The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Help! My Dogs Been Skunked!!

An drawn image of a brown dog play bowing at the back end of a skunk that is spraying its stink out onto the dog's face.

Dogs can be very curious. This sometimes can get them into a stink of trouble. If your dog encounters a skunk it is likely to get sprayed if it insists on checking out this newly found creature. When a skunk is startled it will make a peculiar purring sound, sometimes growling. Before emitting its sulfuric spray (mercaptan) in self-defense, it will warn its target by raising its tail, standing on its hind legs and stomping its front feet. The mercaptan it sprays not only carries a terrible odor but, if it hits the eyes, will blind the skunk's target for up to two days. Your dog may come home with more than it had bargained for when it encountered the four legged, striped little fellow. The skunk's spray is not only extremely foul smelling, but it is very hard to get out of a dogs fur. Your dog may smell for quite some time if you do not act quickly. A fresh spray smells so bad it burns your nose. The closest comparison I can think of is the smell of burning rubber or plastic. If you or your pet get sprayed it is important to work quickly to get the skunk oil out and neutralized. If you do not act quickly the smell can last up to two years!

Tips: Before You Bathe Your "Skunked" Dog

  1. Before handling your dog, you may want to put on some old clothes. Skunk spray is actually an oil and is very difficult to remove from clothing. Do not let your dog lay in his dog bed or the skunk oils will get on the bed.
  2. If possible, leave the dog outside to prevent the odor-ridden oils from getting into your house.
  3. Determine 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 most likely have to toss it as the oils may not come out 100% and your towel may smell for a long time. Be careful not to spread the oils from one part of the dog to another. Only wipe where the oils are already to avoid making the problem worse.
  5. When you're ready to wash the dog, only clean the sprayed area. Skunk spray is oily and can easily be spread all over the dog. You will most likely have to give the dog more than one bath, so save an all-over bath until the second or third washing.

How do I get the odor out?

An Animated gif of a drawn brown dog barking. A drawing of a black and white Skunk.

It may be particularly hard to get the odor out of those dogs with thick double coats. If quick action is not taken it is possible to smell the odor on your dog for up to two years, especially when the dog gets wet.

It is best to bathe your dog with a shampoo before the skunk's sulfuric spray dries on the fur. After bathing you can try some of the following methods.

Store bought De-Skunking Products

There are several products you can buy at the store to de-skunk your dog, which I think work best, but one does not always have them on-hand when their dog gets sprayed.

Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover
Earth Friendly Skunk Odor Remover

Tomato Juice or Mouthwash

A couple old methods used include saturating the dog's coat in tomato juice or mouthwash and then bathing the dog thoroughly with a canine shampoo. However the effectiveness of these methods are questionable and it is said that the tomato juice will leave your dog’s coat all red.

Another Somewhat Effective Method

Paul Krebaum, a chemist, invented a new more effective formula for de-skunking a dog. Mix in an open bucket or bowl:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup baking soda
1 teaspoon of strong liquid soap such as dishwashing detergent.

Mix the ingredients in an open bucket or bowl. The mixture will fizz. Wet your dog and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat. Be sure to keep the mixture out of the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. If it is necessary to apply it to the dog’s face, very carefully use a washcloth or a sponge. After applying the mixture to all parts of your dog that may have been sprayed, rinse the dog thoroughly.


This mixture can be explosive, as it will fizz and creates pressure if it is enclosed in a sealed tight container. Never store unused portion; always discard. Be sure to only mix in an open container and do not try to store or cover it in any way. Do not get the mixture into the dog's eyes, nose or mouth.