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What You Should Do When Your Dog Rolls In These 3 Disgusting Things—According To Veterinarians

Natural nontoxic fixes for close encounters with dead animals, skunk spray, and poop.

Natural nontoxic fixes for close encounters with dead animals, skunk spray, and poop.


By Janine M. Kahn, Rodale's Organic Life.

There’s a special brand of horror reserved exclusively for the dog owner whose pup is gleefully rolling in a seagull carcass. I know this firsthand, having been that person yelling “leave it!” at my Italian Greyhound, Mr. Moxie, as he dive-bombed the dead thing, rubbing its essence into his fur, and making sure eau de gull perfumed our car ride home.

There are a lot of theories around why dogs feel the need to cover themselves in the grossest things known to man. “Some people feel it may be related to an instinctual need to camouflage their scent for hunting purposes,” says Dr. Justin M. Cates, DVM, a veterinarian at Alberta Veterinary Care in Portland, OR. “Other people think it may be related to marking territory or communicating to their pack that they are effective hunters.”

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“My best guess is that things that smell bad to us smell good to dogs” says Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM, Medical Director at the North Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic in San Mateo, CA. “So, if a dog likes the way something smells, he wants to be covered in that smell. But this is nothing but speculation. Only dogs know why they roll in stinky stuff.”

While the “why” is murky, the “what to do next” in a smelly encounter is not.

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What to do when your dog rolls in a dead animal

“One of the grossest things we’ve seen is a dog that rolled in dead fish on the beach,” says Michelle Drnek, co-founder of aTobiko Organic Dog Care. When your pup romps in the dead thing, the first step to getting him back to smelling good starts pre-bath.



Start with a thorough brushing

“Brushing your dog before the bath can help get rid of any loose fur, matting and debris. There are brushes for different coat types— find out whether your pup needs a slicker brush, rake brush, bristle or pin brush,” says Drnek. After this, make a beeline for the bathtub for a thorough shampoo. (Brushing is also one of 13 simple things you can do to keep your dog healthy.)



Shampoo

When you’re dealing with dead animal, “a degreasing shampoo is the best way to get heavy smells out of the coat.” Says Amanda Thomas, a groomer at Nature’s Pet, a national chain of eco-conscious pet supply stores.

Try it: Earthbath All Natural Dirty Dog Orange Peel Oil Pet Shampoo uses orange oil, which has long been recognized as an effective deodorizer, degreaser, and fur stain remover to gently remove the nasty bits of whatever your dog has frolicked in.



Let the suds sink in

If your dog is particularly stinky, leave the foamy shampoo in his coat for up to 10 minutes before rinsing. “Repeat as needed, using a gentle but thorough rubbing and rinsing action,” says Drnek. “Remember that you do not want to add fragrances to mask odors, you want to clean away the source of the odor.”



Rinse well

"When washing, it is imperative to rinse thoroughly,” says Thomas. “The term ‘squeaky clean’ is the best way to describe a completely-rinsed coat. When you think the dog is rinsed, pet the wet coat, if you feel a ‘squeak’ the dog is rinsed and ready to start drying.”



What to do when your dog gets skunked


Contain the smell


“Gently and securely wrap the sprayed area with a blanket, towel or other disposable material,” says Drnek. “You will likely need a helping hand to keep the wrap in place and help keep your dog calm while you prepare. Be understanding towards your pup as his nose is much more sensitive to the skunk smell. It may help to distract your dog with treats or toys.” (Here are 6 more ways to calm your dog’s anxiety naturally.)


Apply this hydrogen peroxide mix


“In a metal bowl, combine baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid dish soap (I prefer unscented Seventh Generation),” says Julia Szabo, author of a variety of books on dogs, including Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish & Spotless. “Carefully bathe Spot with this mixture, which works like a deodorizing bleach, but be diligent about avoiding the eyes, as this concoction burns sensitive tissue. Rinse well with lukewarm water, and repeat if necessary.”

A 2004 episode of MythBusters confirms that Szabo’s home remedy is effective. After experimenting with a variety of so-called solutions for de-skunking (covering your dog in beer, tomato paste, and feminine hygiene products), the combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap emerged the victor.



Why does this work? Dr. Barchas, whose own Labrador, Buster, was skunked (and then de-skunked with this same recipe) breaks it down:

“Skunk spray contains thiols, which, if you think back to your second semester of organic chemistry, you’ll recall are compounds containing carbon and sulfur with hydrogen bonded to the sulfur. Thiols have notoriously strong odors. Hydrogen peroxide is a potent oxidizer. The skunk bath recipe works by oxidizing the thiols into compounds called disulfides, which are not so smelly.”


Finish with a shampoo


Finally, lather up Spot with your favorite dog shampoo, rinse and towel dry.


What to do when your dog rolls in poop

A thorough brushing and shampoo should be enough to deal with poop‑just be sure to thoroughly remove the material that’s the source of the smell, rather than just covering it up with shampoo fragrance. (And while we’re on the subject, here are 6 things your dog’s poop can tell you about its health.)


Grab the gloves

“Use rubber dishwashing gloves with lots of grip or even a well suited dog brush to manually wipe off the stain during the wash/lather/soak/rinse steps,” says Drnek.



Add citrus to the bath water

“I recommend adding orange peel, as the citrus breaks down the grease,” says Amanda Thomas. (You can use citrus around the house, too—here are 12 things you can clean with a lemon.)

Take your timeAs with washing away the stink from a roll in animal carcasses, give the shampoo time to sink in–10 minutes at least—and rinse thoroughly.

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Lifestyle Magazine: What You Should Do When Your Dog Rolls In These 3 Disgusting Things—According To Veterinarians
What You Should Do When Your Dog Rolls In These 3 Disgusting Things—According To Veterinarians
Natural nontoxic fixes for close encounters with dead animals, skunk spray, and poop.
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