While most skunk sprayings don’t do permanent harm to dogs, they will make your dog stink and possibly make it nauseous, as the scent may cling to the dog for days. Skunks live throughout North America and are most active early and late in the day. Fortunately for hunters with dogs, cool weather makes skunks spend more time in their dens. Most hunting dog-skunk encounters take place early in the warm temperatures of the early season. If you live in a colder climate, you and your dogs may go years between skunk sprayings. In fact, in over 30 years of upland hunting, I’ve only had dogs sprayed twice. However, it could happen at any moment, so it’s important you know how to get skunk smell off a dog.
A skunk can shoot its foul-smelling spray up to 15 feet. Skunks make their spray in a pair of glands near their anus. Composed of sulfurous chemicals called thiols, skunk spray is an irritant that stinks and sticks to skin.
If you see a skunk in the field, shooting it should be the last resort. In fact, shooting may backfire as the dog may try to grab after the shot. Skunks don’t want to spray your dog. Get your dog under control and get it away if you can.
Here’s what you need to know about getting through a skunk encounter.
How to Get Skunk Smell Off Dog: Initial Action
1. Get the dog away from the skunk
If you see a skunk in the field, shooting it should be the last resort. In fact, shooting may backfire as the dog may try to grab the skunk after the shot. Skunks don’t want to spray your dog. Get your dog under control and get it away if you can.
2. Keep the dog outside
This should go without saying, but don’t bring a skunked dog into your house or vehicle if possible. Keep it outside until you can treat it.
3. Don’t hose it down
Spraying the dog with water only increases the chance of washing the spray into an open cut where it can sting. Also, skunk spray smells worse when it gets wet.
How to Get Skunk Smell Off Dog: Cleansing Process
4. Make a cleaning solution
A tomato-juice bath was the traditional remedy for a spraying and I can tell you firsthand it was worthless. All tomato juice does is mask the stink and make a red, staining mess. When it wears off, your dog will smell like skunk again. Skip that. There are commercial shampoos formulated to remove skunk smell. Use one of those, or make a batch of de-skunker yourself. Ideally you’ll have all the ingredients you need in your vehicle so you don’t have to fill the car with skunk smell on the way home.
The best home remedy is a shampoo made of:
- 1 quart 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap
Mix it in an open bucket, as it will foam and possibly burst a closed container. Let it sit for a few minutes before use.
5. Apply the de-skunking mixture to your dog
The peroxide/soap/baking soda mix should form a paste. Wearing rubber gloves, work the shampoo into the dog’s fur. Be careful to keep peroxide mixture away from its eyes. Also, don’t let it stand on the coat for long, as the peroxide may bleach the dog’s fur.
The peroxide reacts with the chemicals that make the skunk spray stink and it should reduce the stench by a lot.
You may have to repeat the process a couple of times. Rinse thoroughly when you’re done. You don’t want to leave peroxide on the dog’s coat. You can transport the dog now. It won’t smell great, but it should be bearable.
6. Check the eyes
It’s very likely some of the spray will get in the dog’s eyes. If its eyes are red and irritated, rinse them with water or with a veterinary eye wash.
7. Shampoo your dog
After you have rinsed off the de-skunking solution, use regular pet shampoo to give the dog a bath. There are a number of reliable options to pick from that will work as de-skunk shampoo, several of which are included below.
- Regular pet shampoo
- Roxie Dog Shampoo
- Ruff Berry Blue Doc Shampoo
- True Blue Natural Balance Conditioning Shampoo
- Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo
- Lilian Ruff Berry Blue Doc Shampoo
- Pupper Shampoo
How to Get Skunk Smell Off Dog: Next Steps
8. Follow up with a vet
Skunks can carry rabies, and any skunk you find out in broad daylight is suspect. Follow up with your vet if your dog was bitten during the run-in with the skunk.
9. Clean your clothes and your car
Your hunting clothes may or may not survive this ordeal. Try washing them in your regular detergent plus half a cup of baking soda.
If you brought the dog home inside your car, try a spray bottle of vinegar and water. Mist it onto the seats, then dab it with a cloth.