Whew! De-Skunk Your Pet

Spring is coming around the corner and that means there are a number of things we need to be aware of when letting our pets out in the yard, run through the dog park, or hike. Aside from parasites, thorns from plants, and poisonous plants, we need to make sure our dogs and cats are safe from skunks, especially their defensive spray.

Skunk spray can cause irritation to your pet’s face, mouth, and lungs. If your dog is hit in the eyes, he can be blinded for up to two days. The skunk’s defensive spray is not only horrible to smell but also tough to get out of pet fur, clothing, or anything it comes into contact with. If you don’t act quickly, the smell can stick around for months to years!
The old tomato juice bath does not work. It can help lessen the smell but it doesn’t break down the chemical compounds of the skunk spray and completely eradicate it. Skunk spray needs to be oxidized. A peroxide mixture is the most effective smell removal agent, as proven on an episode of Mythbusters.

Before you fill up the bathtub and roll up your sleeves, make sure you take a few steps:

1.  Put on some old clothes.  Skunk spray is actually an oil and is very difficult to remove from clothing. 

2.  If possible, leave the dog outside to prevent the odor ridden oils from getting into your house till you are ready to bathe him.

3.  Pinpoint where the spray hit the dog.  Depending on your dog’s hair type, you may be able to trim away or comb out some of the affected hair.

4. You can use paper towels to soak up the oils from the coat before you begin washing. If you use a real towel you will have to toss it as the oils may not come out 100%. Be careful not to spread the oils from one part of the dog to another.

5.  Be prepared to give the dog more than one bath because some of the skunk oil may spread no matter how much you try to keep it contained to one area.

The best mixture to use contains the following ingredients:

1 quart hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda

2 teaspoons dishwashing soap (liquid)

Baking soda neutralizes the smell, dishwashing liquid breaks up the skunk oil and the hydrogen peroxide bubbles the oils off the hair. The mixture will fizz.  Wet your dog and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat.  Be sure to keep the mixture out of the dogs eyes, nose and mouth.  If it is necessary to apply it to the dogs face, use a washcloth or a sponge and be extremely careful. Never store unused portion, always discard. 

Image Source: Erwin C. Nielsen/Painet Inc., Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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3 thoughts on “Whew! De-Skunk Your Pet

  1. Any ideas on how to keep skunks away?????? I can’t control the neighbors yards where they live – is there some deterrent I can use on the perimeter of my yard? I’ve heard month balls work but 300 feet of month balls is a lot!! Any suggestions appreciated!!

  2. The best way to keep skunks off your property is to remove the reason they are visiting your property. Remove pet food and keep your trash inside. Skunk also don’t like to enter areas where there is bright lights, so if you keep outdoor lights on you should be able to deter the skunks since they don’t like any small changes in the locations they prefer.

  3. Thanks for the information!
    We just moved to a rural area and with all the other concerns, the very THOUGHT of our Border Collie (all that undercoat!) meeting up with a cute little ‘striped kitty’ is disgusting enough!
    I hope I NEVER need to use this ‘remedy!’
    Anyone else have advice for keeping Pepe Le’ Phew away?