Dog Care
The best way to remove skunk odor from a dog is with a skunk odor removal spray or with antiseptic mouthwash. You should never try...

How Can I Remove Skunk Odor from a Dog?

September 10, 2021
Susana Bradford
2 minute read

If a skunk sprays your dog, it is important to wash your pet as soon as possible to remove the spray and prevent its transfer to your carpets, bedding, and furniture. Simple soap and water or standard dog shampoo won't neutralize skunk odor. Rinse or wipe as much spray off the dog as you can, then follow up with a commercial skunk odor shampoo or a blend of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap, followed by a standard pet shampoo. While this is something that you can probably do on your own, if you have asthma or are very sensitive to skunk musk, you may need to use the services of a professional dog groomer.

Commercial Treatments

Pet stores usually sell special shampoos intended for use on dogs or cats that have been "skunked." These products tend to be pretty effective, and often use a blend of enzymes to neutralize the skunk odor and remove it. Follow the instructions carefully and do not get the shampoo in your dog's eyes or mouth, and do not let your dog lick it off his fur. Many stores also sell household cleaners and sprays for deodorizing carpets and furniture, which are not always suitable for use on an animal, so make sure that you're using one specifically made for pets. If you know that your pet has very sensitive skin, you may want to ask your vet for a product recommendation.

Our favorite products to help de-skunk your pup and get them smelling good again are:

  1. Our Top Pick - Hyponic De-Skunk Shampoo
  2. Best Value - Skouts Honor Shampoo

Anxiety

Your dog might be experiencing some anxiety given the smell. This depends on the dog, some experiencing it quite acutely and others less so. If your dog does show signs of discomfort, anxiety, or is just generally uncomfortable it could help to give them something that helps calm them down until the odor has been appropriately dealt with:

Our favorite products for anxiety are natural remedies like:

  1. Our Top Pick - Canna-Pet CBD Capsules (choose based on dog size)

Homemade Treatments

Contrary to popular belief, tomato juice is not a particularly effective deodorizing treatment. While tomato juice can cause olfactory fatigue by overwhelming your nose with its own scent, it is not a permanent treatment.

Instead, many experts suggest that one of the best treatments is to use a recipe developed by chemist Paul Krebaum. It combines 1 quart (950 mL) fresh hydrogen peroxide, 0.25 cup (60 mL) of baking soda, and 1 or 2 teaspoons (5 or 10 mL) of liquid dish soap or laundry detergent. Mix these ingredients in an open container and do not attempt to store it for later use, as the chemical reaction between the peroxide and the baking soda may cause it to explode.

homemade treatments for skunk odor

Application Tips

Right after mixing the deodorizing solution, put on rubber gloves and lather the solution over your dog's body. When treating the head and face, use a sponge or cloth dipped in the solution and be very careful not to get it in the dog's eyes; treat the dog's head last to prevent him from shaking off the solution. Let the mixture sit on the dog's fur for five minutes and then rinse it off. You may need to repeat the treatment several times if the odor remains, and then wash your dog with standard dog shampoo. Dry the dog with a towel or let him air dry, as heat from a blow dryer can bake residual skunk musk into the dog's fur and skin, resulting in a lingering smell.

Skunk Odor

A skunk's spray — actually a type of musk produced by its anal glands — is its primary defense against attackers. It can repel bears and can even cause temporary blindness, though there is no risk of permanent damage. Spray victims may also experience nausea and have trouble breathing if the musk is inhaled. Despite its foul smell, the effects on humans and domestic pets are generally temporary. If your dog's eyes appear to be irritated or you catch him frequently rubbing his face, however, take him to the vet for treatment.

Prevention Tips

Skunks are typically peaceful creatures and usually do not spray without provocation. Their supply of spray is limited to about five individual sprays, and it takes more than a week to replenish, so they would rather scare a predator than waste their musk. As a result, they usually hiss, tap their feet, and bunch up their tails to scare away other animals. Unfortunately, dogs don't always understand these behaviors as warnings and may still approach, triggering the spray.

Possibly the best way to prevent your dog from getting sprayed is to discourage skunks from visiting your yard. They are primarily nocturnal, so be sure to remove pet food, birdseed, fallen fruit, and other things they can eat from your yard before nightfall. The great horned owl is a predator of skunks, so some experts advise adding plastic great horned owls to your garden décor as a deterrent.

Check out Pettable’s blog for more resources on pet care.

Meet the author:

Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.