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Home > Dogs > How to Get Skunk Smell off Your Dog: Guide, Safety Tips & FAQs

How to Get Skunk Smell off Your Dog: Guide, Safety Tips & FAQs

dog taking a bath

There’s nothing more intense and immediately recognizable than the notorious smell of skunk spray. The skunk’s rancid oil is expelled at high velocity as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, if they feel threatened, it can be directly into your poor dog’s face (or even all over them), leaving them smelling rotten.

Panic can quickly ensue, but there are ways that the skunk smell can effectively be removed from your dog’s face, leaving them fresh and smelling clean again. As long as a little preparation is undertaken, you can rid your dog of skunk aroma in just a few easy steps; read on to find out how to fix this smelly problem quickly.


What You Need to Prepare

Some owners like to keep a “skunk kit” ready if they live in wooded areas, such as upstate New York, but be aware that if you follow the steps below using hydrogen peroxide, you should not pre-mix the solution, as this can cause the containers to explode. Keeping them in separate containers but in the same place is the best way to maintain a skunk kit should you wish to do so.

In any case, the way that popular veterinary and pet organizations (such as PetMD and the AKC (American Kennel Club) recommend removing skunk smell is by using a combination of:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (no more than 3%)
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap

These can all be kept in their respective packages until needed or kept in a cupboard close to a bucket or bin for mixing.

australian sheperd dog taking a bath in a blue container
Image Credit: EVGENY K777, Shutterstock

The Step-By-Step Guide to Removing Skunk Smell From Your Dog

The following steps detail how to make up an effective skunk spray wash, which should be used a few times to ensure maximum effectiveness.

1. Secure Your Dog Outside

The first thing to do as soon as your dog gets sprayed is to secure them safely and comfortably outside. You’ll want to keep your smelly pup outside because the stink of skunk spray will not only stick to any surface it touches (meaning they also need to be cleaned), but it will permeate the air and make your whole house smell.

2. Check Your Dogs Eyes

Before you go any further, check your dog’s eyes. If they’re red, watering, or your dog is pawing at them, they may have been sprayed in the face. Rinse their face with water or saline (human saline is fine) before you go further to keep them comfortable.

bath foam to a Golden Retriever dog
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

3. Measure Out Your Ingredients

For this skunk spray wash, you will need the following:
  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap

This recipe can be adjusted for larger dogs (e.g., doubled), but don’t change the ratio. The ingredients can then be combined in a washing bowl, bucket, bin, or any container that’s easy to use.

4. Grab Your Dog and Move to The Bathroom

Bring your dog through your home and into the bathroom alongside the wash mixture immediately. Wear gloves, wet your dog before scrubbing them, and have a towel ready to dry them off afterward.

Australian shepherd dog bath with shampoo
Image Credit: Kozak_studio, Shutterstock

5. Apply the Mixture and Scrub

Apply the mixture all over your dog (avoiding their eyes) and scrub them gently but thoroughly. Make sure to work quickly and cover all areas, as time is of the essence when your dog has been sprayed. Skunk oil will sink into the fur if left, and the smell can hang around for up to a year once it gets embedded in dog hair!

6. Let It Sink in

After completely covering your dog, leave the mixture to sink in for 20 minutes. This is to allow the peroxide and baking soda to do their work.

dog owner giving pet pitbull a bath
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

7. Rinse and Shampoo

Rinse the mix thoroughly, then wash your dog with their usual shampoo (or a special skunk shampoo if you have one), making sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. This can then be repeated two or three times more if needed.

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Things to Look Out for – Safety Tips

When using the hydrogen peroxide mixture, there are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Dogs can vomit if they lick up the mixture, so try to prevent them from ingesting it.
  • Black dogs (and dark dogs) can have their fur lightened by the hydrogen peroxide, don’t be alarmed if this occurs.
  • Keep it out of your dog’s eyes, as it can burn.

Alternatives to Hydrogen Peroxide

There are a few alternatives to consider if you don’t want to use the hydrogen peroxide mix. They may not be as effective, but they are good options, and they all use items you can find around the home:

Tomato Juice Method

While unorthodox, this method can be effective, cheap, and easy to complete while being completely safe. These are the steps:

  1. Wash your dog in their regular shampoo.
  2. Completely cover your dog in tomato juice, saturating the coat and gently working it in. Don’t rinse!
  3. Leave the juice on for 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse the juice off thoroughly, then re-wash with dog shampoo.

For this method, fresh tomato juice is what is needed to deodorize your pup, and if you have a white or light-colored dog, their fur may temporarily turn orange after using this method.

English bulldog having a bath
Image Credit: ChasIKS, Shutterstock

Specific Skunk Spray Products

There are also (luckily) specific products on the market that are made to get rid of skunk spray and the horrid smell. Products like skunk shampoo or a de-odorizing skunk spray can be used immediately on your dog with no prior prep.

Just follow any instructions on the packaging and keep all products away from your dog’s eyes.

Why Does Skunk Spray Smell So Bad?

Skunk spray is designed to save a skunk’s life if it’s threatened or attacked. That’s why it is so potent. Skunk spray contains a substance called thiols, which has a very characteristic rotten egg smell and is made in the animal’s anal glands.

While this is a stinky situation for us, it’s a big deal for the skunk. It takes 10 days to completely re-fill their anal glands, and during this time, they’re completely vulnerable to their natural predators, such as great horned owls and wolves.


Final Thoughts

There’s nothing worse than hearing a yelp and smelling the telltale stench of skunk spray on your dog. Knowing what to do is key to getting as much of the smell out as fast as possible, as skunk spray can last for days, weeks, and even months if it’s left to fester.

Not only that, but the oily substance is also an irritant for your dog and can cause them distress and even pain. Cleaning it off them and out of their fur will help to keep them as comfortable as possible after they have been targeted by a sweet-faced yet stinky, striped nemesis.

Featured Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

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