What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Sprayed by Skunk


Skunks are black and white, about the size of a house cat, and have a large, bushy tail. There are two species of skunks found in the U.S., the Striped Skunk and Spotted Skunk. Both species produce a pungent,oily, sulfurous liquid from scent glands under the tail, which can be accurately sprayed up to 10 feet when the skunk is threatened or surprised. Skunks are far more active at night. Most episodes of spraying of domestic animals therefore occur at night.

Horses can sometimes be sprayed by skunks. This usually happens when a horse approaches a skunk out of curiosity. The skunk feels threatened or surprised and defends itself by spraying the horse. Skunk spray initially can burn the eyes, causing a horse to vigorously rub its face and eyes on its front limbs or fences and walls.

Skunks are a common carrier of rabies, leptospirosis and other diseases. Healthy skunks generally avoid humans and are nocturnal. A skunk that is out and about during the day, and/or seems overly tame or aggressive might have the viral disease rabies and should be avoided, or destroyed and removed carefully wearing gloves.

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What To Do

If your horse or dog is sprayed by a skunk, here is a home remedy reported to be effective and safe on both animals and clothing. Be sure to keep the mixture out of a horse's or dog's eyes. After soaking the animal in the solution, rinse well with water.

1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
and 1 teaspoon liquid soap

The mixture must be used right away as it rapidly becomes ineffective. Discard any remnants by diluting with water and pouring down a drain.

Reduce the likelihood of skunks coming into contact with your horses. Skunks live under barns, homes and outbuildings. Blocking off access to these areas can reduce the skunk populations in an area.

If your horse has sustained additional, secondary injuries as a result of coming into contact with a skunk, contact your vet with your questions and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not approach skunks that seem overly tame or are aggressive. They might have rabies.

Do not handle or trap skunks if you are not experienced in doing so.

In most cases, you should never feed skunks or other wildlife.

When trying to remove scent from an animal, do not accidentally get mixture in eyes.

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Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP