Nestled between the mountains and the water and filled with high-end hilltop homes, North Vancouver looks good from afar. But the city has a secret - and it stinks to high heaven.

It's been a strong skunk season in the North Shore.

"At this time of year, the babies are starting to come out of the den sites with the mother and travel around and they're just learning how to spray and use their defense mechanism," said Randy Celinski, president of AAA Pest Control in Vancouver.

Not good news for the skunks' No. 1 target -- dogs.

Rob Goodall, owner of Success Dog Grooming in North Vancouver, says the number of "skunked" dogs coming into his business has gone up 20 to 25 percent compared to last year.

"There's a virus that caused a die off in the raccoon population," he said. "As a consequence the skunk population has boomed in their absence."

If you're dog has been freshly sprayed, try not to let it in the car or in the house, Goodall recommends. "Before you bring them to the shop, give then a bath in the backyard."

There are steps residents can take to make their homes less inviting to skunks.

Skunks like to create their dens under sheds or in crawl spaces underneath homes, Celinski said.

"Anywhere that's very enclosed and secure, they will utilize as a den site," he said.

But the reality is there's not much that can be done about the growing population of skunks.

"I think we just have to learn to live with them. I think they're residents on the North Shore and we just have to deal with them like they have to deal with us."

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson