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Help For A Dog Sprayed By A Skunk!

If your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, you need help, and you need it fast! That skunk-y smell is 1000 times stronger than you than you thought it was going to be because skunk spray is oily, sticks to everything, and lingers for a L-O-N-G time (up to three weeks according to research!).

There are a few different ways to remove skunk odor from your dog....

Skunk in grass, eating an insect

Signs Your Dog Has Been 'Skunked'

This may sound unnecessary as if you've ever smelled a skunk's odor then you'll know that it's pretty memorable!

However, there are other signs that you may also notice (and if the spray was minimal they may be more noticeable than the smell). 

Common symptoms of a dog having been sprayed by a skunk include:

  • Eye irritation - may be swelling/redness/tearing
  • Temporary blindness or vision problems
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Rubbing/pawing at face or rolling on the ground

Any or all of the above (plus the distinctive skunk smell) usually appear either immediately, or within an hour or so. However there are a few other, more serious, effects of a dog being sprayed by a skunk.

They are rare, and may not show up for hours or even days, but if your dog has been skunked be on the look out for any of these signs of trouble:

  • Pale gums/lips/tongue
  • Dark gums
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Dark or blood-tinged urine

The above symptoms could mean that the skunk's spray has affected your dogs red blood cells, causing a type of anemia which can be extremely dangerous if left untreated.

So, if you notice anything like this, get Fido to your vet right away.

FYI - if YOU get sprayed by a skunk, are in close proximity to your dog when he does, or are even just close to him after the fact, you can also experience some of the above symptoms. Nausea, eye irritation and respiratory issues are the most likely to occur.

Removing Skunk Smell From Your Dog

There are some great, ready-made concoctions that have been formulated to remove skunk odor from dogs.

Because skunks are nocturnal, most dog/skunk confrontations happen at night, or very early in the morning.

So, unless you're lucky enough to live next-door to a big superstore that stocks lots of pet products, it's best to think ahead and buy one (or more) before Fido meets the resident stink-bomb! 

Skunk odor removal products include shampoos, enzymatic odor removers, soaps and so on.

Here's a look at the most popular and effective choices.....

This is probably the most popular choice, and it's easy to find online or in your local pet store.

The trusted 'Nature's Miracle' brand has once again produced a formula that actually does what it says it will.

Uses natural enzymes to actually break down the organic compounds in the skunk oil which cause that awful smell.

Works best if you don't wet Fido's coat down first.

You can also use this Nature's Miracle skunk odor remover on clothing, flooring, furniture and carpets (and if you've let Fido through the door then you're going to need to do all of that!).

Skunk-Off Pet Shampoo

A gentle but effective shampoo which works great on it's own, and is also the perfect compliment to the Liquid Soaker above.

Can be safely used on Fido's face, and is also safe for use on puppies over 8 weeks old.

Won't irritate your dog's skin or dry out his coat

One bath won't be enough (unless the skunk simply 'kissed' your dog with his spray), but you can get two good baths out of an 8 oz bottle.

Another very popular, and effective, skunk odor remover.

Personally I don't think this is as good at totally removing the smell as the Nature's Miracle liquid, but it does mask any lingering odors pretty well.

Be warned though, this product's smell is strong (although obviously better than that skunky horror!)... and if you get it on your hands or clothing, you're going to be smelling it for a while. 

Buddy Rhodes 100% All-Natural DeSkunkin' Jubilee

If you want to stay away from the chemicals, here's a 100% natural product that actually works.

The two-part application is formulated using all-natural ingredients including herbs and oils.

Removes the smell gently and safely (okay around eyes, ears and nose, plus is non-toxic if ingested).

Also leaves your dog smelling a whole lot sweeter!

Home Remedies For Skunk Odor Removal

If Fido has a run-in with a skunk when the stores are closed (or you live out in the boonies) and you don't have any proprietary de-skunking products at hand, then you might need to improvise.

Pug in cast iron tub

Luckily there are a few home recipes for removing that awful skunk smell from your dog's coat.

Depending on how severely your pooch has been doused in skunk oil, these may not all be as effective as the products listed above, but they will help.

I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of the baking soda/hydrogen peroxide/dish soap combo!

One of my dogs had a run-in with a skunk in our new home.... while everything from the old home (including odor removal products) were still packed up in boxes!

Here's a step-by-step guide to mixing and using this 'potion' :

The Baking Soda/Hydrogen Peroxide Formula

This formula was devised by a chemist (Paul Krebaum of Illinois) and published in the Chemical & Engineering News in the early 1990's.

It uses three common household products:

  • Baking soda (1/4 cup)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (1 Quart)
  • Dishwashing liquid, 'Dawn' if possible (1 teaspoon)

If you have a large or giant-breed dog you can add some warm water to this mixture to make it go further - it won't dilute it's effectiveness by much.


This mixture will sting if it gets into your dogs eyes (and could even cause damage to his sight), his ears, on his nose or into cuts/scrapes on his skin... so apply carefully to his face. 

You can use some vaseline around the rim of his eyes, lips and nose.

A couple of drops of mineral oil, or olive oil, in his eyes can also help protect them - this is especially useful if your dog has long hair on his face.

  1. Use a bucket (NOT a bottle or covered container as this potion will fizz and expand).

  2. Add the baking soda to the hydrogen peroxide, then stir in the dish-washing liquid.

  3. Mix well and thoroughly soak your dogs DRY coat (do not wet it first).

  4. Use a large sponge, or even a brush (but be gentle!) to make sure that the mixture is worked well into the coat down to the skin.

  5. Leave on for 5 - 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

  6. You'll probably need to repeat this whole cycle once or twice more. 

  7. Okay, all done. Now you can dry Fido thoroughly... and breathe a sigh of relief!

The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are likely to leave your dog's coat and skin a bit dry and irritated. So bathing him with an oatmeal or other moisturizing shampoo afterwards is a really good idea too.

The reason that this recipe works so well is because it causes a chemical reaction to take place between the components of the skunk oil, and the ingredients in the solution.

This reaction actually breaks down the oil and neutralizes the odor, rather than just trying to mask it.

That's important because the majority of home recipes for getting rid of the smell of skunk oil rely on overpowering (or masking) it rather than removing it. 

An up-close-and-personal encounter with skunk oil will definitely convince you that even reducing the intensity and masking that awful stench is better than doing nothing at all.

Plus, you're likely to have at least some of these things in your home already, so no midnight trip to the store required.

So here are a few of the other home remedies/potions that can help do just that...

Tomato Juice

You can use a combination of tomato juice and canned, diced tomatoes to help break down the oiliness of skunk spray.

Rub the mixture well into Fido's coat, let it soak for 5 minutes, then rinse clean. Follow with shampoo, rinse and dry.

Listerine Mouthwash

The combination of antiseptic and mint (if you have the Mint Flavor rather than original) will help cut through the skunk oil.

Plus the same ingredients which freshen your breath will help make Fido's coat smell a bit better.

Apply the mouthwash directly to Fido's fur (but stay away from his eyes,ears and nose), allow it to soak for a few minutes, then shampoo, rinse... and repeat as necessary.

Lemon Juice

The acidic properties in lemon juice cut through the oil in the same way as the tomato juice or antiseptic.

Obviously you'd need a LOT of lemons to soak a dog's fur, so this works best if you have bottled lemon juice in your refrigerator.

Just soak Fido in lemon juice (again stay away from his eyes, ears and nose), allow it to soak into his fur for 10 minutes, then wash out with warm water and shampoo. Rinse... and repeat if necessary.

And finally, a couple of human hygiene products that you might have on hand which can be used in a pinch include:

Feminine Hygiene Product - Medicated Douche

The medicated component, plus the fragrance, in a douche can help remove some of the skunk odor from your dog.

Simply mix (or use ready made) according to manufacturers directions and then soak your dog's fur. Allow it to penetrate for 10 - 15 minutes. 

Then rinse, shampoo, rinse and dry.

Tea Tree Shampoo

Tea tree shampoo contains a natural oil that can help counteract the odor in skunk oil. It's also good at cutting through grease, and neutralizing that nasty smell.

Mix shampoo with water and thoroughly soak your dog, then pour on and lather up with more shampoo.

Leave on for 5 minutes, rinse and repeat as necessary. Dry.

Heavy Duty Hand-Cleaner 

Heavy duty hand cleaners are perfect for removing dirt, paint, oil and other stuff from skin, and can also do an excellent job removing skunk oil from your dog's coat too.

Use the recommended amount of soap to warm water and work up a good lather, rubbing it deep into your dog's coat and massaging the skin.

Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap so as not to irritate Fido's skin.

A great choice would be Throttle Muscle TM2797 Monster Scrubber Industrial Hand Cleaner with Moisturizer.

Alternatively you could try Lava Soap Heavy Duty Hand Cleaner.

This soap contains finely ground pumice which is abrasive, and is great for removing dirt, paint, oil and other stuff from skin (and here, your pet's coat).

Using warm water lather the soap up and work well into Fido's coat (you can use a brush to help with this, but don't scrub too hard).

Then rinse thoroughly, and shampoo with gentle shampoo and rinse again.

This soap can leave a gritty residue in the fur which will irritate your dog's skin if it's not removed, so you may need to shampoo and rinse a couple of times to get rid of it all. 

Tips for Effective Skunk-Odor Removal!

Okay, so that just about covers it for products and potions that you can use on a dog who has been sprayed by a skunk.

BUT there's more to effective de-skunking than just knowing what to use.

A close encounter with skunk oil is a minefield of potential problems... and the nature of the oil makes it extremely difficult to remove, not just from Fido, but from clothing, flooring and more, so......

Top skunk odor removal tips

1. Be prepared

Especially important if you live out in the country, or anywhere skunks have been seen. I always have old pants and a long-sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, old towels, and a bucket out in the garage just in case. Obviously it's also important have either a proprietary de-skunking product of the makings for a home-made potion out there too!

2. Act quickly

Skunk oil can soak into your dog's coat quickly, so get to work right away. Tip #1 helps speed up the process.

3. don't soak your dog with water

Although your first thought might be to hose Fido down. Please don't! Water opens up the hair shaft and will let the oil get deeper into his fur. Instead use the old towels, or paper towels to absorb as much of the oil as possible before using whichever cleaning product/method you've chosen.

4. Rinse out Fido's eyes quickly

This is one place where you CAN use water. Skunk oil is highly irritating to the eyes, so rinsing your dog's eyes with lots of cool water to help reduce inflammation and irritation. A small squirt bottle is good for this.

5. Trim fido's fur if necessary

Because removing that oil from your dog's fur is such a challenge, for long or curly coated dogs it can really help to trim the coat before the cleaning process. The less fur on him, the easier it will be to get him de-odorized.

6. 'rinse & repeat'

Whether you actually have to rinse between applications depends on what type of product you're using to remove that awful skunk smell. But the repeat part is vital regardless. You'll likely need to repeat the whole process at least twice, more likely several times, especially on the areas that took a direct hit!

7. monitor for reactions/side-effects

Occasionally, being skunked can cause more problems than just the smell. Sometimes the spray can cause damage to a dog's red blood cells leading to type of anemia that needs treatment. 

Symptoms of this include pale or dark gums, tongue, lips; lethargy or weakness; discolored or dark urine.

In addition, because skunks can carry Rabies, if your dog has been bitten, scratched or injured during the encounter he's at risk of contracting that (if his shots are up to date this is unlikely). If you've been in contact with any injuries you could also be at risk. 

With any kind of injury to the skin there's always a risk of infection too. So once your dog is as clean and odor-free as possible be sure to check thoroughly for any bites, scratches or wounds.

8. how to de-skunk your home

If the worst has happened, and you let Fido indoors before realizing he'd been cavorting with a skunk, you can use many of the same products and solutions to clean the surfaces in your home. 

Other, everyday cleaning products such as Simple Green, a 1:10 bleach: water solution or white vinegar are also good options.

As the smell tends to linger in the air and is difficult to remove from soft surfaces, using an air purifier, odor-absorber or even small bowls of coffee grounds or baking soda around the house can help while things resettle.

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