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My Dog Was Skunked – What Do I Do?
If you’re reading these words, there’s a good chance your dog was just skunked. What to do now?
Though your instinct may be to throw your fists in the air and mumble a few choice words to an unfair God, there is a better way to handle the situation – and the stink!
Why Do Skunks Spray?
Every living thing on this planet has a defense system. Humans and many other creatures will either run away when there is danger or stay and fight the predator. Unless you’re a possum, then you lay there and play dead.
In the case of skunks, they’re small, not fast runners, and don’t have claws or sharp fangs to scare off predators. So they try to ward off unwanted attention by raising their tail and projecting a spray of stench at whatever is coming their way. In this case, your dog’s face.
Skunk spray is a thiol, an organic compound with sulfur (gross) as the main component. Their ability to spray is so powerful it can hit an object 10 feet away with complete accuracy, and the stench can be smelled a mile away.
Did the Skunk Make Contact?
While the smell is something out of a nightmare, skunk spray itself is harmless. If your dog gets skunked, it may sting your fur baby’s eyes if they get sprayed in the face. Check their eyes to see if they are red and irritated. If they are, call your vet (or an ER vet clinic if after hours) to see what they suggest. Your vet may recommend rinsing your pup’s eyes with cool water and simply monitoring them.
It should also be noted that while the spray itself poses no harm, some skunks will decide to attack the threat once they have incapacitated it by spraying. Check to see if your dog has any evidence of wounds. Skunks are common carriers of the rabies virus, which can easily be transmitted through a bite wound.
Skunks are usually active at night, so if your pup had a daytime encounter with one, there’s a chance they may have gotten into a scuffle with a rabid skunk. If you do see signs of a physical confrontation, you will need to take your fur baby to the vet for evaluation. If your dog has no wounds, they should be okay, though it is always a good idea to speak with your vet to see what they recommend.
How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell When Your Dog is Sprayed
So you’ve carefully examined your dog, and they have no wounds and seem fine, just very stinky. Here are the steps you can take to get rid of that awful skunk smell:
Step1. Bath Your Pet Outdoors if Possible
You may be used to washing your fur baby in the bathtub, but if your dog has been skunked, it’s best to wash them outside. Should you get even a little of the spray on your furniture or carpeting, good luck getting it out!
If you cannot bathe your pet outside, give your dog a good rub down with paper towels to soak up any spray that may be shaken off inside your home. Leave the towels outside, then bag and toss them later. Once in the house, open some windows to let the fresh air in and the stink out. If it’s cold outside and you have an air purifier, keep the windows closed and run the purifier instead.
Step 2. Make a Simple DIY Solution
Whatever you may have heard, do not simply pour tomato juice all over your skunked dog. There are better cleaning solutions. Save that tomato juice for Bloody Marys when this is all over!
The Mass Audubon suggests mixing 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide (3%), 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. Be sure to thoroughly coat your pup in this solution and work it in well, making sure to avoid their eyes, ears, and mouth.
Yes, the hydrogen peroxide will lighten your dog’s fur, so work quickly to get the solution evenly distributed and massaged in. Rinse your baby thoroughly.
There is no set rule on how many applications you may need. One application might do the trick if your pup was only lightly sprayed. If your dog was sprayed more heavily, you may have to repeat this process several times. Once the smell is gone, follow up with one good wash using your dog’s regular shampoo.
What do you do if you don’t have those three ingredients available? Well, if you have a Walmart near you that is open late or 24/7, you can grab what you need. If that isn’t an option, you can do what the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests, which is to mix some vinegar with water and give that a try. While that is not as effective, it will still help clean your dog and eliminate much of the smell.
Step 3. Clean Yourself and Any Belongings
Once your dog is bathed, you’ll also need to apply the same solution to yourself. If any of that smell got onto you, and how could it not have, it will linger. As for your clothing, the AKC recommends using your regular detergent with ½ cup of baking soda added to really remove the smell.
If the “skunking” happened on your property, and any of your patio furniture or belongings were also sprayed, the Mass Audubon recommends washing with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water, so long as it isn’t used on fabric.
Once you’ve completed these three steps, there is nothing else to do but sit back, drink those cocktails, and give your dog the stink eye for the rest of the evening. Check out our blog post on a dog’s bad breath.
Unexpected Vet Bills? Pet Insurance Can Help!
None of us expects our dog to be skunked. That’s the thing with being a pet parent. We can’t always predict what kind of trouble our fur babies may get into. Sometimes the trouble is merely annoying, but sometimes it is dangerous and even life-threatening. Can you handle the high vet bills should such a situation arise?
A pet insurance plan can reimburse you for up to 90% of those vet bills. This means you can always get your fur baby the help they need.
Skunk attacks stink, but expensive vet bills don’t need to. Get a free quote today.
- “Why Do Skunks Spray?” Retrieved from North American Nature: https://northamericannature.com/why-do-skunks-spray/
- “Skunks & Spraying”. Retrieved from Mass Audubon: https://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/mammals/skunks/skunks-spraying
- “What to Do When Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk”. Retrieved from AKC: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/what-to-do-when-your-dog-gets-sprayed-by-a-skunk/