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Breed & Health Resources

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Dogs

By Dr. Patty Khuly

skunk spray on dog

The season of the skunk happens when they make their way out of their winter-time hidey-holes and roam the landscape in rural and settled suburban areas. Unsuspecting dogs may frighten them into unleashing their noxious spray that repels, repulses, and remains infused in your dog’s coat.

If you’ve had this misfortune to have a dog sprayed by skunk, we feel for you. Here are a few ways to remove the smell from your dog.

Skunk Smell Removal

After practicing ER medicine for a few years in prime skunk territory and fielding many nighttime emergencies related to skunks, recommending remedies became second nature.

Here is my standard approach to skunk spray:

  1. If your dog’s eyes are red and they’re pawing at them, visit the vet for an exam. Otherwise, veterinary attention is not needed.
  2. Before bathing or getting them wet, try to absorb as much of the skunk spray oil as you can with paper towels and dispose of them outdoors.
  3. Give a soapy bath as quickly after as possible. Wear gloves and disposable clothing. Use a mild degreasing kitchen soap like Dawn®.
  4. Mix one quart of hydrogen peroxide with one-third cup of baking soda and a dash of the grease-cutting soap. Double the recipe for giant-breed dogs who have been sprayed.
  5. Pour into a spray bottle and spray liberally onto the affected pet. Disperse into the hair, massaging into the skin like a shampoo.
  6. Rinse and reapply, let sit for at least an hour before the final rinse, or leave it on overnight if it’s very strong.

You can outsource this job to your local vet or groomer, but it’ll cost you.

How to Get Rid of Skunks

When you live in an area prone to skunks, you want to make sure to do what you can to let them know they’re not welcome in your yard. Skunks spray when they feel threatened, so a hands-off approach might be best.

Humane Traps and Repellents

There are many natural options:

  1. Dog and fox urine: dogs and foxes are popular predators of skunks. Spraying their urine around your yard will deter skunky visitors.
  2. Citrus: citrus peels and smells are natural skunk deterrents. Be sure not to scatter peels too much around your yard as they may attract other unwanted prey.
  3. Ammonia: soaking old rags in ammonia and placing them under your deck, porch, or in other sheltered areas will stop skunks from coming in.

Cut Down on "Skunk Hospitality”

Make sure that all food is properly stored in garbage cans or set outside of where your dog goes out. This eliminates the possibility of skunks wandering into your yard looking for scraps.

Additionally, get rid of any shelter the skunk may find appealing. Fill ground burrows, set up fencing, and make sure all sheds, garages, or shelter-like structures are impenetrable.

Watch Your Dog at Night

Go out with your dog at night. Turn on lights for more visibility in your yard and keep an eye out while your dog uses the bathroom. Skunks are more likely to avoid well-lit areas, and if you see one, you can call your dog inside before the skunk sprays.

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