What to do when your dog gets skunked

Oh my, your dog got sprayed by a skunk. How do you get the skunk smell out? What neutralizes skunk smell? Take a look to find out.

It’s a gorgeous day out. You’re at the park with your dog who’s running around, prancing about when bam. Your dog gets curious and comes back unsettled and smelly. Your dog has been skunked. Now what? Your first instinct may be to get them home and into the bath as quickly as possible, but don’t do that! Instead, be prepared with some knowledge and follow our guide. 

  1. Check your dog’s eyes

Dogs often get sprayed in the face thanks to their curiosity, so this step is crucial. If your dog got skunked in the eyes, their eyes will be red and irritated. Rinse the eyes with cool water as soon as possible and then use a veterinary eyewash product that is safe for dogs. If your dog appears in serious distress, it’s best to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible as the skunk oil can cause damage to the cornea. 

  1. Remove the skunk oil from your dog’s coat immediately

Skunk spray is an oily substance made of an organic compound called thiol with sulfur as its main component. You know, that stuff that smells like rotten eggs. Not pleasant. 

You may have heard that tomato juice will remove the skunk smell. Nope. It won’t do anything but partially cover up the smell, just like any other strong odor. But it will do nothing to get rid of the smell.

You may be tempted to get your dog into the tub and turn the water on right away. Step away slowly. That’s right. Nice and slow. Now, go to a groomer that specializes in deskunking. We have special products that strip the enzymes out of the fur very effectively. We are also very thorough to make sure there is no lingering skunk smell left on your dog.

If you can’t get to the groomer, you can also get a specially formulated shampoo but it may not work as well and you’ll need a few extra precautions. Make sure you are wearing old clothes and gloves. Ideally, do not take your dog inside as the smell will then permeate your home. If you do not have a commercial shampoo and are not able to get to the groomer, then you can make a homemade mixture.

  1. At-home skunk shampoo recipe
  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, found at most stores
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap 

You’ll want to put this mixture on your dog’s dry coat immediately. DO NOT STORE THIS as it will explode in a closed container. Rub it in completely, down to the skin, being careful to avoid any cuts and don’t get the solution into your dog’s eyes. Let it sit for approximately 5 minutes. You don’t want to keep it on for too long as it may lighten your dog’s fur. Don’t let your dog lick the mixture while it’s on his or her skin (this may or may not be a difficult feat). This mixture, credited to chemist Paul Krebaum, neutralizes the odor instead of just masking it. If your dog still smells like a skunk, you didn’t get all of the oil and may need to repeat this process. Remember to use fresh batches of this solution as its effectiveness rapidly decreases after making it. 

  1. Shampoo your dog

This step is to get rid of the DIY skunk solution as well as any residual oils that might be left on your dog’s fur. You can use a regular dog shampoo but may want to use a skunk dog shampoo for extra removal of the smell. 

  1. Towel dry your dog

You want to let your dog dry completely, in a sunny room ideally as sun can help further remove the smell if there’s any left. 

  1. Get the skunk smell out of your clothes

If your clothes got the odor on them in the process, wash them with regular laundry detergent and half a cup of baking soda. 

  1. Get the skunk smell out of your house

Remember how we said to try to avoid taking your dog inside? That’s because the smell will get into everything. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you got that noxious skunk smell in your home, you’ll need to take a few extra steps. 

Place bowls of vinegar around the house for two or three days as it will help neutralize the odor. Keep them out of reach of your dog as well as children. Boil a pot of vinegar on the stove for an hour allowing the vinegar to evaporate into the air. Your house will temporarily smell like vinegar but that’s not bad compared to a more permanent skunk smell, now is it? 

If the smell got onto any hard surfaces, you can use a mixture that is one part bleach to nine parts water. If the smell has permeated any nonwashable surfaces such as couches and carpets, you’ll need a thorough steam cleaning. 

  1. How to get rid of skunk smell from your car

If getting in your car is unavoidable, the skunk smell will likely get into the upholstery. You’ll need to use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water in a one to five ratio along with some baby shampoo and rub it into the affected upholstery. Then roll all the windows down and let your car air out in a sunny spot. You can also put a box of baking soda in your car to absorb any remaining odor. 

Conclusion

If your curious dog gets sprayed by a skunk, call your local groomer as soon as possible and we’ll get you in stat because it’s an urgent matter! If you can’t get to the groomers, get rid of the skunk odor on your dog as soon as possible to avoid it lingering (Skunk smell can last from two to three weeks, yikes!).

Try to protect your dog from getting sprayed in the first place by keeping them in at night as skunks are primarily nocturnal creatures. Keep your yard skunk-free by eliminating any food sources, keep all potential shelter areas sealed such as the space under your deck, and fence your yard deep enough and tall enough (3 ft tall and buried at least one foot under the ground). When in a public space such as a park, don’t let your dog wander off alone potentially following a skunk and getting into trouble. 

Hopefully, you’re reading this post before your dog is skunked as a preventative measure. But if not, we’re here for you! Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Like now. 

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