“Do you smell skunk?” That’s a question no dog owner wants to hear. That’s doubly true for people who have malamutes and other really furry, double coated dogs. A malamute’s luxurious fur absorbs more skunk odor and keeps it longer than shorter haired dogs. Skunks abound here in Southern New Hampshire, so if you have malamutes you should expect a dog/skunk encounter sooner or later.
Here’s the scenario: It’s a warm muggy night in the spring or fall. You send your malamutes out into the fenced yard to do their thing before bed. Instead of ambling out like normal, the dogs tear out the door and head for the far end of the yard. You realize what’s probably up and take off after them screaming “no”, “stop”, “leave it”, and every other command you can think of to get the dogs to turn back. But it’s too late. You hear a few growls, woos and woofs, and then you smell it; actually you taste it because it’s so close and so stong! Your mals have been skunked!
What is it with malamutes and skunks? Yes, mals love to chase all kinds of animals and you can understand why a cat-sized skunk would be no exception. But after repeated sprayings why don’t they learn to leave these black and white critters alone? The AKC’s description of the Alaskan malamute talks about the intelligence and dignity of the breed. But it kind of makes you wonder when you see your 10 year old alpha male rolling around trying to rub off the stinging, stinking skunk spray, especially since you’ve gone through this with him at least twice a year, every year since you’ve had him!
So what do you do?
1. Make sure the dogs cannot get back into the house.
- Shut the house door, block the dog door.
- It’s a good idea to close all windows on the skunked side of the house too.
2. Put on some old clothes and rubber gloves.
- In dealing with the dogs you will get the smell on you; you don’t want to be wearing your Sunday best for that!
- Skunks can carry rabies; the gloves will help protect you.
3. Get out your skunk stuff – if you’re a savvy malamute owner you already have what you need so you’re ready to spring into action whenever the malodorous event occurs.
- There are tons of commercial products and home remedies and some are better than others
- Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover is a good product that actually lives up to the claims on the bottle. You should use this first before anything else. You apply it full-strength and allow it to dry completely. It contains enzymes that remove most of the skunk smell as it drys. Use a cloth to apply it to the dog’s face and avoid getting it in the eyes. A spray bottle works well on the rest of the dog; really wet them down with it.
- After the Nature’s Miracle stuff is completely dry (probably next morning), sniff the dogs and see how they smell. If you got lucky and they only got a light spray you may be all set. But you hardly ever get lucky with dog/skunk encounters so be prepared to continue in the smell eradication exercise.
- De-Skunk by Synergy Labs is used just like a dog shampoo and does a good job if used after the Nature’s Miracle stuff. Set up like you would for normal dog baths and go at it. Hopefully you’ll have help as bathing a skunky dog is better when shared with a loved one or good friend!
- While bathing the dogs it’s OK to tell them how idiotic they are and how you’re thinking of trading them in for a bowl of goldfish. But say it in a pleasant tone of voice. They’re already traumatized and it’s important that they know you still love them, even if they do smell horrible.
Both Nature’s Miracle and De-Skunk are readily available here in skunk-ridden New Hampshire. Try your favorite pet supply place or an Agway store.
If you’re not into commercial products and want to try a home remedy, many people swear by this recipe:
1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Liquid Dish Soap
- Mix together in an open container (it will foam)
- Immediately work into dog’s fur
- Wait 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly
There are lots ofother home remedies, mostly involving tomato juice and/or vinegar, but they really aren’t that effective. Tomato juice is pretty ineffective and will temporarily dye white fur a lovely shade of orange. Vinegar will make your dogs smell like a salad with undertones of skunk!
Rest assured, whatever you use your dogs will smell better than if you did nothing. But be prepared for a faint skunk essence to remain for a while, especially on rainy days. The good news is that time cures everything and eventually your furry friends will be back to their sweet smelling selves. What’s a little skunk stink compared to the rewards of living with Alaskan Malamutes?