Dogs are naturally curious. They love making new friends and want to give all creatures large and small a good sniff. Unfortunately, this curiosity can lead to smelly results if your pup happens to come across a skunk while roaming outside.
The first thing pet owners typically think when their dog tracks that familiar odor into the house is, “How do I get the skunk smell off my dog as fast as possible?” However, if your dog has been sprayed by a skunk in close quarters, the unpleasant scent might be the least of your worries, warns Dr. Erika Loftin, a veterinarian at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
Skunk musk, when directed at the sensitive areas of a dog’s body, can actually have some pretty serious health consequences. “Skunk spray can be harmful if your dog is sprayed in the eyes or mouth, and you should seek veterinary treatment immediately,” Loftin tells The Dodo. “Skunk spray can damage the eyes and may cause temporary blindness. It can also cause vomiting if ingested. However, if your dog is sprayed anywhere else on the body, it’s not harmful — just smelly.”
When a dog returns from his outdoors adventure smelling worse for wear, owners should first check their dog’s eyes, looking for redness, watering and irritation. If it seems the dog has been sprayed in the face, rinse his eyes with cool water, and head over to your emergency vet for further treatment.