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There is no mistaking the smell of skunk. Dogs and cats that have encountered skunks in the wild (or even in your backyard), are often the unfortunate victims of these smelly, dreaded, black and white striped little monsters. Have no fear! You can clear the air.

Skunk spray is not only irritating, it's hard on your pet's eyes. Before you do anything else, other than plug your nose, check your dog or cat's eyes for redness, swelling and irritation. Use an eyewash solution or plain water to rinse the eyes of your pet, if they show signs of being sprayed.

If weather permits, keep your pet outside and begin to wash him immediately. Bringing an animal that's just been skunked indoors means that you'll also be bringing the odor in with them.

When washing, wear latex or rubber gloves to protect your hands and scrub your pet well with a quality pet shampoo. Rinse. Repeat the process.

Experts have long promoted the use of tomato juice on animals who have been on the wrong end of skunk. This traditional remedy works wonders. Because tomatoes are highly acidic, they are able to quickly neutralize any of the skunk's oily, pungent odors that get trapped in your pet's coat.

After washing your pet, begin pouring tomato juice right out of the can and on to your pet. Depending on the size of your animal, you'll need between 4-8 large cans of juice. (A medium sized dog requires 2-4 large cans of tomato juice.) Once the juice has been applied, let it soak in for 10-20 minutes. Leave it on as long as your pet will tolerate. Following the rinse, shampoo again. If you can still smell an odor, repeat the process.

Note of caution: If you have an animal with white fur, after using tomato juice, you will have animal with pink or orange fur. Be prepared.

A bath or shower in vanilla will help to sweeten your four legged friend. Mix 2 cups of vanilla extract with a gallon of water and pour it over your pet. Let it soak in for fifteen minutes, then wash with shampoo and rinse thoroughly.

Believe it or not, this over-the-counter medicated women's product has been the recommended treatment of choice by pet groomers for years. For small to medium sized pets, mix two ounces of douche (the vinegar and water variety) with one gallon of water. Larger dogs will require double the amount of douche and water. Pour mixture over pet, allow it to soak in for 15 minutes, rinse. Follow this treatment with a regular shampoo and rinse.

It is possible to deskunk using only natural ingredients. Mix a formula of 1/4 cup baking soda and one teaspoon liquid soap in a quart of hydrogen peroxide. Work the concoction into your pet's fur, then rinse completely.

Many dog and cat owners have learned to stockpile deskunking remedies on the off-chance disaster may strike. Pet stores stock a wide variety of effective deodorant rinses, sprays and foams, especially made for cats and dogs. Often times, these products are easier to use because they come ready-made and already in spray or rinse form.

All it takes is one rub up against your leg from your furry friend to transfer Mr. Skunk's odor on to you. Minor smells can be washed out with a mixture of one cup laundry detergent and one cup baking soda. Bigger smells need more help, though. Try a laundry booster. Often times, they help to overpower the odor, and neutralize the smell. Mix one cup laundry booster in with your regular detergent. As load begins to wash, add 1/2 cup baking soda. If odor is still present, rewash.

Many over the counter treatments now target odors. These products are quite effective at removing skunk spray smells, as well. Spray treatment directly on clothing, allow to hang outdoors and then wash with a mixture of detergent and baking soda.
Caution: Do not wash skunk infested clothing with other clothes. You will only transfer the odor.

Worst case scenario: Your pet has been sprayed and dashes in the house and onto the furniture. What do you do? Before you do anything else, take the animals outside or into the bathroom, where you can turn on a fan. Once your furry friend has been taken care of, begin to treat the furniture. Pillows and furniture covers can be washed by hand or machine. Over the counter odor removers work well on upholstery, carpeting and drapes. If odor continues to linger, sprinkle two cups of banking soda and 1/2 cup salt on carpeting and allow to stand over night. Vacuum in the morning.

Skunks are everywhere these days, according to veterinarians, and they've learned to do quite well in urban environments. You can help to protect yourself and your pet by following these general guidelines:

1. Make sure there are no holes beneath your house that a skunk can enter. Skunks love cool, dark areas.
2. If a skunk has already moved into dark areas around or inside your home, wait until he wanders out at night and then, seal up the hole. Be certain there are no babies left behind. If there are, you may want to call your local Animal Control Office.
3. Skunks go where there's food. If you feed your animal outside, don't leave the food out overnight. Skunks love cat and dog food.
4. Use garbage cans that close securely.

How do you know if you're walking into skunk territory? Let your nose be your guide. Skunk travel at night. Most of the time, you'll catch a whiff of them before you see them. Stay away from garbage areas, wood piles, brush and dumpsters, and you're likely to be safe. Believe it or not, you can smell a skunk even before they've let you know they're there. Follow your nose.