You step outside to see your dog barreling towards you, then it hits. The familiar and powerful smell of skunk! Unfortunately, your dog didn’t read the cues a skunk gives beforehand. They often raise their tail first as a warning, and will even stomp their feet. But it wasn’t enough to keep your pooch away. Even if it did, a skunk can spray up to 15 feet away! So what do you do now? Follow the steps below to get your dog smelling normal again.
If your dog is tearing up, has red and irritated eyes, and keeps trying to rub its face, it’s likely they have spray in its eyes. Skunk spray can be a serious eye irritant, but try to keep them from rubbing their face. Use an eye rinse or water to flush your dog’s eyes. You can also use artificial tears to protect the eyes before giving them a bath. If their eyes remain irritated for a long time, you may want to reach out to the vet.
Drooling, foaming, bright red lips, nausea, and vomiting are all signs your dog got sprayed in the mouth. Try to do your best to rinse it out with water. Spraying each side of the jaw from the back towards the nose is usually the best way.
How to make a homemade de-skunking solution.
Putting together a homemade de-skunking kit is cheap and can probably be done with what you already have in your home. It’s also one of the most effective methods out there. We recommend having the ingredients set aside and ready to go so you can act quickly when your pooch gets sprayed.
What you’ll need:
- 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- A bucket and something to mix with
Mix these ingredients together for a short time in a bucket to make a sort of paste. Expect some fizzing from the hydrogen peroxide. Work the mixture into your dog’s fur. We recommend using a soft brush or a washcloth to help work it in. After about 5-10 minutes, rinse the mixture out with water. Follow up with another bath using your typical dog shampoo. For bad sprays, you may need to repeat the process.
- Don’t get this into your or your dog’s eyes, ears or mouth! You may want to wear eye protection too.
- Hydrogen peroxide will bleach your dog’s hair, so be careful with darker colored dogs.
- Don’t pre-mix the solution. It can explode in a closed container and doesn’t last.
- Don’t dilute the mixture with water. It won’t work as well.
How to make a homemade de-skunking solution without hydrogen peroxide.
The hydrogen peroxide recipe works because it chemically neutralizes the odor. The vinegar method listed below doesn’t chemically change the skunk oils, but it’s fairly effective.
What you’ll need:
- 1 part apple cider vinegar
- 2 parts water
- Bucket or squeeze bottle
Mix as much of the mixture as you think you might need based on the size of your dog. Using a bottle that allows you to squeeze the mixture onto your dog’s fur may make applying it easier. Keep the solution on for at least 5 minutes, then rinse. Expect to do this several times and that the smell of vinegar will stick around for a day or two. For best results, follow up with a bath using dish soap (like Dawn) to break down and wash away any remaining oils.
Tip: If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. You can soak orange or lemon peels in the vinegar mixture ahead of time to give it a subtle citrus scent.
General tips for de skunking your dog
- Don’t get your dog wet first! If they get wet, it will actually make the smell worse!
- Keep your dog outside if you can, or at least try to wipe off some of the oils before they come inside. You can use paper towels to help soak up the oils. You could also wrap them in towels to keep them from brushing up against anything as they walk through the house! Also, keep your dog away from their bed and toys.
- You may want to wear rubber gloves to keep the smell and oils from transferring to you.
- Chances are you’ll need to throw your dog’s collar and leash away. It you want to try to save them, you’ll want to soak the collar and leash is a solution similar to what you used to clear your dog, just keep in mind the hydrogen peroxide may discolor them, so you should avoid using it.
What are the best skunk shampoos for dogs.
If you decide to go with a store-bought solution, there’s an overwhelming number of options to choose from. From what we’ve seen, the two brands that excel are Skunk-Off Pet Shampoo and Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover. You can also get Skunk-Off’s liquid spray if the smell comes back on a rainy day or for rugs and furniture. Nature Miracle Skunk Odor Remover is safe to use on your pets as well as on clothing. The benefit of buying a commercial solution is that it’s ready to go when you need it. Know that you will use all of an 8-ounce bottle per incident.
Is skunk spray toxic to dogs?
No, but it can be an incredible irritant. Spray in the eyes can cause general irritation or sting and may lead to temporary blindness. If your dog is sprayed in the mouth, it may vomit, but it should pass over the course of a couple of hours. Using water or an eye rinse to rinse the eyes and mouth is the best thing you can do. If symptoms persist, see a veterinarian.
Keep in mind that skunks can often carry the rabies virus. Be sure to check your pup for any bite marks. If you find any, seek medical attention immediately.
Want to learn how to put together a first aid kit for your dog? See this article.
Is skunk spray toxic to humans?
No, but it has the same effect on humans as dogs. It can be a painful eye irritant, similar to pepper spray, and may lead to nausea or vomiting if it gets in your mouth. It can also temporarily make breathing more difficult for people with respiratory challenges like asthma.
How can I get the skunk spray out of my house?
It’s inevitable that some amount of the skunk smell will linger in your house, even if you take all the necessary precautions. You’ll want to be sure to open all the windows and get as much air movement through as possible. Here are a few methods of getting that skunk smell out of your house.
- Boil vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pan.
- Leave out bowls of vinegar in each room for 1-2 days.
- You can use a mixture of baking soda, vinegar and water to scrub down rugs, then steam clean afterwards.
- Hard surfaces can be cleaned with diluted bleach, or vinegar and baking soda if you prefer.
- Air filters can pick up the skunk scent. Replace them, or wash the reusable kind.
- Make sure any clothing that was worn, towels that were used, etc. have been washed thoroughly.
- You may have to repeat these steps more than once to fully get the smell out.
No matter how hard we try to keep our dogs away from skunks, encounters are still likely. With any luck, one of the above remedies will eliminate the odor but know that nothing is 100%. Has your dog been sprayed by a skunk? What have you done? How did these remedies work for you? Let us know below.