My dog took a blast to the face last year, and bravo to the skunk that did it to her. I saw that bugger take aim and spray (while I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” in slow motion running as fast as I could) and my poor mutt took the offensive spray clean in her kisser. Oi vay. Yiking and face rubbing ensued, and I rushed my dog home from the canal we were running on as quickly as I could, her whining and yelping and yiking in pain and shock the whole way home.
When you take a skunk spray right in your eyes, nose, and mouth, it makes the ordeal that much more excruciating. That crap stings, and even being near a sprayed individual can burn your nose, eyes, and sting your mouth. Also, skunk spray is highly sulfurous and acidic, so my dog quickly got huge blisters around her eyes and her eyes were squeezed shut and she was pawing at them frantically. A quick call to the vet confirmed that no, my dog would likely not go blind from the assault, but flushing the eyes with cool water and then flushing them with an eye solution (not for contacts, but a sterile solution for the eyes) would be my best bet.
The first thing you should do if you or your dog gets sprayed in the face is quickly run the eyes under cool water, holding the eyes open for 20 minutes in the water stream. This helps to flush out the spray as much as possible. I had to hold my dog down and then pull back on her forehead skin to get her eyes to stay open while my brother poured glass after glass of water over her eyes and face.
The vet said if I had no sterile eye solution (of course I didn’t) he said that using salt water was fine to flush out the eye. He said to boil a cup of water on the stove, and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the mix and then apply it to my dog’s eyes once it cooled down. Not wanting to wait that long, I asked if regular hot water would be fine with salt mixed in. Yup, he said, just apply when it’s lukewarm with an eyedropper, and mix it up good. I had a turkey baster so I used that instead. I let the “saline solution” sit on the counter to cool while we flushed out my dog’s eyes with water, then squirted her eyes with the salt water 3 times per eye (as the vet instructed, up to 3 times a day until the symptoms subsided), and watched her improve.
My dog got better after about 2 days. My vet told me if she continued to suffer from ulcers or blisters on her eyes, or appeared to be in serious distress or continued rubbing at her eyes or refusing to open them, to bring her in to check for lasting damage (he said it was rare, but possible that a skunk spray could cause very serious damage). Immediately after flushing her eyes and using the salt solution, my dog was able to open her eyes. They watered, a lot, and she was blinking like her eyes were having seizures, but she appeared to be getting better, and within 2 days the eye rubbing and watering stopped and she was good as new.
So, flush out your eyes with cool water as soon as you can for 20 minutes, and then use either salt water (1/2 teaspoon per cup of water- boil it if you can to make it more sterile for the eye) and flush your eye out thrice daily for a few days until the symptoms disappear. Blistering around the eyes is normal, and you or your pet should not need emergency care unless the pain actually worsens over time or does not improve in 24 hours. If you have any concerns at all, of course call your local vet (or the hospital if it’s you who has been blasted) to get further help or advice. All I can say is, my dog took a whoopin’ from that skunk, and these simple methods worked out just fine for her.
(You can also flush your eyes with green tea or parsley tea to relieve pain and irritation- had I had these items handy I would have used them on my dog, but the sterile solution or salt water works great as well).
My personal vet (Ark Animal Hospital)
Personal experience that it worked for my poor dog