- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
We’ve all had our dog pick up some undesirable smells from time to time. It’s just part of the gig. But what is one to do if their dog gets a direct hit of the granddaddy of all malodorous substances? That’s right, we’re talking about skunk spray. While skunks are completely harmless at a distance, some friendly dogs learn to leave them alone the hard way. Has your dog had a close encounter of the skunk kind? Don’t fret, because our guide to help de-skunk your dog is here.
We’ve researched the best ways to get skunk odor out of dog fur. Here are some tried and true home remedies that should, in next to no time at all, have your dog smelling like…well, a dog.
Step One: Preparation and Containment
Before we get into the treatments, let’s make sure you’re set up for success.
Seriously, it’s gonna be okay. Your dog is probably pretty disoriented and needs you to set a chilled-out example. Take a few deep breaths (through your mouth) and just keep reminding yourself that this happens all the time, and you can handle getting rid of the skunk smell on your dog. You’ve got this.
Contain the situation
The less stuff the dog comes into contact with, the fewer things you’ll have to de-skunk later. Get the dog into a crate or tie them up out back while you round up ingredients for their treatment.
You will need:
- Rubber gloves (You don’t want to end up smelling like skunk.)
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Dish soap or another liquid soap
- Old towels (Just in case one round of de-skunking isn’t enough.)
If you have time, or an accomplice that can run to the nearest store, a skunk odor remover such as this one from Nature’s Miracle is another easy choice. (You can also keep this in your home if you live in an area known for roaming skunks. Better safe than sorry!)
Time is of the essence
Skunk smell has a way of settling into whatever surface it lands on, which means that the sooner you can start treatment, the better your odds of success. This applies not just to the dog but also to any clothes you’re wearing while administering treatment. Be prepared to hop in the shower and run a load of laundry after you’re done. Regular laundry detergent should work fine, though some sources say that adding white vinegar into the wash can help boost any skunk smell destroying properties.
Step Two: Scrub
With the exception of skunk-specific dog shampoos, all the remedies we came across in our research are made from common pantry items. There’s a good chance you’ll have everything you need for these mixtures without having to run to the store, but if you’re short an ingredient or two Amazon Prime Now or another grocery delivery service can help you out.
Here are the recipes, starting with the most widely recommended mixture (favored by The Humane Society of the U.S.):
Hydrogen peroxide is a favored ingredient because the oxygen it releases bonds with the thiols (the sulphur substance) in the skunk spray, neutralizing the stink. Soak the dog thoroughly with water before applying the mixture to affected areas, being careful to avoid the dog’s eyes. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Some people substitute white vinegar for the hydrogen peroxide because vinegar dissolves the oil in the spray, and because hydrogen peroxide can bleach out fur.
Another widely used treatment is baking soda paste, which is safe to use on your dog’s face. Just mix 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water and apply gently with an old rag. Let it sit 3-4 minutes before shampooing out.
De-Skunking Dog Myth: Busted!
You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned tomato juice to de-skunk your dog. Well, according to no less than the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” a tomato juice bath is just not that effective for removing skunk smell. What it actually does is mask the odor, tricking your fatigued sense of smell into thinking it’s gone.
Go ahead and try it if that’s all you have available, but chances are you’ll end up having to use something else to finish the de-skunking job. Save the tomato juice for a well-earned Bloody Mary.
Step 3: Skunk Smell Aftercare
Now your dog is all scrubbed and hopefully smelling clean, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on them for a while. It’s very rare, but some dogs have a strong reaction to skunk spray that can result in anemia. Symptoms include lethargy, black feces and brown urine. Have them checked out by their vet if you see any of these signs.
Another thing to watch out for is a sensitive skin reaction to the spray or treatment.
If home remedies don’t work, you can always head over to the groomer and let them work their magic. Sometimes it takes a village to de-skunk a dog. Best of luck!