Dogs are curious creatures by nature. They like to chase squirrels and cats and foxes and birds… and skunks.
In order to get rid of skunk odor, and to avoid transferring it to yourself in the process, you will need the following:
- One skunky dog
- One quart hydrogen peroxide
- One-fourth cup baking soda
- One tablespoon of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn (make sure to use hand dish soap, not the kind you put in the dishwasher)
- A bottle of the dog shampoo you typically use
- Old clothing and gloves (for you to wear)
As soon as you realize your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, you want to wash him as soon as possible so that the oil doesn’t have a chance to dry.
If he’s outside, do not let him in the house if possible. Once you’ve finished deskunking the dog, you don’t want to have to repeat the procedure on your carpeting and furniture. If you must bring him inside, or it’s already too late, sprint to the bathtub as fast as humanly possible with your dog in tow.
Be certain to put on old clothing before handling your dog, as the skunk’s oil may be transferred to you and can be difficult if not impossible to remove from the fibers later. Also wear gloves to prevent any skin irritation.
Prepare the Wash
The old wives tale is that the best odor remover for skunk spray is tomato juice. But you can actually make a much more effective deodorant solution yourself. Take the peroxide, baking soda and dish soap and mix them together in a bowl or bucket. If your dog is large or has long hair, you can always double the recipe. Don’t be alarmed when the mixture bubbles up. That’s just the peroxide reacting with the baking soda, like the volcano kids always make at the science fair. It will actually help to neutralize the smell.
However, due to this reaction, you will have to use this mixture immediately after you mix it. Do not wait – and don’t seal it away in a container, for obvious reasons.
The Cleaning Process
Lather the dog
With your dog in the tub or a secure outdoor area, speak calmly and positively to him as you wet his fur and then lather him up with the soap mixture. Wash his entire coat, but if you know of the area on his body where he was sprayed, pay special attention to that area.
Use caution around your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. Make sure none of the mixture makes its way in to these areas. If you’re worried, you can wash his face with a washcloth. Also, do not let your dog lick the solution off of his fur.
Rinse him off
Rinse your dog with water that is room temperature. Make sure that you get all of the soap mixture out of his fur, or it may irritate his skin in the future.
Repeat if needed
Does he smell better yet? If not, you’ll have to mix some more soap solution and wash him again. It may take a couple tries, especially if his coat had time to dry between now and the time he was sprayed. You can also try letting the solution sit on his coat for a couple minutes before you wash him. Be sure to mix a new batch of solution before each washing. It loses its effectiveness quickly if left to sit out.
Wash him with his regular shampoo
If you’ve been washing him outside, it’s okay to move to the bathroom if that’s easier for you and he no longer smells, but it’s important to wash him again with his regular shampoo so that his hair and skin are conditioned. Plus, then he won’t smell like dish detergent. Then, rinse and dry him as normal. See how to wash your dog for more information.
Other things to try
If you need to wash your dog right away and you don’t have all of the ingredients necessary to make the soap mixture, there are a couple other things you can try.
- Oranges– Make a soap solution by mixing the dish soap with pureed oranges. (Put five to ten of the fruits in the blender with the peels still on and blend on high to make the puree.) This soap should sit on the dog’s coat for about ten minutes in order to work well.
- Soda – Most likely you’ll have some sort of carbonated beverage in the house. The air bubbles in the soda can be used to mimic the reaction of the baking soda/peroxide mixture. Wash your dog with a bottle or two of any type, depending on his size. Make sure you wash him again with his normal shampoo or your next task may be removing the ants.
- Store-bought skunk odor removers – Most pet supply stores sell shampoos specifically for the removal of skunk oil and odor. It may be wise to keep a bottle or two on hand, especially if your dog is particularly friendly with polecats.
There’s no way to really prevent your dog from getting sprayed by a skunk, besides keeping him cooped up in the house 24 hours a day. Since that would drive both you and your dog crazy, it’s better to just keep the cleaning and deodorizing products you’ll need handy.