I let my dog outside and heard quite the commotion coming from next door.
I walked over to my neighbor’s backyard and found her hosing down her Golden Retriever, Ansel, and spewing some choice words.
As I got closer, the reason was apparent: A strong skunk odor wafted toward me. “My dog got skunked!” the neighbor exclaimed. “What should I do?” I calmed her down and went to find supplies.
You’ll find commercial skunk odor removers, such as Doggiekleen and Skunk Off, in stores and online. But they have widely mixed reviews and are no help when stores are closed (skunks are nocturnal, so most sprays occur at night).
Tomato juice is an age-old remedy, but many studies advise against using it for reasons such as:
- It doesn’t actually remove the skunk smell.
- It leaves a tomato odor.
- It may attract insects and ants if not fully rinsed.
- If your pet shakes off mid- or post-application, your bathroom may look like something out of a horror film.
A Remedy That Works
Chemist Paul Krebaum created a simple solution to combat skunk odor on pets with these ingredients:
- 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (new, unopened bottle)
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 1–2 teaspoons liquid soap (Dawn is recommended for its grease-cutting properties)
- Latex gloves
Prepare an open container for the mixture — never use a closed container or store the solution, as there is a strong possibility of explosion. Hold off on making it until you’re ready to apply it to the fur.
9 Steps to De-Skunk Your Pet
- Don’t wait. The longer the skunk spray stays on, the more time it has to dry and seep further in.
- Contain the stink. If your pet is outdoors, keep him there. If indoors, get him into a bathroom immediately, avoiding contact with any furnishings.
- Wear clothes you don’t mind ruining.
- Using paper towels, soak up as much of the spray as possible. Wipe only the affected area so the oil does not spread.
- Mix the solution in an open container. Again, never use a closed container.
- If your pet’s fabric collar was also sprayed, leave it on for the bath.
- Apply the mixture directly to the area most affected while avoiding your pet’s eyes, nose and mouth. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes. If your pet has long fur, trimming it to remove the smell is another option.
- Rinse off the solution thoroughly with warm water and wash the animal with regular pet shampoo. Rinse and dry.
- Pour any remaining solution down the drain. Do not store any leftover solution.
If your pet’s face was sprayed, flush the eyes with a saline solution. Apply mineral oil to the eyes to avoid stinging or redness from the bath. Flush the eyes again with saline to remove the mineral oil. Wipe the nostrils and mouth with a paper towel or cotton balls soaked in saline.
Milk may be another way to treat the eyes and face.
These alternative remedies can help temporarily reduce the odor if you can’t make the solution above:
- Apple cider vinegar (you can also substitute this for hydrogen peroxide in the solution)
- Peppermint mouthwash
- Quart of beer (the yeast cultures may help break down the oil)
Adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract can also leave a pleasant post-treatment scent.
Skunks can carry rabies. If your pet has a bite or scratch or is foaming/drooling at the mouth, get him to a veterinarian quickly. Always keep your vaccinations current and check your pets’ records for the date of their last rabies shot.
Small dogs may be at risk for additional medical trouble depending on how much spray enters their respiratory system. Use the recommended cleaning solution and visit the vet as soon as possible.
Check out this story of skunk spray removal:
Household and Clothing Issues
Wash affected clothes, towels or cotton items as soon as possible. Add vinegar and baking soda to double down on scent removal.
Boil vinegar and water or place vanilla extract-soaked cotton balls in bowls around the odor-affected rooms of your house. Bowls of bleach also work, but this method can be dangerous to kids and pets.
Look outside your home for evidence of burrowing/nesting areas of skunks or points of entry. If you find any, place mothballs in and around the area, making sure they stay put.
If your pet hasn’t been skunked but you live in an area where that’s a distinct possibility, please bookmark this page for future reference.