How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Dogs

You know to avoid them but does your dog? Dogs are curious creatures which makes them all the more likely to get in a skunk’s line of fire. They don’t even have to be all that close to be hit by the mist as it can travel as much as 10 feet (or 3 meters). Although the spray causes no real or lasting damage, it can cause blindness for up to two days if it gets in the eyes. Not to mention it leaves one heck of a smell that is extremely hard to get out. If it isn’t treated quickly, the smell can linger for months or even a year!

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Your Dog

Before you start:

  1. Do NOT hose your dog down. This will soak in the smell, making it harder to remove.
  2. Change into clothes you don’t mind throwing out. The oil and smell will transfer and you do not want to launder these clothes in your washing machine. In fact, it could ruin your washing machine
  3. Keep your dog outdoors or limit their activity inside.
  4. If you need to wash them down inside, open windows and keep the area well ventilated.
  5. Check them over for any cuts, bites or scratch marks. If you find any, get them into a vet or animal hospital ASAP.
  6.  Save the tomato juice: it doesn’t actually work.

1.Hydrogen Peroxide Method

  • 1 quart hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1-2tsp liquid soap
  • For large breeds you will need to double or triple this recipe.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, let fizz and then apply right away using a wash cloth. Concentrate on the strongest smelling areas and be very careful around the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Let the solution stand for 5 minutes and rinse with either a mixture of soap and water or their shampoo and water. Make sure all of the hydrogen peroxide is removed.

This method works tremendously well but the hydrogen peroxide can irritate your skin and your pets’. Wear gloves and use a washcloth to apply and do not let the mixture sit on your dog’s coat longer than 5 minutes. You will need to repeat this process, once, twice, maybe even three or four times to fully remove the odor. This is normal, it does not mean you are doing something wrong.

If you have any of the solution left over, do not store it. This mixture works due to the chemical reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and the baking soda. If left in a closed container, the pressure will cause it to burst.

2.Store-Bought Remedies

There are de-skunking products available at most veterinary clinics and pet stores however, these may be hard to get a hold of when you actually need them. Especially since your dog is most likely to get sprayed ‘after-hours’. If you happen to have a de-skunk remedy on-hand, follow the directions. As with the hydrogen peroxide method, you will likely have to repeat this process multiple times as well.
If you used the hydrogen peroxide method above and your dog still has a lingering smell a few days later, try using one of the store-bought remedies. And it wouldn’t hurt to pick up an extra bottle…just in case.

3.Mouthwash Method

This remedy works best for little dogs. Why? Just think how much mouthwash you would need for a Great Dane.
The mouthwash works as a pre-treatment. Pour it over the worst smelling areas, being careful to avoid the eyes, ears and nose, and massage it into the skin for 10-15 minutes. This is necessary to really permeate the smell.
Next, shampoo your dog as you usually would but let it sit for another 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

4.Grooming

Many pet groomers offer emergency appointments for de-skunking. But similar to de-skunking shampoos the difficulty is, the business needs to be open to utilize the service. It may be a good idea to get your dog in for this treatment a day or two after using a home-based method anyway.

No matter which method you use, know it will take time and repeat efforts to fully rid your dog of the skunk smell. The oils sprayed are very strong and permeating.

Remember spring and summer are prime skunk season. To help prevent future skunking’s follow these tips:

  • Turn a light on to scare away any skunks before letting the dog out in the backyard at night.
  • Do not leave trash out overnight. Garbage will attract skunks.
  • Check your yard for places where a skunk could hide and keep your dog away from that area.
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