Saturday, December 09, 2006

Over-the-Counter Skunk Treatments

I am pro-frugality and pro-foresight, which is a nice way of saying that I try to keep my dogs alive and I also try to avoid paying a veterinarian $80 for a well-puppy visit. I give my dogs their vaccine shots (and you can too), micro-chip my own dogs (and you can too), and take care of basic health care problems ranging from small hunting-related injuries to ear and urinary tract infections, ringworm, and even Lyme Disease treatment (and you can too).

If you have already bought a copy of American Working Terriers, you know this book is a practical guide to saving money on canine health care, as well as a practical guide to working terriers (with a chapter or two on canine history and wildlife thrown in). The notes on antibiotics, SuperGlue and 15-cent Deben locator collar batteries alone make this book a bargain.

So is there anything I left out? Well sure. I left out where to get epinephrine and acetylcysteine for less. Both of these drugs are very useful things to have in your kit if your dog is skunked underground and does not appear to be shaking it off very quickly.

Needless to say, being skunked above ground is no big deal, except for the smell. Underground, however, a dog can easily be overcome by fumes and undergo skunk toxic shock, a kind of Heinz Body Anemia. The most important thing you need to know if your dog is skunked undergound, and is not breathing when you get to it, is how to administer CPR to a dog.

If a dog is gotten out of the ground breathing, it is probably going to be all right. In some rare cases, however, a dog's airway can swell up, constricting breathing. In addition, a dog's lungs, liver and kidneys can have a hard time clearing the toxin from the dog's system. In such a situation, a dog can die from skunk toxic shock, which is why having a couple of good off-the-shelf medications in your vet kit is a good idea.

If your dog's throat is constricting, and it is having trouble breathing, epinephrine can help. Epinephrine (also called adrenaline) is the primary ingredient in over-the-counter Primatene Mist. This stuff is used to decrease the swelling and clear the airtract of folks suffering from asthma attacks, and it has the same effect on a dog that has been skunked underground. A good thing to have in your kit.

Acetylcysteine, or mucomyst, is a kind of expectorant that helps clear the lungs and also strengthens liver functions, especially in cases of toxicosis. N-acetylcysteine is commonly sold in health food stores and online without a prescription. Try Google and Froogle (search: n-acetyl-cysteine) if you cannot get it at your local health food, vitamin, or drug store. When administering acetylcysteine to a dog, give a 140 mg loading dose for every kilogram of body weight. Since the average working terrier weighs about 6 kilos, a 900-mg initial dose should be about right.

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