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Skunked Dog? What To Do If Your Dog Meets a Wild Animal

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german shepherd dog resting on a porch in the woods

Do you know what to do if your dog gets skunked? Or finds themselves too up close and personal with a wild animal? Get tips to help protect your dog in these situations.

Dogs Versus Skunks

Skunks mostly eat insects and small rodents, and they generally won’t have much interest in your dog. However, if they feel cornered or threatened, they will raise their tail and spray a foul-smelling mist.

Skunks will often let you know they’re getting ready to spray by hissing and stomping around. This may give you time to move your dog out of the spray zone, which can reach around 7 to 15 feet.

Can Skunk Spray Harm a Dog?

Skunk spray can cause severe irritation and burning, particularly around the eyes and nose. It can also cause temporary breathing issues if the mist is inhaled.

Dogs may react to the spray by rolling around on the ground, pawing at their face, sneezing, vomiting, and acting as if they’ve been blinded. While these reactions can seem scary to us, most dogs will feel better in time.

Some dogs may experience a very rare condition known as skunk toxic shock syndrome, where compounds in the skunk’s spray (called thioacetates) damage the dog’s red blood cells. Signs of this disorder include:

  • Pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. It is a life-threatening situation.

Skunks and Rabies

Skunks can carry rabies, which is a horrific disease that causes symptoms like excessive thirst, increased aggression, and frothing at the mouth. Rabies is transferred through saliva, not skunk spray, so it’s possible your dog can contract it through the bite of an infected skunk.

Don’t panic if you suspect your dog got bit by a skunk. If your pooch is up-to-date on their rabies vaccine, they should have protection against this disorder.

In any case, you should take your pup to the veterinarian as soon as possible. They can properly clean the bite wound and determine whether or not other treatments are needed, such as antibiotics or a booster rabies shot.

Rabies vaccines are required in certain states to help control this deadly disease. Learn more about vaccines and your dog.

What To Do if Your Dog Gets Skunked

If your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, you can rinse their nose and eyes with tepid water or saline solution to try to alleviate the burning sensation. Just be careful you don’t get hurt. Even the sweetest dog can nip or bite when they’re in pain or upset. 

Once your dog has calmed down, you’ll want to get that awful odor out of their coat. It’s a myth that tomato juice is the best way to de-skunk your pup, so don’t reach for those cans. Here’s the best way to bathe your dog after getting sprayed:

  • Create a mixture of 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and a teaspoon or two of dish detergent.
  • Use it to wash your dog outside so you don’t bring the smell inside your home. You should also wear gloves and an old shirt that you can toss out when you’re done.
  • Work it into your dog’s fur and leave it on for at least 5 minutes. Be careful not to get the solution in your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Rinse your dog thoroughly with warm water.

You may need to repeat this a few times to remove the scent. You can also follow up with a dog shampoo if you like.

Dogs who are neutered are less likely to try to get outside to find a mate where they may encounter a wild animal.

What To Do if a Coyote Attacks Your Dog

Coyotes are part of life in some areas of the country. Adult coyotes are not huge animals. They’re about the size of a medium dog. But they’re extremely fast and highly effective predators. They can do a lot of damage to a dog, especially smaller breeds, such as Pugs or Yorkshire Terrier.

Avoid running away if you come across a coyote on your walk. This can trigger the animal to chase you down. Instead, boldly face them while maintaining your distance and haze them. Wave your arms and make loud noises by yelling or clapping (or use a whistle or air horn if you have one) to try to scare them away. 

If your dog is attacked by a coyote, take them to the veterinarian right away, even if they don’t seem too badly hurt. Your dog could have internal bleeding and injuries that need to be treated. Coyotes can also carry rabies, although this is rare.

Do you have coyotes in your area? You’ll need to take precautions to keep your dog safe. For instance, walk them on a non-retractable leash, so you have better control of them. Carry bear repellant or pepper spray. You can also outfit your dog with a special vest to help protect their neck and torso in case of an attack.

vizsla dog on a walk in the woods

Do Raccoons Attack Dogs?

Healthy raccoons typically don’t pick fights with dogs. However, your dog could frighten a raccoon and cause it to lash out. Raccoons who are sick, hurt, or have babies nearby may also attack a dog.

If your dog gets into a scrape with a raccoon, contact your veterinarian. Raccoons are infamous for carrying rabies, and you’ll want to make sure your dog is up-to-date on their rabies vaccine. In addition, your veterinarian can assess their injuries and clean any scratches to help prevent infection.

It’s helpful to avoid leaving food outside so as not to attract raccoons or other wild animals to your yard. Also, be sure to close and safely secure your garbage cans, so pesky critters don’t tip them over for a meal.

What To Do if a Deer Attacks Your Dog

Deer are generally docile creatures who aren’t looking to hurt other animals. They’re foragers, not hunters. However, deer can attack if they feel threatened, especially if they have young fawns in tow. Bucks are also known to attack during mating or rutting season when they are naturally more aggressive.

If you spot a deer while walking your dog, steer clear, especially if you see antlers or young ones nearby. If a deer looks like they might attack, try hazing them as you would a coyote. Stand your ground, wave your arms, and make loud noises to scare them away. Contact your veterinarian if your dog is injured by a deer.

What To Do if a Bear Attacks Your Dog

With their large size, sharp claws, and strong jaws, bears can be deadly animals. If you see a bear while walking your dog, don’t stop or run. Keep moving at a steady pace with firm control over your dog, and ignore the bear. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pass by safely. 

If your dog grapples with a bear, avoid the temptation to rush in to save them, or you could get badly hurt. Maintain a safe distance and try to scare the bear with loud noises or a hose if you have one handy. Be sure to seek veterinary care right after the attack.

Animal Attacks and Pet Insurance

If your dog does get hurt by a wild animal, pet insurance can help you manage the cost of care. It can cover treatment for bite wounds, scratches, and transmittable illnesses, like rabies. Learn more about what’s covered.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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