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[UPDATED September 2021]
As a dog owner, this fear is always in the back of my mind, my dog being sprayed by a skunk! Knock on wood, this has never happened to me (yet), and I hope it never will!
Skunks are quite active this time of year, and I am hearing about a lot of dog owners pleading for help on Facebook groups wondering how to remove skunk smell on a dog.
If a skunk has ever sprayed your dog, you know just how horrible of an experience that is, and even if your dog has never had a skunk encounter, you are a little worried that it could happen. After all, dogs are very curious creatures and might just find themselves taking a direct hit of skunk spray!
With so many home remedies floating around on the internet, it is hard to know what really works! Well, the number one best remedy for removing skunk spray is actually a mix of ingredients that you might already have at home.
Find out below what the best remedy is, as well as the number one thing you should NOT do when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk.
A Few Facts About Skunks
- Skunks are most active at dawn and dusk, and the chances of your dog getting “skunked” are greater during the warmer months.
- Skunks mate and give birth in the Spring, and in the Fall the young are old enough to leave the nest. Fall time is when they actively look for food and shelter for the winter.
- A skunk’s spray is powerful enough to scare off a bear.
- They can spray as far as 10-15 feet.
- A skunk’s spray causes irritation and temporary blindness.
- A human can detect the smell up to 5.6km (3.5 miles) downwind.
- Skunks carry enough chemical for 5-6 sprays, and it takes 10 days to produce more.
- A skunk will use its spray as a last resort. They will first send out warning signals to their predator. They will stomp their feet, raise and shake their tail, and turn their head and rear end toward their predator.
Is Skunk Spray Harmful To Dogs?
It is very common for dogs to get sprayed directly in the face because dogs usually go up to other animals out of curiosity and try to sniff them.
Skunk spray can cause extreme irritation especially if it gets in your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. Temporary blindness can occur, and if your dog has swallowed it, it can cause vomiting.
If your dog took a direct hit in the face, you may notice the following:
- Red and watery eyes.
- Rubbing the face and eyes.
- Eye squinting.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Disoriented, due to temporary blindness.
Having a skunk encounter can leave your dog feeling stressed and traumatized as well.
Why Does Skunk Spray Smell So Bad?
Skunk spray is produced by the skunk’s anal glands and is used as a defence mechanism to ward off predators. It is a yellow oily substance made up of sulphur-based compounds called thiols and thioacetates.
Thiols give the skunk spray that rotten egg smell, and its lasting power to stick to anything it comes in contact with.
Thioacetates are less smelly than thiols, but when mixed with water they turn into thiols, which is why skunk spray becomes more pungent when your dog is wet.
How To Remove Skunk Smell On A Dog
The best commercial product to use is Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover. It contains bio-enzymes that break down the oils in skunk spray, and it removes all traces of skunk odour. Just follow the instructions on the bottle.
You can also use this product to remove skunk odour from your clothes, carpets, and any surface where skunk odour is present.
But what do you do if your dog got skunked in the middle of the night, and you don’t have access to a commercial product?
Use a home remedy! Most of us already have these items on hand and this mixture is very effective, it is the # 1 recommended remedy on the humanesociety.org website.
Most Effective Skunk Odour Remover
You will need:
- 1 quart of Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
- 1-2 teaspoons of Dawn Original Liquid Dish Soap
- 1/4 cup Baking Soda
How It Works
The peroxide and baking soda neutralize the odour, while the dish soap removes the oil that holds the smell.
Steps To Follow When Deskunking Your Dog
STEP 1: Do NOT Wet Your Dog!!
The first instinct you will likely have is to get your dog to the nearest creek, lake, or water source. Resist the urge, because getting your dog wet will only make the skunk smell more pungent. Water and oil do not mix, it is important to de-grease your dog using the homemade mixture.
STEP 2: Remain Calm & Don’t Panic
Your dog is likely shaken up by the whole incident and needs you to not freak out and make a bad situation worse. Try your best to remain calm, your calm behaviour will help your dog calm down.
STEP 3: Assess The Situation
It is more than likely that your dog got sprayed in the face, but maybe not. Determine what part of your dog’s body got sprayed. If it was the face, you will need to rinse your dog’s eyes, and mouth with clean cool water.
STEP 4: Act Fast
The faster you can get the skunk spray off your dog the better! Skunk spray is even more difficult to remove if it is left to sit on your dog for a while.
STEP 5: Keep Your Dog Outside Or Contained
If possible, keep your dog outside in a fenced yard or in your garage. Skunk odour is an oil that will stick to anything it comes in contact with, and you do not want that smell in your home or car.
STEP 6: Prepare Your Mixture
In an open container mix together 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide 3%, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1-2 teaspoons of Dawn dish soap.
Using rubber gloves, apply the bubbling mixture to your dog’s affected area and massage all the way down to the skin. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.
Important: Avoid getting the mixture in your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth, and do not let it sit any longer than 5-10 minutes. Peroxide is bleach and may lighten your dog’s fur as well as your clothing.
Caution: Do not prepare this mixture ahead of time, or store it in a bottle as it could explode.
STEP 7: Shampoo Your Dog
After getting all the mixture rinsed off of your dog, it is time to shampoo your dog with a dog shampoo. See my guide for the best shampoos that are gentle and all-natural.
STEP 8: Beware Of Rabies
Now that your dog is clean and smelling good, you can examine your dog for any bite marks or scratches that may have occurred during the skunk encounter.
Skunks carry rabies and other diseases that can be transmitted to your dog through biting. If you notice any wounds or scratches, take your dog to a vet to be examined.
Tomato Juice And Ketchup Do Not Work!
We’ve all heard about the tomato juice baths, or rubbing ketchup all over your dog, but these common remedies simply don’t work, not to mention they’re gross, to begin with!
Bathing your dog in tomato juice or using ketchup will not remove the skunk odour from your dog, it may mask the smell but it will not eliminate it.
Neither of these products reacts chemically with skunk spray to kill the odour, they simply provide a strong enough smell where you will instead smell tomatoes.
Once the tomato smell wears off, the skunk odour becomes noticeable again.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Being Skunked
- Most skunk encounters occur during dusk and dawn, so it is best to avoid walking your dog during this time, especially in wooded areas. Stick to well-lit areas and keep your dog on a leash.
- Keep your yard clean and free of any skunk attractants, such as garbage, and yard waste. If you feed your dog outside, remove any uneaten food.
- Be alert, if you smell a skunk it is best to leave the area.
- If you see a skunk, leash your dog and stay back at least 15 feet. Back away slowly and quietly.
If skunks have made your yard their home, check out these helpful tips on the humanesociety.org website on what to do.
I can guarantee that being sprayed by a skunk is on nobody’s bucket list!! When it happens to your dog, it just takes a horrible experience to another level!!
I hope to never have a skunk encounter, but shall it happen, I will know what to do. The important thing is to remain calm and not get your dog wet before applying the homemade mixture.
Skunks are easy-going animals that go about their business and will leave you and your dog alone unless they feel threatened. If you live in an area where skunks are present, keep your dog on a leash and always have the products for removing skunk smell on hand.
Has your dog ever been sprayed by a skunk? How did you handle it?
Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you.
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