I remember a few years ago one summer night I let my dog out to do his business before bedtime. When I opened the door to let him back in I was faced with the most foul smell I've ever smelled. I knew right away it was skunk. He had been sprayed right on his chest! He ran into the house and into his crate, I frantically got him out, then he ran into our bedroom carrying that odor all throughout the house with him! Now there's an experience you will never forget! We quickly scoured the internet in search of a solution to get him cleaned and deodorized and also to get the smell out of the house. Just what we wanted to do at 1:00 in the morning! Here are a few tips I've come across and what personally worked for us...
The skunk is not an aggressive animal, but if threatened it will act in self-defense. When a skunk is startled is makes a warning sound like a purr or growl before emitting its sulphuric spray (mercaptan). It will warn its target by raising its tail, standing on its hind legs and stomping its feet. The oily spray is not only extremely foul smelling, but very hard to get out of a dog's fur. The quicker you act, the more chance you have of removing the odor. If you don't act quickly, skunk odor can remain for up to two years, especially when the dog gets wet.
Store Bought De-Skunking Products
There are several commercially made skunk odor removing products you can buy in most pet stores or on the internet. Most of these work well. You might consider purchasing a product to keep on hand.
Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover
Earth Friendly Skunk Odor Remover
Earth's Balance - Skunk Free
Petastic - Skunk Odor Eliminator
BioWorld Odor Neutralizer (BON-CC-41)
You may not always have any of these products on hand when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, and usually the encounter happens at night when pet stores are closed, so here are some alternative home remedies...
Tomato Juice Method
Saturating your dog's coat in tomato juice and then bathing the dog with dog shampoo is a controversial method. Some say it works, most say it doesn't. Some say it will leave your dog's coat all red. Tomato juice only masks the odor, but doesn't remove it. You'll end up with a dog smelling of skunk AND tomato juice!
Hydrogen Peroxide/Baking Soda/Dish Soap Method
This is the method we used and it worked wonders. Use paper towels to wipe off any oily spray that has not yet soaked in to the fur. In a bucket or bowl, mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap (Dawn is preferred). The mixture will fizz. Wet your dog and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat. You might want to wear a pair of rubber gloves. Be sure to avoid eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Use a washcloth or sponge and gently and carefully wash face if necessary. Let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the dog thoroughly. Repeat if necessary with a fresh batch.
WARNING: Do not store unused portion of this mixture in an enclosed container. it will fizz, creating pressure and could be explosive. Discard any leftover.
This method works because skunk spray is composed of a low molecular weight thiol compound. In industrial applications, alkaline hydrogen peroxide is used for scrubbing similar compounds from waste gas streams. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, when combined, become a "chemical engine" for churning out oxygen. The soap breaks up the oils in the skunk spray, allowing the other ingredients to do their work.
You can use a little milk for the eyes and nose if they were sprayed on the face.
Removing Skunk Odor From the House
Depending on the season, open windows if you can, and turn on fans.
You can sprinkle baking soda on carpets and allow to sit overnight then vacuum up.
Using several ceramic or glass bowls, try any of the following and place the bowls around the house (out of reach of pets or children) to soak up the odor:
Saturate cotton balls with real vanilla extract, place in bowls
Apple cider vinegar (organic is best)
Fresh coffee grounds
We did the coffee grounds and apple cider vinnegar and the smell was all gone in a day.
For your clothing, soak in vinegar overnight, then Dawn dish soap, then launder.
Sources: dogbreedinfo.com; drydog.com; wisegeek.com; dogs.about.com; petcare.suite101.com; home-remedy.org; grandmashomeremedies.com; buzzle.com
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.