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What to Do if Your Dog Gets Skunked



I remember a few years ago one summer night I let my dog out to do his business before bedtime. When I opened the door to let him back in I was faced with the most foul smell I've ever smelled. I knew right away it was skunk. He had been sprayed right on his chest! He ran into the house and into his crate, I frantically got him out, then he ran into our bedroom carrying that odor all throughout the house with him! Now there's an experience you will never forget! We quickly scoured the internet in search of a solution to get him cleaned and deodorized and also to get the smell out of the house. Just what we wanted to do at 1:00 in the morning! Here are a few tips I've come across and what personally worked for us...

The skunk is not an aggressive animal, but if threatened it will act in self-defense. When a skunk is startled is makes a warning sound like a purr or growl before emitting its sulphuric spray (mercaptan). It will warn its target by raising its tail, standing on its hind legs and stomping its feet. The oily spray is not only extremely foul smelling, but very hard to get out of a dog's fur. The quicker you act, the more chance you have of removing the odor. If you don't act quickly, skunk odor can remain for up to two years, especially when the dog gets wet.

Store Bought De-Skunking Products

There are several commercially made skunk odor removing products you can buy in most pet stores or on the internet. Most of these work well. You might consider purchasing a product to keep on hand.

     Skunk Off
     Simple Green
     Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover
     Earth Friendly Skunk Odor Remover
     Earth's Balance - Skunk Free
     Petastic - Skunk Odor Eliminator
     BioWorld Odor Neutralizer (BON-CC-41)

You may not always have any of these products on hand when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, and usually the encounter happens at night when pet stores are closed, so here are some alternative home remedies...

Tomato Juice Method

Saturating your dog's coat in tomato juice and then bathing the dog with dog shampoo is a controversial method. Some say it works, most say it doesn't. Some say it will leave your dog's coat all red. Tomato juice only masks the odor, but doesn't remove it. You'll end up with a dog smelling of skunk AND tomato juice!

Hydrogen Peroxide/Baking Soda/Dish Soap Method

This is the method we used and it worked wonders. Use paper towels to wipe off any oily spray that has not yet soaked in to the fur. In a bucket or bowl, mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap (Dawn is preferred). The mixture will fizz. Wet your dog and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat. You might want to wear a pair of rubber gloves. Be sure to avoid eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Use a washcloth or sponge and gently and carefully wash face if necessary. Let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the dog thoroughly. Repeat if necessary with a fresh batch.

WARNING: Do not store unused portion of this mixture in an enclosed container. it will fizz, creating pressure and could be explosive. Discard any leftover.

This method works because skunk spray is composed of a low molecular weight thiol compound. In industrial applications, alkaline hydrogen peroxide is used for scrubbing similar compounds from waste gas streams. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, when combined, become a "chemical engine" for churning out oxygen. The soap breaks up the oils in the skunk spray, allowing the other ingredients to do their work.

You can use a little milk for the eyes and nose if they were sprayed on the face.

Removing Skunk Odor From the House

Depending on the season, open windows if you can, and turn on fans.

You can sprinkle baking soda on carpets and allow to sit overnight then vacuum up.

Using several ceramic or glass bowls, try any of the following and place the bowls around the house (out of reach of pets or children) to soak up the odor:

     Saturate cotton balls with real vanilla extract, place in bowls
     Bleach
     Apple cider vinegar (organic is best)
     Fresh coffee grounds

We did the coffee grounds and apple cider vinnegar and the smell was all gone in a day.

For your clothing, soak in vinegar overnight, then Dawn dish soap, then launder.

Sources: dogbreedinfo.com; drydog.com; wisegeek.com; dogs.about.com; petcare.suite101.com; home-remedy.org; grandmashomeremedies.com; buzzle.com