Whether you live in the country or in the suburbs, the chances are good that at some point on one of your daily walks, your dog is going to get “skunked.” We all know that our dogs like to sniff in brushy grasslands and stalk woodpiles – and those areas are perfect for a skunk family to hide away from predators. To a mama skunk, our dogs are predators, and the only defense she has is those scent glands located under her tail. When she squirts on our pets, the horrific smell can last for weeks.
There are a couple of home remedies you can try, but you need to get started right away before the oil from the skunk spray totally saturates your dog’s coat and skin.
Tips BEFORE You Bathe
- Leave your dog outside to keep the smell from coming in your house
- Change into old clothes that you’re willing to throw away. Skunk spray is actually an oil that is as hard to get out of fabric, as it is dog fur. Don’t allow your dog to lie on his bedding for the same reason.
- Make sure to wear disposable rubber gloves when handling or washing your dog. You don’t want the smell on your hands or skin.
- Try blotting some of the skunk spray with paper towels before you begin washing. Don’t rub the oil down further into the hair coat and try not to spread it further on your dog’s fur. If you use a regular bathing towel, you’ll want to use one you can later toss in the trash.
- Determine where the spray hit your dog. You may be able to trim away some of the contaminated fur or comb it out.
Now its time to mix your home remedy using one of the recipes listed below.
In a plastic container, combine 1-quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼-cup baking soda and 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Add lukewarm water if needed (for larger dogs). Mix your ingredients well. The solution will fizz, as a chemical reaction is occurring. Use immediately – do not store. Don’t soak your dog with water prior to bathing; just massage the solution deep into her coat and skin.
Use distilled vinegar to sponge the area that is sprayed to neutralize the odor. Then use a strong dish soap – many homeopathic veterinarians prefer Dawn dishwashing liquid – to cut through the oil (skunk spray is a very oily foam). Follow with regular shampoo and conditioner.
You may need to wash your dog several times in either solution to get rid of all of the smell, allowing each remedy to remain on your dog for at least 10 minutes prior to rinsing with lukewarm water.
Tomato juice has long been used to clear up skunk odors. Take room temperature juice and a wet sponge and thoroughly coat your dog’s hair with the tomato juice. Allow the juice to dry, then bathe and rinse your dog normally. The tomato juice might stain the coat of lighter haired dogs, but that is a small price to pay to get rid of the odor.
Listerine mouthwash is also an alternative. Use it liberally as you would the tomato juice. If your dog has sensitive skin, please note that the acid content of the mouthwash is extremely high and may irritate your dog’s skin.
All-natural products out on the market that have proven to counteract skunk spray better than most home remedies without all the hassle of having to measure and formulate the solutions yourself.
An all-natural neutralizing spray contains essential oils and organic compounds that chemically alter the molecular structure of the odor-causing components of skunk spray. This makes the smell less potent on your dog, your clothes, and any water-safe surface your stinky pet may have contacted. You’ll want to use the spray prior to shampooing your dog.
After using the spray, you’ll want to bathe your pooch in a skunk odor neutralizing shampoo that works quickly and effectively to remove that horrid smell. The naturally derived essential oils and organic chemical compounds in this shampoo not only eliminate skunk odors, but take care of other stinky smells as well. (On a personal note, I’ve used this particular shampoo on my Border Collie who just loves to roll in any rotting fish she finds along the lake front. Whew!!)
If you’re one of those unfortunate pet parents who finds themselves needing a de-skunking shampoo, look your dog over carefully for scratches and scrapes from the skunk and make sure no spray has gotten into your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth. If you suspect your dog has been sprayed around her head, see your veterinarian as soon as possible for medications and pain relief, because skunk spray can be quite caustic if it gets in your dog’s eyes or nose.