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SouthCare Animal Medical Center

Getting Skunk spray off your pets

woman giving dog a bath

How do we get rid of this terrible odor? There’s a few options for you and Max. First things first. Keep Max out of the house. If Max took a direct hit to his eyes they will be quite irritated, watery and red. He may want to rub his face all over the furniture and carpets to get the spray off. Gently rinse out his eyes with cool water or saline eyewash/contact lens solution. Once his eyes are flushed now you can move on to the bathing phase.

Tomato juice is one that some may swear by. However, unless you are planning on buying a lifetime supply of tomato juice, it might not be right for your family. The acidity of the tomato juice is purported to cut through the skunk oil. While wearing gloves, get Max thoroughly saturated in the juice and let it sit for 15 minutes. Make sure to avoid his eyes! Rinse Max off and repeat until the smell has dissipated. This may take 3 or more washes before you notice a difference. The skunk smell may be reduced but you’ll likely be able to catch a whiff of it. Follow up with a nice smelling pet-safe shampoo to mask the residual odor. With this method if Max was a white dog to start with, he will be a lovely shade of orange by the end.

Our preferred method which can be more effective is a mixture of common household items. Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon of a mild dish detergent and ¼ cup of baking soda. Make sure that your hydrogen peroxide is not stronger than 3% otherwise, it may irritate the skin. While wearing gloves lather up Max with the mixture and rinse. Don’t leave it on too long, the hydrogen peroxide could bleach his fur. As always, avoid the eye area! Repeat this again and follow up with a pet-safe shampoo. Don’t store this mixture in a closed container – it can explode.

There are some over-the-counter skunk odor removal products available for purchase. However the effectiveness of each may vary depending on the product. No matter the method chosen to de-skunk your furry family member you will still smell a faint skunk odor. This usually is due to the pet getting sprayed in the face. The face can be difficult to clean while keeping the solution out of the eyes. After the final wash dry off your pet very well and try to keep him dry for a few days after. If Max gets wet again, it could reactivate the skunk oils making him one stinky pooch again.

Great news! Now you can let Max back in the house again since he’s smelling better than he did before! How do you avoid this “adventure” in the future? Skunks are nocturnal and most active at dusk and dawn. Keeping Max indoors during these times could reduce the chance of an encounter. If you do need to walk your pet after dark, stay off country roads if possible and walk in well lit areas. Skunks have poor eyesight and hearing which means it can be pretty easy to sneak up on one.  Don’t allow your pet (or kids) to corner or agitate a skunk – keeping distance between everyone is the key to avoiding sprays.

Respect the skunk, and the skunk will respect you!