Reviewed and updated for accuracy on February 3, 2020, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
If your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, you know instantly what has happened. The smell is undeniable.
As panic sets in and the stench grows stronger, you don’t know what to do next. How do you get rid of the smell? What if the smell infiltrates your house?
Skunk oil—and its smell—can linger for up to a year if not entirely removed from your dog’s skin and coat, which makes effectively cleaning your dog quickly after a skunk incident essential.
So, where do you start?
What to Do First If Your Dog Is Sprayed by a Skunk
Dogs will often be sprayed in the face, so start there and flush out any skunk spray residue that may have gotten in your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
“The first thing to do is to check your dog’s eyes,” says Dr. Susan Konecny, RN, DVM. “Skunk spray is very irritating to dogs. If you notice their eyes are red or watering, rinse them with cool water or with some eyewash solution; the type used for people is fine.”
Once you address their face, you can tackle the rest of their smelly body. Here are some safe and effective techniques for removing that skunk smell from your dog’s fur.
4 Safe Methods to Get Rid of the Skunk Smell on Dogs
There are several methods for getting rid of skunk smell on a dog, but keep in mind that most methods, depending upon how badly your dog has been sprayed, will need to be repeated more than once.
Attempt the following methods outside if possible so that you can avoid bringing the smell into your home. Also try to stay in a lighted area where the skunk will be less likely to revisit.
Method 1: Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap
Dr. Konecny recommends mixing these together:
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (never use stronger than 3%)
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap
Wash your dog with the mixture immediately after he’s been sprayed.
Wearing rubber gloves, rub the mixture into your dog’s coat (avoiding his eyes).
Wait about 20 minutes before washing the mixture out of your dog’s fur.
Follow up by bathing your dog with dog shampoo, and rinse well.
Repeat the process 2-3 more times as needed.
Dogs can vomit if they lick the mixture. It can also be flammable, so do not smoke while using this mixture. Dr. Konecny also warns against creating this mixture before a possible incident and storing it, as the mixture could explode if left in a bottle.
The hydrogen peroxide can also cause some bleaching on black dogs, so the longer it stays on, the more bleaching you may see.
Method 2: Tomato juice
- Bathe your dog with dog shampoo.
- Dry him off, then cover him in tomato juice, saturating the coat completely.
- Let the juice soak for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing it out.
- Wash your dog again with dog shampoo.
You may have to repeat these steps several times, and if your dog is white, they may temporarily turn orange after the bath, according to Dr. Konecny.
Method 3: A feminine hygiene product
A perhaps unlikely solution, Dr. Konecny says, is a mixture of Massengill douche and water.
“For small to medium pets, use 2 ounces of Massengill with 1 gallon of water and for large dogs, you’ll want to double the amount of water and Massengill.”
Pour the mixture over your dog until they are thoroughly soaked.
Wait 15 minutes and then rinse it out of the coat.
Bathe your dog afterwards with dog shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
Again, consult your veterinarian about whether this is the right option for your dog and on how often you should repeat.
Method 4: Skunk-specific shampoo, spray, or soaker
Look for a product that has been specifically formulated to get rid of skunk odor.
You can typically get these products from your veterinarian or any place that sells pet supplies. (If you live in an area where skunks are common, it may be a good idea to keep the product on hand to address the issue as soon as it comes up.)
With shampoos, sprays, and soakers, wipe off excess skunk spray first and then read the directions before applying the solution.
Remember to keep these products from getting into your dog’s eyes, as they can damage the cornea and lead to ulceration. Ask your veterinarian how often you should repeat bathing.
How to Help Your Dog Avoid Getting Skunked Again
While there may not be a method that is foolproof, here are some ways to help your dog avoid getting sprayed by a skunk again.
Skunks are nocturnal (and typically first come out at dusk), so consider leaving a light on in the yard or accompanying your dog outside when you let them out in the evening.
You can also set up solar lights so that your yard stays lit throughout the entire night—making it a less desirable place for skunks to frequent.
Automated sprinklers set to turn on throughout the night may also be a good way to deter skunks from roaming your yard off hours.
Remember to bring any dog food or treats indoors and cover trashcans in your yard so that skunks aren’t lured in by the scent of a possible meal.
If you believe you have a serious skunk problem, investigate pet-safe pest control sprays and consult a professional about having your yard treated.
By: Caitlin Ultimo
Featured Image: iStock.com/adriano_cz