What to Do When Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk

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So, your dog just had an encounter with a skunk and got sprayed for his troubles. Although your first instinct may be to let him in the house to wash him off, don't. Keep him outside. The skunk oil on his coat lingers in the air until he's clean, and we all know how noxious that smell is.

What is skunk spray? The spray is produced by the anal glands of the skunk to defend against predators and contains sulfurous chemicals called thiols. Since skunks can spray this liquid as far as 15 feet, it's common for dogs to get a blast directly in the face.

Follow These Steps if Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk
 

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Check your dog's eyes: If they're red or irritated, flush them immediately with cool water. There are also eyewash products on the market that are safe for dogs, and if you live in an area where skunks are common, it may be a good idea to keep some on hand.

Remove the oil from his coat as quickly as possible: So, now it's bath time, either outdoors or in a separate space like a garage or barn. The most common household remedy to get rid of skunk odor used to be a tomato juice bath, although it had limited success. Today, there are effective products on the market, as well as a simple DIY remedy you can make with products commonly at hand:

Best Way to Get Rid of Skunk Smell:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution (found at any pharmacy or supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap

Wearing rubber gloves, work the solution into your dog's coat, washing him thoroughly. Don't leave the solution on his fur for too long since peroxide can bleach his fur. Then rinse completely. You might have to repeat the process more than once.

If you don't have these ingredients on hand, the next best option is one of the old-time remedies, like vinegar diluted with water. While not as effective, it may still help clean your dog and get rid of the smell.

Shampoo Your Dog: Use a regular dog shampoo to remove any residual solution and to leave your dog smelling clean.

Towel dry your dog: Let him finish drying in a warm sunny room.

Wash Your Own Clothes: If any of the skunk smell gets on you during the bathing process, wash your clothes in regular laundry detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda.

A Few Caveats
 

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  • Use the mixture described above immediately after mixing and do not store it. It can explode if kept in a closed container.
  • Be careful not to get the solution in your dog's eyes.
  • Don't leave the mixture on your dog's coat for too long. According to the Humane Society, the peroxide may bleach your dog's fur.
  • Don't use a hydrogen peroxide solution stronger than 3%, it can irritate your dog's skin
  • It may be impossible to get rid of the odor completely, especially if your dog is sprayed in the face.

Short of somehow training your dog to stay at least 15 feet away from skunks, your best bet is to have these ingredients on hand. Or you can buy one of several commercial products available, like Skunk-Off Pet Shampoo® or Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover® and hope you never have to use it.

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