What to Do If Your Dog Got Sprayed by a Skunk

October 17, 2023

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It's a quiet evening, and you let your dog out for their routine backyard stroll. Suddenly, a stench fills the air. Your worst fear comes true when your pup rushes back with that unmistakable, foul odor. While this is never a fun experience, if your dog got sprayed by a skunk, don’t panic. Barkbus is just a call away if you need professional de-skunking services, but we've also put together this guide on managing the stinky situation.

Understanding Skunk Spray

House smells like a skunk? We know it’s not pleasant. Skunks are infamous for their unique and overpowering spray, a natural defense mechanism that deters potential predators. To deal with this particularly pungent problem, understanding its chemical makeup and the reasons for its intense aroma can be of immense help. Skunk spray — commonly referred to as musk — is a yellowish, oily liquid secreted by glands situated near the base of the skunk's tail. This spray is composed of a concoction of volatile chemicals, primarily:

  • Thiols. These sulfur-containing organic compounds are infamous for their intense odors. Methanethiol and butanethiol are two such chemicals found in skunk spray.
  • Thioacetates. Over time, especially when exposed to water, these chemicals can transform into thiols. This explains why a skunk-sprayed wet dog might have a heightened odor or why the smell can seem to revive after an initial cleanup.

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk

Nobody wants to deal with the aftermath of a dog that has been sprayed by a skunk. However, if your pup does get into a stinky standoff, there are some important things to consider.

Recognize Potential Health Concerns

When a skunk goes into defense mode, your immediate concern is probably the discomforting smell. However, like other wild animals, skunks can also be carriers of rabies. If your dog has been bitten or scratched, it's critical to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Generally, if your dog has only been sprayed, a vet visit might not be necessary. Although, if your dog was sprayed directly in the eyes or mouth, you should see your dog’s vet immediately. Otherwise, make sure you keep an eye on them for any concerning symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or general weakness. 

Take Action Immediately

If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, follow these steps:

  1. Keep the dog outside. This will ensure your house doesn’t smell like skunk.
  2. Check your dog’s eyes. If they appear red or irritated, rinse them with cool water.
  3. Give them a bath. You will need to apply a skunk odor remover for dogs or a homemade solution. Having such remedies on standby can be a lifesaver, so stock up.
  4. Use a de-skunking treatment. It’s helpful to have something like Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover easily accessible at home to help you neutralize and remove skunk odor. Be prepared and have a bottle handy because you never know when you might need it. 

How to Thoroughly Bathe Your Dog

Bathing your dog after a skunk spray is essential. Here’s a summary of how to free your dog from the skunk odor:

  1. Set up the space. Bathe them outdoors to prevent odor indoors. Have your dog skunk shampoo, towels, water, and gloves ready.
  2. Protect yourself. Wear gloves to avoid skin irritation and odor transfer.
  3. Pre-wash. Drench your dog's coat with lukewarm water.
  4. Shampoo. Liberally apply skunk shampoo, covering from head to tail, especially the undersides and between the toes.
  5. Deep clean. Massage the shampoo in, ensuring it reaches and breaks down the skunk oils.
  6. Let the shampoo sit and wait. Allow the shampoo to sit for 5 to 10 minutes for maximum odor neutralization.
  7. Rinse shampoo. Use lukewarm water to rinse out all shampoo thoroughly.
  8. Double up. If the odor persists, repeat the wash until it gets better
  9. Dry your dog. Pat your dog dry and, if possible, let them air dry in the sun to tackle any residual smell.

If the smell persists, Barkbus can come to the rescue with de-skunking services. We specialize in removing odor from skunked pets, so you don't have to stress about having a smelly pup.

Best Skunk Shampoo for Dogs

If you're looking for a top-rated dog skunk shampoo, here are our top picks:

  • Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Control. This skunk shampoo for dogs is expertly formulated to neutralize challenging skunk odors, replacing them with a calming lavender aroma. It’s also a paraben-free and dye-free pH-balanced solution, designed to ensure your pet doesn't retain that dreaded wet dog smell.
  • Bodhi Dog Skunk Shampoo. This shampoo treatment offers an instant solution to neutralize and eradicate tough skunk odors from dogs. It uses a unique blend of essential oils and mild detergents that are perfect for pets with sensitive skin.
  • Petpost Skunk Odor Eliminator. This skunk odor remover for dogs uses a patented odor-locking technology that doesn't just mask but permanently eliminates bad odors. It uses a natural safflower oil formula without any harsh chemicals, promising rapid and effective results.

Other De-Skunking Solutions and Treatments

If you don't have access to any dog skunk shampoo, there are other solutions you can try as well, including some home remedies.

Homemade Remedies

If you find yourself without commercial skunk odor removers when your pet has an unexpected encounter, fear not. There are effective homemade solutions that you can whip up with common household ingredients to tackle that pungent smell. Here are the ingredients to one of the most popular homemade solutions for getting rid of skunk smell on dogs:

  • 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide. Acts as an oxidizing agent, breaking down the oils in the skunk spray.
  • ¼ cup of baking soda. Helps neutralize odors and acts as a gentle abrasive, aiding in the removal of the skunk spray from the fur.
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of dish soap. This breaks down the oils in the spray, making it easier to wash out.

Here’s a step-by-step process of how to apply the solution above:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl or bucket. Remember, this mixture can be reactive, so avoid placing a lid on it.
  2. Wet your pet's coat thoroughly.
  3. Apply the mixture generously to your dog’s fur, ensuring all areas are covered.
  4. Massage it in and let it sit for five minutes. (Avoid letting the mixture sit for too long, as peroxide can bleach fur.)
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water.
  6. Repeat if necessary.

Two other common household remedies include tomato juice or apple cider vinegar, but here are some things to keep in mind for each of them:

  • Tomato Juice. While popularly believed to work, tomato juice can often just mask the odor rather than eliminate it. If you use it, make sure to follow up with a proper bath.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix two parts of water with one part of apple cider vinegar and spray or rub it onto your pet’s fur. It can help neutralize the smell. Rinse after letting it sit for 5 minutes.

No matter what you decide, you should always avoid getting any home remedy in your pet's eyes, ears, or mouth. If the skunk spray is near these areas, use a cloth dipped in the solution to carefully clean around them. Additionally, it’s important to check your dog's skin for redness or irritation after applying homemade remedies. If you notice any adverse reactions, rinse the area immediately and consult a veterinarian.

Odor Removal Products

Alternatively, here are over-the-counter products that can help you with skunk odor removal for dogs:

  • Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover. This skunk odor remover for dogs effectively neutralizes skunk odors by breaking down the oils they release, rather than merely masking them. It's a fast-acting solution that freshens with a citrus scent and is safe for both pets and households when used appropriately.
  • Tough Stuff Deodorizing Dog Spray. This deodorizing spray contains over 70 essential oils to neutralize even the toughest odors like skunk spray, all while leaving a pleasant fresh scent behind. It's potent against smells yet gentle on pets and water-safe belongings.
  • Thornell Skunk-Off Liquid Premise Spray. Need versatile skunk spray removal for dogs? This spray is designed to tackle persistent skunk odors both indoors and outdoors. Made with a non-enzyme, non-toxic formula, it eradicates foul odors at the source, for a refreshed environment without harming pets or furniture.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Skunk Encounters

Prevention is better than cure! Fortunately, there are measures you can take to decrease the chances of your pet having an unpleasant encounter with a skunk. 

  • Create barriers in the yard. Fences can deter skunks from entering your property. If they don't have access, they can't spray your dog.
  • Supervise dusk and dawn outings. These are prime times for skunks to be active. Being vigilant during these hours reduces the chances of a surprise encounter.
  • Use a leash during walks. Leashing in areas known for high skunk activity allows you to have control over where your dog goes, preventing them from accidentally cornering a skunk.
  • Keep an eye on skunk hiding spots. Common locations where skunks might spray your dog include underneath porches, near garbage bins, or in densely vegetated areas where they might be hiding or foraging.

Barkbus Offers De-Skunking Treatments

Dog sprayed by a skunk? Not to worry! Barkbus offers specialized de-skunking treatments just for dogs. We understand the urgency of the situation and aim to get your pup feeling and smelling like themselves again in no time. Appointments are subject to availability, so it's crucial to act quickly. Please contact the Barkbus Concierge Team immediately to request an appointment and ensure your dog gets the care they deserve as soon as possible. Don't let your dog suffer the stink — the Barkbus team is ready to come to the rescue!


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