs or side). Inhalation can occur if an animal is sprayed directly in the face.

Skunk spray contains compounds that irritate and inflame the lining of the nose, throat, and lungs when breathed. Vomiting may be a concern if your dog swallows some of the oils.

Animals that have been sprayed often exhibit ocular edema and redness, drooling, and squinting. Many dogs will lick their lips, roll around, sneeze, and vomit. Blindness may develop temporarily. Chemical conjunctivitis and corneal injury are two more possible symptoms.

A more severe response is possible, although it is quite unusual. The thiol components can induce red blood cell oxidative injury. The consequence is anemia due to the death of red blood cells, however just a few cases have been documented in the literature.

What to Do If a Pet Is Sprayed in the Eyes by a Skunk

When something comes at them, animals, like humans, immediately blink or cover their eyes, but it's not unusual for a dog to surprise a skunk with their noses, resulting in a dog's face and eyes getting sprayed.

As previously stated, this might cause discomfort and suffering in your dog's eyes. If this happens, flush your dog's eyes out as soon as possible. Flush each eye multiple times with a well prepared eye wash for dogs for 10-15 minutes to clean your dog's eyes. To flush your dog's eyes, avoid using contact lens solution or Visine. There are a variety of items on the market that are suitable for this purpose. If you live in a region where skunks are abundant, having some on hand is a good idea. To avoid further injuries, keep your pet from pawing and touching his or her eyes.

When flushing your dogs eyes, you should approach your dog from the side and have a handful of treats to help make this uncomfortable situation more tolerable for your dog.

Paper towels can also be used to absorb excess oil from the face and coat. The secretion is a yellow oil that sticks to most surfaces it comes into touch with; it does not mix with water, like all oils. Make sure the oils don't transfer from one section of the dog to another. To prevent making the condition worse, only wipe where the oils are already present.

You should avoid getting the solution in your dog's eyes, ears, or mouth when washing him. Apply a thin strip of eye lubricant, such as Optixcare, to your dog's eyes before to the bath to help protect them from splashes or drips of the solution. After wiping excess oils with paper towels and flushing eyes, wipe face with a moist washcloth rinsed with lukewarm water if needed.

Although this circumstance is unpleasant for both you and your dog, it is critical that you maintain your composure. Your dog will most likely be disoriented and terrified, and if you worry, it will just add to your dog's dread and stress. Remind yourself how difficult this is for your dog by taking a few deep breaths.

It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian to see if there's anything else they recommend for your dog. Contact your veterinarian if the dog's eyes are red, squinting, or pawing at them after you've cleaned them.


"My Dog Was Sprayed By A Skunk—Now WhatTexas A&M UniversityCollege of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.", "Skunk Spray and Your Dog. VCA Hospitals.", "Zaks, Karen L et al. Heinz body anemia in a dog that had been sprayed with skunk muskJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association vol. 226,9 (2005): 1516-8, 1500. doi:10.2460/javma.2005.226.1516" ;