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How to De-Skunk a Dog!

Living in the country, skunks are a fact of life for us. We rarely see them, although I know they live on the hill and in the gullies on the back part of our property. I’ve never had to de-skunk our dogs but, if your dog does get sprayed by a skunk, we have some good advice in this guest post from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

how to de-skunk your dog after he has been sprayed by a skunk

The awful smell caused by a skunk spray is no joke. Dog owners know to keep their dog away from skunks at all costs—but sometimes Fido has other plans. With warmer weather approaching, skunks are becoming more active at dawn and dusk.

Are you prepared for a potential skunk spray?

Skunks are omnivores, meaning they eat both vegetation and meat, and they are a part of the weasel family. They are more active in the warmer months, specifically in early morning and dusk and are generally non-aggressive animals.

Although skunks typically prefer flight over fight, they are capable of spraying a substance degraded from their urine when they feel threatened.

This foul-smelling spray can reach up to 16 feet.

How to De-Skunk Your Dog

If you find your dog sprayed by a skunk, it is important to act fast.

The longer the spray sits on your dog’s coat, the worse the odor becomes and the harder it is to wash out.

First, situate your smelly pooch outside to prevent any of the substance from soaking your carpet or furniture.

Next, change into old clothes you won’t mind throwing away after bathing your dog. Be sure to grab some disposable gloves, too!

Although there are specific skunk spray shampoos available on the market, we rarely have such shampoos available on-hand at home when we need them.

In this case, Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, offered another solution.

“Although there are no specific therapies that work all of the time, the Humane Society of the United States recommends using a one quart mixture of three percent hydrogen peroxide, one-fourth cup baking soda, and one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap to help get the smell off the dog,” he said.

Dog owners should be careful not to add any more than the recommended amount of hydrogen peroxide, as this could burn the dog’s skin.

It is also recommended to use fresh baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to ensure effectiveness. In addition, the solution must be mixed in an open container to avoid an explosion caused by a chemical reaction.

How to De-Skunk a Dog!

What If Your Dog Has Been Bitten by a Skunk

Before you begin bathing your dog, be sure to check if the skunk took a harmful bite into your pooch.

In this case, you should take your dog to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

“Dog owners need to ensure that the skunk did not bite the pet,” Barr said. “Skunks are notorious carriers of rabies, and any possible interaction with a skunk resulting in broken skin warrants quarantine.”

Was Your Dog Sprayed in the Face?

In addition, dog owners should check to see if the dog was sprayed in the face before bathing.

“Getting sprayed in the face usually does not cause many problems, but it can if enough skunk spray gets sprayed onto the pet,” Barr said. “It can cause significant irritation to the eyes, and in rare cases, severe anemia, and of course an offensive odor.”

If your dog was sprayed in the face, it is important to avoid getting the bathing mixture in their eyes, mouth, and nose.

It may be necessary to wash, rinse, and repeat several times until the smell is gone.

How to Avoid Skunk Sprays

Your pooch may regret taunting the furry black and white creature they found, but how can you be sure to avoid this situation again?

The easiest way to avoid a skunk spray is to locate areas in your yard skunks are likely to hide and fix these areas so they are no longer attractive to skunks.

According to the United States Humane Society, these areas include:

  • wood and rock piles
  • elevated sheds
  • openings under concrete slabs and porches,
  • access to crawl spaces under houses

Skunks are also attracted to garbage and pet food left out at night.

Skunks may be known for their terrible smelling spray, but these animals are easy-going in nature. Since skunks only spray when they feel threatened, it is important to keep your dog away from areas where skunks may be hiding. In addition, home-owners can decrease the likelihood of a skunk in their yard by referring to these Humane Society tips.

Diane Eckstein

Monday 11th of July 2022

My chocolate lab was skunked 2 weeks ago. A friend suggested putting cooking oil on him and then bathe him with dawn dish soap. I could not believe it worked! I had a dog that was skunked and tried everything which did not work.


Sunday 8th of November 2020

Never had my dog sprayed, but will keep this in mind for the future!


Tuesday 19th of May 2020

This happened several years ago, the skunk crawled under the fence. It was around 10pm going out for last pee for the night and I was sleepy and did not take notice that my dog was all of sudden on high alert, so she darted into the fence yard, and I hoped it was a cat, but I knew, I know this is a skunk. She was sprayed in the face. Stunk to high heavens. We put extra sheets over the bed, sofa, chairs, dog beds, etc . I washed her with shampoo several times, did not work. Then washed with dish soap, did not work, then soaked and washed with tomato juice, did not work. Used a brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide, that did not work. Next morning after a very smelly night, could not sleep with stench. Search online, Dry Hydrogen Peroxide powder like OxyClean was said to be the only thing anyone said that truly works at getting rid of the stench. Amazingly enough we were out of it. So special trip to store to buy oxyclean. Soaked her wet, made a solution of hydrogen peroxide powder and cool water and soaked her hair for 10 minutes, then rinsed off and that got rid of the skunk smell completely. It was the only think that worked. From now on, make sure to always have hydrogen peroxide powder or oxyclean on hand, incase of a skunk.

Linda Szymoniak

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Gee, it had to be around 1990 - long before we had the internet or the all-night Wal-mart by us. We live in a subdivision on what used to be a corn field. While I have smelled skunks, we never had one get into our fenced yard. Until one night when my two dogs - Misty (Beagle/Shepherd) and Muffie (Beagle/Lab) went out to potty and a few minutes later came running out from behind our garage. I suspect if either of them had disturbed the skunk it was Muffie, but it was Misty who got sprayed. Yes, the dog with the longer, thicker fur. And, it was about 10pm and I had NO idea what to do. Except that I remembered reading an article a while before about using tomato juice to get rid of the smell of skunk. I made a run to the grocery store (which was still open) and grabbed five large cans of tomato juice. Once home I got Misty into the bathtub and started pouring the juice over her. I ended up using just four of the cans and just spent time massaging the juice into her fur. Luckily she hadn't been sprayed in the face. After a good rinsing and a couple of washings with dog shampoo, the smell was virtually gone. I am glad now that we have so many other options, including a product specifically made for that available at our local almost 24-hour Wal-Mart.

I always joke when I see the photo I took of Misty all covered in tomato juice and say she was trying to look like Clifford the big red dog. She was SO red! Again, while it wasn't 100% effective, it did get rid of enough of the smell that I wasn't getting queasy from the smell. Yes, the smell of skunk is one of 2-3 smells that nauseates me. I am bookmarking and sharing this post for future reference. Thanks for posting it!

Linda Szymoniak

Saturday 30th of July 2016

Many years ago, before we had 24/7 access to the internet and all-night Walmart and other stores by us, my Misty got skunked in our back yard. I had no first-hand experience with de-skunking a dog, but had remembered reading somewhere that tomato juice helped. We DID have a grocery store that was open until midnight, so I made a quick run and came home with several cans of tomato juice. It actually helped a lot more than I expected, and after rinsing it off her, I followed with a regular dog bath. Since skunk is one of the smells that really makes me sick to my stomach, it was rough, but Misty was fine and now I have a photo of her looking like she's trying to look like Clifford the Big Red Dog.

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