If you have a curious dog, chances are at some point you'll have to deal with the aftermath of a skunk spray. Check out these top tips for dealing with a dog sprayed by skunk. My dog got sprayed by a skunk! What now?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for dogs to encounter skunks, either at the dog park, on their daily walk, or even in your own backyard. Skunks will spray when they feel threatened, and a curious dog coming to say hello is very threatening to a skunk.
Skunk odour is one of the most potent smells in the animal kingdom, and it can be very difficult to get rid of without the right dog grooming tips and tools.
In this blog post, we will provide tips and tricks for getting rid of skunk spray on dogs. We will also discuss why skunks spray animals in the first place.
What is Skunk Spray?
Skunk spray is a mixture of sulphur-containing chemicals, which is produced by two anal glands in skunks.
Because the secretion of skunks is an oily compound, it adheres well to any surface, especially fur and fabric, making it very difficult to remove.
Even more, unfortunately, skunk spray has some serious staying power. When the smelly oils are exposed to moisture, compounds called thiols are released that have an extremely unpleasant odour.
This is why the smell will not dissipate on its own, and may even smell worse and worse as you try to clean it.
Why Do Skunks Spray Other Animals?
Seeing that big white stripe scurry by is enough to make any human back off quickly, but your dog just sees a potential new friend or a snack. Dogs often get themselves sprayed by encroaching on a skunk's personal space, forcing them to act defensively.
In most cases, spraying is not the first step. When a skunk feels threatened, it will usually give a warning by hissing or stamping its feet. For a dog, this action is unlikely to deter them, and may even make them more curious about their new pal.
When that doesn't work, the skunk will turn around and spray the attacker with the stinky secretion from its anal glands.
In some cases, dogs are just unlucky and accidentally stumble across a skunk. This can spook the skunk and cause them to quickly turn and spray without warning if they feel they can’t retreat or defend themselves in any other way.
A skunk can spray up to 15 feet away, and it can even be smelled from a mile away. The odour can last for weeks!
Later on, we will talk about the best methods and products for getting rid of skunk smell quickly, but first, let’s talk about prevention.
How to Prevent Your Dog Getting Sprayed By Skunk
Wondering when your dog is most likely to encounter a skunk?
Dogs are most likely to encounter skunks in the spring and summer months. This is because, in the winter months, they are less active and rarely venture out of their nest. Skunks don’t hibernate, but they do burrow in dens to protect themselves from the cold.
Your dog is also more likely to encounter a skunk in the early morning or evening because skunks are nocturnal animals, so they are more active at night, dawn, or dusk. If you try to stick to dusk and dawn walks to avoid the scorching heat of summer, then know that you are increasing the chances of your dog encountering a skunk.
In populated areas, skunk selects their habitat for easy access to foods such as insects, rodents, fruits, and garbage.
The garden shed can be a perfect place for them, and that's where many dogs find these animals. You may also find them in parks near trash cans or picnic areas, and even in dog parks and fields where skunks may dig their dens and protect their young.
Like any wild animal, skunks are the most aggressive and reactive when trying to protect their offspring.
Kowing where and when you might encounter a skunk with your dog is just the first step in avoiding a skunk attack. Having the right tools and teaching your dog how to react around wildlife can help you protect your dog and your sense of smell from the noxious odour of skunk spray.
Here are 5 tips to help your dog avoid skunk encounters:
1. Time and Place
Early morning or evening walks may work best for your daily routine, but the darker it is, the more likely you will come across a scared skunk. Try to stick to daylight hours whenever possible.
When that’s not possible, then plan your walks and outdoor adventures in places with less skunk activity. City sidewalks, fenced dog parks, and areas with less shrubbery will be less conducive to skunks.
Make sure your dog is not alone outside at dawn and dusk, as skunks are most active at this time. When you let your dog out in the yard for a bathroom break, go out with them.
Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for your dog tracking a scent or trying to sniff around in hidden places that skunks could be hiding on your property.
2. Keep Your Dog on Leash
If your dog is prone to following his nose into troubling situations, then you may be better off keeping them on a leash. Skunk attacks often happen when dogs are roaming far from their humans.
Keeping them leashed will allow you to keep them from exploiting areas that they shouldn’t and you can remove them from the area quickly if you see any signs of wildlife activity.
3. Practice Good Recall
If you prefer the off-leash dog park or hiking with your dog off-leash, then you should make sure your dog knows his recall commands very well. You should be able to call your dog back to you no matter exciting their current activities are.
Recall takes practice, but with the right tips and routines, you can recall your dog to avoid encounters with wildlife, and hopefully never have your dog sprayed by a skunk again. Keep treats handy to reward your dog when he follows your vocal commands.
Learn how to teach your dog to come when called in Dog Recall Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Walk Off-Leash.
4. Get Your Dog a Bear Bell
When skunks are snuck up on, they are very likely to spray. Take away your dog’s element of surprise by getting him a bear bell. These loud bells will give any skunks in the area a heads up that your clueless pooch is getting near.
In most cases, if a skunk can get away discreetly, they will. They only use their spray when they don’t have another reasonable escape route. A bear bell will act as a warning alarm for skunks and give them the opportunity to scamper away before your dog finds them.
5. No Unwanted Guests
Avoid your dog getting sprayed in his own backyard by blocking off areas that skunks might like to dwell in. Underneath your porch or deck, in or behind sheds, and in overgrown shrubs and gardens.
Rocks, patio stones, or fencing can all be used to keep skunks out. You can also use fencing to block of garbage and recycling bins that might attract wildlife. Don’t leave out food or trash that would provide food for a hungry skunk.
The less enticing your yard is, the less likely skunks are to hang around or try to set up shop there. If you have a dog door, keep it locked when not in use to prevent a skunk from finding a way in your house.
What To Do When Dog Gets Sprayed By Skunk?
If your dog does get sprayed by a skunk, your first instinct might be to panic. Your dog is probably freaking out, so how do you wrangle them? What if you are not at home? How do you get them home without your car getting covered in skunk oil?
The bad news is, that you will almost assuredly get some skunk oil on you. It’s unpleasant, we know, but you have to get ahold of your dog, and get them to an area where you can start to address the odour issue.
Before you freak out, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with basic skunk spray protocol for dogs:
Step 1. Check the Severity of the Situation
The first thing you need to do is check how bad the situation is. For dogs sprayed in the face and mouth by skunk, there is a good chance that he got skunk spray in his eyes, nose, or mouth.
In this case, rinse your dog's face with cool water for 15 minutes and call your veterinarian. Skunk spray is mostly harmless but can sometimes cause redness and various irritations. When ingested, your dog may feel nausea or digestive issues.
If your dog’s eyes were irritated by the spray, a dog eyewash can be used to flush the eyes and reduce discomfort quickly.
Skunks don’t often have to bite, as their spray usually deters animals from continuing pursuit, but some dogs are stubborn. Since skunks are common carriers of rabies, you may want to check your dog’s body. If you see any puncture wounds, call your vet right away.
If there are no serious issues, you can move on to the next steps.
Step 2. Stop Him From Licking
Dogs are as proficient groomers as cats, but they still instinctively groom if they feel they are extra dirty. After your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, he might try to clean himself by licking the saturated fur.
Use a towel to wrap your dog, not only preventing the skunk oils from transferring to you, but also to stop your dog from licking. Ingesting skunk oil can cause some problems, so do your best to prevent this.
Seasonal allergies in dogs or other issues that affect your dog's skin health may cause your dog to be especially sensitive to the irritating spray. Your dog may be extra eager to lick and clean themselves to try to soothe discomfort, so be sure to monitor your dog to prevent him from licking up the oil spray.
Step 3. Don't Let Your Dog in Your House
If possible, keep your dog outside. Skunk spray can be very difficult to remove from carpets, furniture, and clothing. It is best to avoid letting the smell in your house if you can.
If you must bring them inside, due to weather or access to water, then try to confine him to one room with easy-to-clean floors, like the bathroom or laundry room.
Step 4. Remove the Skunk Spray From your Dog's Coat
Do not bathe your dog immediately. This will only spread the skunk spray around and make the situation worse. First, you need to neutralize the skunk spray before you wash it off.
Skunk deodorizing sprays, like The Tough Stuff Skunk Deodorizer, can be sprayed directly on your pet’s coat, avoiding contact with eyes and mouth. For delicate areas, like the face, pray a soft cloth and use it to rub down your dog.
They can also be a helpful tool to have in the house or car too. In addition to deodorizing dog fur, The Tough Stuff also works on fabric, like carpet and clothing.
Homemade Skunk Spray Remover for Dogs
If you don’t have a store-bought deodorizing spray handy, you can make an easy homemade concoction to help reduce the nasty stink of skunk spray.
To make your skunk spray solution, you will need:
- One quart of hydrogen peroxide
- One-fourth cup of baking soda
- One teaspoon of dishwashing liquid
Mix all ingredients in a bucket and use it as soon as possible. Do not store the excess liquid, so only make what you’ll use right away. The above quantities are ideal for a larger dog, but you can easily halve the recipe for smaller breeds.
Be very careful not to get any in your dog's eyes, nose, or mouth. It would help if you had someone hold your dog while you pour the solution over his fur and massage it in.
After about five minutes, rinse your dog thoroughly with cool water. Do not leave the solution on the fur for a long time because it can lighten the colour. You may need to repeat this process a few times to get rid of all the skunk spray if your dog is very saturated.
If you don't have hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, you can also try using vinegar instead. The steps are the same; just use one-part vinegar to four parts water.
One of the most common skunk spray myths is that a dunk in tomato juice will get rid of skunk spray, but experience has shown that this method is much less effective, and often makes a pretty big mess.
Step 5. Give Your Dog a Bath
Once you have removed as much skunk spray as possible, you can give your dog a regular bath. Don't use human shampoo on your pup; it can be too harsh. Stick to Pet Shampoos only.
Wondering how to wash dogs that got sprayed by skunk? Fortunately, it's not much different than a regular bath. Just wet and lather. The thicker your dog's fur or the more saturated they are with skunk spray, the more you'll need to lather. Try the Furminator Bathing Brush to get right down the skin.
To make extra sure you get rid of the odour, try a skunk smell remover shampoo, like Skunked! Deodorizing Pet Shampoo. This can help to get rid of any leftover odour and is made from natural and gentle ingredients.
Follow up with The Tough Stuff Skunked Conditioner to moisturize the coat, reduce irritation, and leave your pet's coat soft and refreshed.
Step 6. Rinse and Dry Your Dog's Fur
After the bath, make sure you rinse your dog thoroughly. You don't want any shampoo or conditioner residue left on his coat.
Once you have rinsed your dog, dry him off with a towel or blow-dryer. Be careful to use the hairdryer on a low setting with no heat, as your dog may be sensitive to high temperatures. Pet Hair dryers are a better option as they don’t get as hot.
You may want to use a dog clipper for your really thick fur dog, as this will increase your chances of eliminating unwanted odour. This is a good option for breeds that need regular hair cuts anyways, like Poodles, Bouviers, and Shih Tzus.
Avoid clipping double-coated breeds without the guidance of a professional groomer or your vet. Some breeds, like huskies, are not meant to get trimmed and a clipping could damage the skin and coat.
Step 7. Clean Yourself Too
Don't forget that you probably have skunk spray on you as well. If you notice this, use the solution on yourself too.
Be sure to wash your clothes and take a shower. You may want to shampoo your hair more than once to get rid of the smell. A deodorizing spray can be used around your house, and you can even use a skunk removing laundry additive to clean towels, clothes, and even your dog’s fabric accessories, like leashes, harnesses, and collars.
After following these steps, your dog (and you) should be skunk-odour-free. The key is to act quickly and avoid letting the skunk spray linger on your dog's fur. With some patience and a little elbow grease, you will have your furry friend smelling fresh again in no time.
How to Treat a Dog Sprayed by Skunk in Mouth and Nose
If your dog is sprayed by skunk in the face, call your vet immediately! Skunk spray is not that poisonous but can cause a lot of problems. The results can be irritation, watering eyes, a runny nose, nausea, and vomiting. If you notice a dog sprayed by skunk foaming at the mouth, call your vet immediately.
Your veterinarian may want to see your dog right away. Otherwise, they will probably provide you with essential and accurate advice on what to do and what not to do.
Knowing how to treat a dog sprayed by skunk in eyes can quickly reduce discomfort. You should not use the hydrogen peroxide mixture on your dog's eyes. The best you can do is rinse his eyes with plenty of water. Try a dog eyewash, like Burt’s Bees Eye Wash for Dogs, to flush the eyes and reduce discomfort.
Use a cotton ball soaked in water or saline solution to clean the nose, and around the eyes and ears.
After that, give him plenty of water to drink and rinse his mouth out. Do this as often as necessary until the bad taste is gone.
Never punish your dog if he's been sprayed by a skunk. It's not his fault, and he probably doesn't even know what he did wrong. The best thing you can do is to stay calm and follow the steps above to get rid of the skunk odour.
Be Prepared for Skunk Attacks
We hope this guide was helpful and you managed to get rid of the skunk odour. Remember, the best way to deal with a skunk is to prevent the problem in the first place. So, take some preventive measures and hopefully, you'll never have to deal with this issue.
That being said, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, skunk encounters are going to happen. Knowing this terrible fact, it’s a good idea to have some tools on hand to prepare yourself for such an occurrence.
Here's a quick list of supplies you should keep on hand to help you deal with a skunk attack quickly and effectively:
- Towels - use them to wrap your dog to avoid spreading the skunk spray to your clothes or vehicle
- Gloves - protect yourself when you grab your dog as well as when you bathe them
- Car Seat Covers - if you are transporting your dog in a vehicle, a car seat cover may help reduce the lingering smell and make the car easier to clean after
- Bathing Brush - A massaging or grooming brush can help you scrub right down to the skin, even on long or thick-haired breeds
- Clean Water - water can be used to rinse vital areas like their face to provide some immediate relief
- Skunk Removers - Regular soaps just aren’t made to handle the pungent odour of a skunk's oils. A spray, shampoo, or treatment designed to neutralize skunk odour will work much better than traditional soap or dog shampoo.
If you have any tips or tricks on how to remove skunk spray from dogs, please share them with us in the comment section below.