Skunks and Dogs

Skunks and dogs make a combination about as appealing to me as catching a whiff of a baby’s dirty diaper.

Summertime brings freely roaming skunks in some parts of the country. And it isn’t limited to the countryside either. My own dog has been sprayed twice in the last three years by skunks roaming around residential areas where we walk, and these neighborhoods haven’t seen rural countryside in years.

If your dog is unfortunate enough to be sprayed by a skunk you need to know what steps to take immediately. If your dog is lucky enough not to have been the unfortunate recipient of a skunk’s natural defense system, you’ll know what to do should it happen.

You may have heard of home-made skunk odor remedies using tomato juice or vinegar to wash off a dog who has been sprayed, but all these treatments do is cover up the odor. There is a way to remove the odor from your dog using common household items, and for this you can thank chemist Paul Krebaum who developed the recipe in 1993. Skunk spray is very oily and contains sulfur (the source of the stench), and this recipe causes a chemical reaction that breaks up those oils and neutralizes the odor.

Here’s what to do after a skunk sprays your dog:

1. If you weren’t present when your dog was attacked by the skunk, first check for bites or scratches and check the eyes for redness or discharge. If you find that your dog has been injured, you should contact your veterinarian before undertaking any de-skunking procedure.

2. Time is of the essence here – the longer you wait to begin the procedure, the harder it will be to remove the stench. You’ll want to bathe your dog outdoors or in an easy to clean area of your home like a laundry room or bathroom. If the bathing is to take place indoors, open a window to save your nose!

3. Apply 1-2 drops of mineral oil to your dog’s eyes. This will help protect your dog in case any of the de-skunking solution splashes or drips in its eyes.

4. In a large plastic container or bucket, combine 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Add lukewarm water if more solution is needed for larger dogs. Mix all the ingredients, being sure to stir long enough so everything is mixed together well. The solution will fizz, due to the chemical reaction of the ingredients. Use the solution immediately as it cannot be stored and saved for later use.

5. Don’t soak your dog with water prior to the de-skunking. As soon as the solution is ready, start bathing the affected areas thoroughly, massaging the solution deep into your dog’s coat. Use a sponge or washcloth for easier application. Avoid getting the solution in your dog’s eyes, ears or mouth.

6. Allow the solution to soak into your dog’s hair for at least five minutes, keeping it on longer if a strong odor is still noticeable.

7. Next rinse your dog well with lukewarm water. Repeat steps 3-5 as necessary until the odor is completely gone.

8. Dry your dog well.

NEVER place the solution in a closed container or spray bottle, as the pressure will build up and the container could burst causing serious injury to you and your dog.

Don’t use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or substitute the baking soda with a similar product. The altered chemical reaction could cause severe injury to you and your dog.

Skunks and dogs just don’t make a pleasant smelling combination so you might want to print this post and save it in a place where you can easily find it if your dog ever becomes the unfortunate victim of a skunk attack.