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What Should I Do If My Dog Gets Sprayed By A Skunk?

With the improving weather of spring and summer, we humans are not the only ones taking advantage of the warmth and sunshine - wild animals do too. This means you may have some undesired encounters with various critters. And because our dogs are curious, playful creatures, they may have some of these encounters too. But this can make for a stinky situation if that creature is a skunk.

When threatened, skunks use their scent glands as a weapon, though not as their first line of defense. They will first try hissing, stamping their feet and raising their tails as warning signs. But if that doesn't work, skunks will release their oily, sulfuric scent with a high degree of accuracy from 10-15 feet away.

So with skunk season picking up, here are some tips about what to do if your dog is sprayed by a skunk:

Keep Your Dog Outside

First things first, keep your dog outside of the house. Your initial thought may be to bring your dog in for a bath, but you don't want the skunk odor in your home. The more things your dog comes in contact with, the more you need to de-skunk.

Check Your Dog For Injuries

Skunk spray contains chemicals call thiols, which make the smell pungent. But the spray not only smells bad, it can also cause irritation and temporary blindness. Check your dog for injuries, particularly his or her eyes, nose and mouth. If you see signs of redness or irritation, flush your dog's eyes with lots of cool water or saline solution.

Next, check to see if your dog has any bites or scratches. This is unlikely as skunks prefer to "attack" from a distance with their spray, but any signs of injury will likely require vet attention.

Pro Tip: If you live in an area where skunks are common, you may want to keep some extra eye cleaning products at home.

Remove The Spray Oils ASAP

It's important to remove the skunk's spray from your dog's coat as quickly as possible. To do so, put on some rubber gloves and use paper towels to absorb the spray liquid by patting your dog's fur. Do not use wiping motions as that is more likely to just spread around the oils.

Give Your Dog A Bath

Now your pup is ready for a bath, preferably one outdoors but you can also use your garage. The most common household remedy to remove the smell of skunk spray is tomato juice. But this isn't always successful, which is why there are products made specifically for this situation. Or you can create your own skunk odor cleaner using:

  • 1 quart of 3% (or less) hydrogen peroxide solution
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap

To apply, wear rubber gloves and massage the mixture into your dog's dry fur. Make sure to be thorough, getting deep into their coat to remove all remnants of odor. If your dog has been sprayed in the face, use a washcloth and carefully apply the mixture while avoiding the eyes, ears and mouth. 

Keep the mixture on for no more than five minutes to avoid bleaching the fur. Rinse the mixture off and repeat the process until all smell is gone. You can use dog shampoo to remove the last of the solution and also add a nice scent to your dog's coat. Once finished, dry your dog using old towels and let him finish drying in a warm or sunny room.

Pro Tip: Do not store this mixture, as it can explode if kept in a closed container.

Wash Your Own Clothes

Don't worry if you got any skunk odor on your own clothes because you'll be able to remove it. Just put them in the washing machine with regular laundry detergent and add a 1/2 cup of baking soda.

Give Your Dog Some Extra Love

Remember to give your dog some extra love during and after the whole ordeal. Getting sprayed by a skunk is an uncomfortable situation and can often be stressful for dogs. Your pup will appreciate the extra love after going through all that.
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