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So, your dog got sprayed by a skunk: what now? Your first instinct may be wash your dog in the house to get the skunk smell off your dog, but don’t. Keep your dog outside while you remove skunk spray from their coat, so long as you can keep your dog safely contained and away from the skunk. The skunk oil on your dog’s coat lingers in the air until they’re clean, and keeping that smell outdoors helps keep skunk spray smell from permeating your house!
What is skunk spray? Skunks produce the spray in their anal glands as a defense mechanism against predators, and it 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 of skunk spray directly in the face.
Steps To Take When Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk
1. Check Your Dog’s Eyes
If your dog’s eyes are red or irritated, flush them immediately with cool water. You can also flush their eyes with a dog-safe veterinary eyewash product, and if you live in an area where skunks are common, it may be a good idea to keep this product on hand.
2. Remove Skunk Oil From Your Dog’s Coat
Bathe your dog outdoors or in a space outside your home (like a garage or barn) if possible, which helps avoid getting skunk smell inside your house. The most common household remedy to get rid of skunk odor used to be a tomato juice bath, although it had limited success. For effectiveness, we recommend a top-rated skunk shampoo made for dogs. Today, there are many effective de-skunking products on the market, as well as a simple DIY formula you can make with products commonly at hand.
3. DIY Skunk Shampoo Recipe
- 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 them thoroughly. Don’t leave the solution on their fur for too long, since peroxide can bleach the 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 white vinegar diluted with water. While not as effective, it may still help clean some of the skunk oils off of your dog and reduce the smell.
4. Shampoo Your Dog
5. Towel-Dry Your Dog
After washing your dog, dry them off with a absorbent dog towel. Let your pet finish drying in a warm room.
6. Wash Your Clothes
If any of the skunk smell gets on you during the bathing process, wash your clothes in regular laundry detergent boosted by 1/2 cup of baking soda, or find a skunk odor remover that works in washing machines.
A Few Caveats
- Use the DIY mixture described above immediately after mixing. Do not store it. It can explode if kept in a closed container.
- Be careful not to get the any products, solutions or shampoos in your dog’s eyes.
- Don’t leave the mixture on your dog’s coat for too long. Peroxide may bleach your dog’s fur.
- Don’t use a hydrogen peroxide solution stronger than 3%, as 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 for dealing with skunk spray is to have these products, shampoos, and dog skunk odor remover spray on hand.