NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: Our home is surrounded by woods, so we are frequently visited by wild animals. Unfortunately, this includes skunks.
Our Lab has been sprayed three times. Of those three encounters, he has killed two of the skunks. Can you tell me if there is anything we can put around the yard to repel skunks?
— K.O., Suffolk, Va.
Dear K.O: Depending on the size of your yard, the best solution would be to out-skunk the skunks with a 5-foot-high fence. Skunks are not climbers, but they are diggers, so have at least 1 foot of the wire barrier buried under the ground.
Alternatively, remove all brush and places where skunks might hide, including under your house or porch, where a decorative lattice fence may be needed. Before you let the dog out, turn on a hose and spray any areas where skunks might be hiding — they do not like getting soaked. Or make a loud noise by banging kitchen utensils; such aversive auditory conditioning is a good wildlife repellant.
Dear Dr. Fox: I don’t put anti-flea/tick medication on my Maltese, but I found a tick on her last week. That scared me, but I don’t like to think of putting the medications on her.
I don’t have Internet access, so I was wondering if you have any pamphlets or books concerning this? I would gladly purchase one. I am taking Buffy to get her yearly shots, and I will ask the vet about this.
Buffy had a serious skin problem 1 1/2 years ago. She is now on a grain-free diet that has definitely helped.
Any information you would share will be greatly appreciated.
— R.H., Pinckneyville, Ill.
A related letter:
Dear Dr. Fox: I am writing to respond to your column where you expressed what I would describe as disdain for people who use “potentially hazardous insecticides ... to prevent flea infestation. That’s like taking antibiotics to prevent infection.”