Q: What do I do if my dog is sprayed by a skunk?
A: Summer is a time for outdoor fun like swimming, hiking, and camping. But if your pooch is the outdoorsy type, there are a few cautions when it comes to wildlife. If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, it can seem as if you’ll never get the smell out. When I was about 11 years old, our dog got sprayed and we tried to fix it with tomato juice (it did not work). Don’t panic. Here are a few good tips for de-skunking your pet—and your home!
A Few Things About Skunks
Though skunks are generally docile animals that do not seek out confrontation, they’re not shy about discharging their scent glands if they feel challenged or frightened. When skunks spray, they generally aim for the head. Skunk spray can irritate your pet’s eyes, and if ingested (or sprayed in the mouth) may cause vomiting.
Skunk spray is made up of oils such as thiols and thioacetates, which cannot be broken down by water alone. In fact, rinsing your dog with just water can exacerbate the effects of the spray. We recommend that you use a store-bought de-skunking mixture or use the easy recipe provided below.
Instructions For De-Skunking Your Pet
If your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, don’t attempt to bring your pet into the house. De-skunking your dog outdoors will help keep the odor out of your home. A backyard washtub or mini-pool can make a great place to bathe your pet outside.
First, Check your dog’s eyes. If they seem red or irritated, flush them with cool water. Next, the American Humane Society recommends the following mixture to clean your pet:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available at any drug store)
- ¼ cup of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid
- Put on rubber gloves.
- Bathe your dog thoroughly, rubbing the mixture deep into the fur. Be careful not to get any of the cleaning solution into your dog’s eyes, as it may irritate them.
- Rinse promptly. Peroxide can actually bleach your dog’s fur if left on too long, so be sure to rinse the cleaning mixture fully from your pet’s fur.
- Now wash your pet again with regular pet shampoo.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Towel-dry your pet and provide a cozy warm place for your pooch to relax—this has likely been a stressful day for both of you!
Tip: If you don’t have the ingredients listed above, you may substitute a solution of vinegar in water.
De-Skunking Your Clothes & Home
Skunk odor is stubborn, and it won’t quit without a fight. To remove the smell from your clothes:
- Wash affected clothing twice in hot water with a strong detergent
- Air dry—do not use a clothes dryer
- Stay mindful of care instructions on garment labels
If your pet has brought the skunk smell into your home, you may need to take more drastic action:
- Remove the source of the odor
- Open doors and windows to ventilate your home
- Dry affected shoes or rugs outdoors
- Change the air filters in your home’s HVAC system (or buy a home air purifier)
We hope these tips will help de-skunk your pet and your home with a minimum of stress.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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