February is the month of love – Valentine’s Day is a major holiday for humans, and February kicks off mating season for skunks. Pepe Le Pew is a fictional character from the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes series of cartoons, first introduced in 1945. Depicted as a French striped skunk, Pepe is constantly in search of love, but his offensive skunk odor and aggressive pursuit of romance cause everyone to run away from him. I guess I thought everyone was familiar with this obnoxious, lovable character, but sadly, today’s kids have never heard of him, and his pursuit of Penelope Pussycat, a cat who often has a white stripe painted down her back, usually caused by some accident such as squeezing under a fence with wet white paint.

Anyway, most skunks are ready to play the mating game in February, and the stink usually occurs when males try to court females who are simply “not in the mood for love.” When that happens, female skunks generate an aroma to repel their potential suitors. According to HSUS Urban Wildlife representatives, “Skunks are gentle, non-aggressive creatures who have wrongly earned a bad reputation because of their offensive odor. People don’t appreciate the benefits they provide by eating grubs, insects, mice, and baby rats.”

As for a human being sprayed by a skunk, it is unlikely. When alarmed, they are actually more afraid of you than you are of them, so if you know you have some on your property, make some noise warning them when you go outside to let them know you are coming, and they generally run away (They usually come out at dawn and dusk). Skunks give off a warning when alarmed by stamping their front feet, and if you don’t bother them, they will most likely not bother you. However, dogs are curious and if they ignore a skunk’s warning, they will likely get sprayed.

An Ode to the Skunk

Waddling around everywhere, a skunk is prepared to begin his affair.

Then he is bothered by a nosey dog barking at him while he perches on a log.

The dog growls with all of his delight, but nearsighted skunk has love in his sight.

Then the dog attacks him without his consent, so the docile skunk lets out his scent.

Confused and somewhat afraid, the dog knows that he is outplayed,

The skunk patiently sits on his log, knowing he won’t be bothered again by that dog.

He knows that love is in the air, and is eagerly anticipating an affair.

If your dog is outside a lot, it is very possible that he will come in contact with a skunk, and although skunk spray is not usually a medical emergency, it is potentially painful for your pet, especially if it hits the face. If your pet gets sprayed, before doing anything else, check his eyes. If they are watering or red, he probably took a direct hit It is important to wash them out with warm water (or sterile saline solution if you have it.) Forget a tomato juice bath….very messy and very ineffective, and regular pet shampoo won’t get rid of the odor either. There are many commercial “deskunkers” , but we have found that a simple homemade concoction is the best:

  •  Mix in a large bucket:
  •  One quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • One fourth cup baking soda
  • One teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap or pet shampoo
  • (The mixture will fizz)

Wet your pet’s coat down with luke-warm water and apply the homemade solution on his wet coat. Rub it in with a sponge or washcloth while the mixture bubbles, and leave it on for several minutes. Although the solution is not toxic, avoid getting it in your dog’s eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. We suggest putting a protective eye ointment into his eyes, and a couple cotton balls in the ears before you begin soaping. Rinse thoroughly, and then rinse again! Don’t let your pet ingest any of the mixture, and toss whatever is left because it will pop the lid off any container because of the gas that’s generated. Just hope there won’t be another stinky encounter for a long time, and if you would enjoy watching a few Pepe escapades, just Google: Looney tunes, PepeLePew, and you will find the original cartoons.