Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Dog Sprayed by Skunk? Here’s What to Do (Vet Approved Steps)

Dog Sprayed by Skunk? Here’s What to Do (Vet Approved Steps)

skunk in grass

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

You already know that one of the worst possible things to happen as a dog owner is letting your dog inside and getting smacked in the face by the strong scent of skunk spray. Your first instinct is to probably get your dog in the bathtub and start using as many suds as possible. Don’t jump the gun if you can help it. The skunk oil that is on your dog’s skin at this point isn’t going to go away unless they are cleaned properly.

divider-dog paw

What Is Skunk Spray?

Skunks have a special pair of sacs that are located inside their anus. Each of these sacs is connected to a small duct closer to the outside of their bodies. The oil is released just inside the anus. The purpose of these sacs is to store a foul-smelling secretion that is produced by glands inside the sacs.

Skunk spray is made from a chemical composition that isn’t as easy to get rid of like other messes. The secretion is a yellow oil that clings to everything that it touches. It is even easier to spread when it gets mixed with water. While this is an excellent way for skunks to escape predators, cleaning isn’t ideal once it sticks to the skin.

skunk on white background
Image by: Bryan Padron, Unsplash

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Dogs

Most dog owners aren’t aware that rinsing your skunked dog with soap and water isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you have to follow specific steps and use certain ingredients to fully neutralize the odor.

Steps to Neutralize Skunk Odor in Your Dog
  • Check the eyes
  • Remove the oil
  • Shampoo the dog
  • Towel dry
  • Wash your clothing

1. Check the Eyes

vet checking dog's eyes
Image by: Shine Nucha, Shutterstock

The first thing you should do when you notice that your dog was sprayed by a skunk is to check their eyes. If they are irritated or red, do your best to flush them with cool water. If they don’t go away, you may have to contact your vet to receive a veterinary eyewash product.

2. Remove the Oil ASAP

We recommend not to wash your smelly dog inside the house where the oils could spread. Instead, take them outside or into a garage or barn to wash them. The most common remedy to remove skunk odor is a bath in tomato juice. Even though this sometimes works, it isn’t the most effective.

The best recipe to get rid of the skunk smell on your dog is by combining :
  • 4 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap

Wear rubber gloves before applying the solution deep into your dog’s coat.

Note: Be very careful to avoid contact with eyes. Make sure to scrub and rinse it thoroughly after about 20 minutes.

Please be very careful as this combination is flammable, so do not smoke near your dog and do not perform the procedure near a fire source such as a kitchen or chimney. Because this combination is flammable it should be mixed just before application and should not be stored, or there is a risk of explosion. You also need to be sure and careful that your dog does not lick it off their fur, as these products will cause vomiting. Do not leave the solution on the fur for too long because the peroxide could discolor your dog’s fur. You may have to repeat this process more than one time to eliminate the smell completely.

3. Shampoo the Dog

Image by: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Once you’ve used one of the odor-eliminating solutions, you can use shampoo and lots of water to remove excess residue. Remember to be careful with the eyes! The shampoo will also help with the smell.

4. Towel Dry

Remove as much excess water from their coat as possible. Once you have towel dried your dog, allow them to finish drying in a sunny room or another place where they can keep warm.

5. Wash Your Clothing

woman doing laundry
Image by: Rozhnovskaya Tanya, Shutterstock

It’s entirely possible that some of the skunk smell got onto your own clothing during the bathing process. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your washing machine with your regular detergent to eliminate any traces of the skunk oil.


Why Do Skunks Spray?

Skunks are docile mammals and are rarely ones to take an offensive position. Still, that doesn’t mean they won’t protect themselves from your dog that refuses to leave them alone. Skunks will spray as a form of defense that warns off larger animals. The markings on their tails are usually the first warning sign, but it might not be something that your inexperienced dog is going to pick up on at first. Skunks typically hiss, arch their tails, and stamp their feet before they turn to spraying.

skunk ourdoors
Image by: sipa, Pixabay

Where Do Skunk Encounters Happen?

It doesn’t matter if you live in a rural area or somewhere with tons of residents. Skunks are found in most communities throughout the United States. They are generally less active during the winter, in which they spend most of their time in the warm dens. During the warmer months, they come out most around dusk and dawn while foraging for food.

Skunks make their dens in the ground but have also been found in tree stumps, caves, rock piles, or woodpiles. They could also make your garden shed or deck into their new home. Skunks are going to be more common in areas where they are close to a reliable food source. If you want to deter the skunks, your best bet is to eliminate their food source and force them to move on.



Even if you haven’t had to wash skunk spray from your dog’s coat before, it helps to know how exactly to handle the situation. Skunk oil is a nasty secretion to deal with, and dog owners often make the grave mistake of rinsing their dogs in water in their master bathtub. Avoid these types of accidents to begin with by keeping your property free from skunks and having the ingredients needed to get rid of the smell on hand at all times.

Featured Image Credit: Geoffrey Kuchera, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets