Skunk Spray: Recipe for Removal

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

Those of us in west central Indiana who have nosy furry friends run the risk of a skunk encounter.

I’m wondering what goes through the mind of these dogs.

(Aside:  Cats rarely do this.  Cat lovers:  Yet another reason to love your kitty.)

The thought process.  “What is this strange creature?  I feel magnetically drawn to this black and white thing.  It smells DELICIOUS.  I can’t help myself, it’s new and I’m going to investigate.”  SkunkOR:

“What the heck is that thing?  It’s in my territory.  I’m going to chase it off my property.”

The plan:  “I’m going to approach, stick my nose as close to it as possible, and see what happens.”

OR:

“I’m going to run after it and let it know I mean business.”

Either scenario often ends in the same way.

Scared skunk + Dog in face = Dog sprayed by skunk

And if you have ever been around a dog that has been sprayed, some things may surprise you:

1.  The seemingly huge quantity of fluid that the skunk can spray.  I’m talking I’ve seen big dogs dripping wet after a bath in this stuff.

2.  How (relatively) easy it can be to rid your dog of the smell.

The Recipe:  1 tsp. dish soap, 1 quart peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda.  Mix well and work into dog’s coat, rinse well.  (Caution:  The Recipe will fade upholstery and fabrics so wear old clothes when cleaning up your dog! )

Alternatively, there are some commercial products such as Skunk Off which we carry and also works well.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that Original Gold Listerine worked into the hair and rinsed can help too.

Be careful with all of these products around the eyes and face.  They can all irritate the eyes and should be avoided in that area.Skunks are not friends

Other tips:

Inside the house, allow for good ventilation and useFebreze to help with smell.

If your dog has been sprayed directly in the face, you may need to take them to your veterinarian to check the eyes for irritation and/or check for anemia, which can happen if the spray gets into the bloodstream.

Remind your furry puppy friend that skunks are not cats with stripes!

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Summer in Indiana = Ear Infections in Dogs

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

Has your favorite furry friend been shaking his head more than usual?  (If you’re nodding YOUR head, read on!)

Dog shaking head He’s not the only one.  In the last few weeks, WCVS Veedersburg has seen an influx of dogs that are shaking their heads and scratching at their ears.  Typically, owners notice this behavior first and then lift the ear flap and see this:

otitis externa dogs

That’s an ear infection. Red and painful. Often the skin does not look smooth, as it should: instead, it has a bumpy, “cobblestone” appearance. Not fun for Fido.

Yikes!  Am I right?  Usually it’s smelly too.  Poor furry friend.

What’s happening here?

There are a number of causes behind ear infections in canines.  Here are the major contributors:

Hot, humid weather of summer creates a moist, warm environment inside the ear canal.  Bacteria and yeast LOVE a dark, humid ear canal to grow in.  And they get out of control quickly.  We’re talking normal to infection in 24-48 hours.

Water in the ear.  Swimming, bathing.  Running through the sprinklers with the kids.  A little bit of water down in the ear canal can really start an infection going.  Bacteria don’t grow in large numbers in a dry, ventilated ear.Excessive head shaking

Poor ventilation.  Flop-eared dogs, we are talking about you!.  Poodles, cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers are famously prone to ear infections because that beautiful ear flap covers the ear canal and closes off all air movement.  Sometimes there are lots of hair down in the canal too.  Bacteria and yeast LOVE this stagnant environment.  They are really partying down there.

Allergies.  This is a major player in summer ear infections.  Allergies can be seasonal (i.e. the body over-reacts to certain trees, flowers, grasses), can be related to allergens inside the house, or can even be related to food.  This inflammation causes a break-down in normal function of the ear canal and allows for overgrowth of bacteria and yeast.

Other less common causes include growths inside the ear canal, narrow ear canals, and other genetic predispositions to the disease.

And, for extra fun, often dogs have more than one cause behind the infection that needs to be addressed.

So what needs to be done when you see this problem at home?

1.  Have your dog’s veterinarian do a thorough physical examination and assessment of the ears.

2.  Often dogs will need a medication given directly into the ear for several days to help clear up infection.  Sometimes this involves getting a sample of ear material and looking at it microscopically to help identify the bug that we are fighting.  Sometimes it might involve sending off a sample for a culture/sensitivity test to see what the culprit is and what drug will kill the infection.

3.  Depending upon the inciting cause, oral medications may be prescribed as well.

4.  Sometimes we even have to flush and clean out the ear here at the clinic, or send home ear cleaner to be used in addition to ear antibiotic/antifungals.

For some dogs, this can become a more chronic problem.  It is best in these situations to have a developed relationship with your furry friend’s veterinarian, so that over time you as a team can diagnose and find a good solution for the long-term care of the ears.

If a dog’s case becomes complicated or doesn’t respond to our care, we can refer to a veterinary dermatologist for further care.  For example, we sometimes see chronic ear infections that cause scarring inside the small ear canals.  Eventually this results in narrow, dark tunnels that are constantly infected and become a long-term source of pain.  These cases can require surgery to open up the ear and stop the cycle of infection.