Realizing your dog has been skunked is one of every pet owner’s worst nightmares. With a scent that can last for weeks not only on the dog but also inside the house and even on humans, every pet parent should know what to do if a pet becomes a little too curious with the striped animal.
Do Not Bring your Dog Indoors
When your dog gets skunked your first instinct may be to bring your pet indoors to get him or her into the tub as soon as possible. Avoid the urge, however, as this will simply cause your dog and your house to smell skunky.
Do Not Wash
The chemical responsible for the characteristic skunk spray is a compound called a thiol, which does not dissolve in water. While your second instinct (after taking your dog inside) may be to grab the hose, avoid this temptation, as spraying your dog with water or another water-based substance (like tomato juice) will simply spread the skunk oil further into your dog’s fur instead of removing the stench.
Neutralize the Odor in the Skunk’s Oil
If you aren’t supposed to bring your dog indoors and you shouldn’t go straight for the hose, what should you do first? The answer is to “deactivate” the skunk smell by neutralizing the odors. Have your dog wait outside while you prepare a simple mixture containing a quart of hydrogen peroxide (be sure to use a fresh bottle), ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 – 2 tsp dishwashing detergent. After the solution has finished bubbling, apply evenly to your dog’s coat until the smell has dissipated. Then, rinse your dog clean.
Give your Dog a Bath
The next step is to give your dog a normal bath. Although the smell should be gone, an oily residue will remain that can only be removed with shampoo. At this point, it is advisable to wash your dog as you typically would while paying close attention to the areas that feel slimy or oily. For extreme cases, your dog may require a couple washings in order to remove the entire residue.
Home “de-skunking” Recipes
There are a number of recipes posted online that supposedly work for removing skunk smell, but be aware that hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is the only chemically proven solution that neutralizes the odor. One common DIY remedy is tomato juice. While the acidity in this juice will work to cut through some of the oils, much of the odor will remain (and will also leave your light-colored dog looking pink). Other people swear by vinegar because this masks the smell, but does little to remove it.
There are also products available at pet stores that can help remove skunk odors. By far, one of the top recommended items is Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover, which acts as a shampoo. Other products, such as Clean + Green De-Skunk Coat Cleaner, function as a spray that allow for quick odor neutralization when away from home.