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How to Quickly Get Skunk Smell off Your Dog (7 Simple Steps)

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

skunk and Aussie shepherd puppy

We’d like to think that skunks spraying dogs isn’t as common in real life as it is in the movies. However, dogs love to chase things and they don’t know the particular consequences of chasing skunks. This need to chase, combined with the oversight of not understanding skunks, can lead to your dog getting sprayed, especially if you live in a forested area.

Of course, we can’t blame skunks for this behavior. They’re just protecting themselves, after all. Still, it leaves us with a rather difficult problem to solve – getting the skunk smell off our dog. Not only does the stench bother our canine, but it’ll also bother us. There is no way a skunk-smelling dog can hang out inside or even near the backdoor.

There are several ways to remove the skunk smell from your pup. Some of these methods work better than others, though. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best solutions.

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The 7 Steps to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Dogs

We’ve all heard of bathing our dog in tomato juice to remove the stench. However, this isn’t necessary nor is it highly effective. You can remove the skunk smell using basic household items like baking soda and dishwashing detergent.

Image: Pikist

Before we jump into the step-by-step instructions, let’s look at what you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1-2 teaspoons of mild dishwashing detergent (Dawn works great)
  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide

1. Don’t Take Your Pooch Inside

Your first instinct may be to rush your pup to the bath. However, the oils from the skunk spray will transfer to everything they touch, including your bath, hands, clothes, etc. You want to minimize contact as much as possible.

Instead, you want to take your pup to a safe, outdoor space. Don’t let them roam around much, even outdoors. Use a leash to create a tie out if you don’t already have one. You want them as confined as possible while remaining outside.

2. Check Your Dog

Safety first. Now that your pup is somewhere safe, you should look them over for injuries. Gloves are a must for this step since you don’t want to rub your hands all in their skunky fur. If they were sprayed in the face, you’d want to rinse some clean water over their eyes. The oils can injure their eyes if not removed quickly.

The rinsing can be difficult, especially if you have a stinky dog fighting you. Get a second pair of hands to help you if necessary.

You’ll also want to check for injuries. Since your dog got close enough to the skunk to be sprayed, it is possible that they also got in a fight. Skunks can carry diseases, which can be transferred through bites. It is essential to check your dog thoroughly for possible injuries. If there are any, follow up with your vet.

3. Create the DIY Skunk Remover

Most people do not have skunk odor removers sitting around their house. You’ll probably need to make a DIY option. Luckily, this isn’t too difficult. You’ll need the ingredients we’ve listed above, including baking soda, dishwashing detergent, and hydrogen peroxide. Mix them in a bucket, and then apply it to your dog.

You can use a smaller cup and pour it over your canine, or you can apply it with a washcloth. Either way, be sure to get everywhere.

4. Wait

Let the solution stay on your canine for about 10-20 minutes. Keep them confined during this time, but do not let them lick the solution off. Now may be a good time to distract them with a bone or treat. If any long-lasting chews are lying around, it is time to pull them out.

5. Rinse

Grab a hose or another bucket and rinse your canine off. You’ll want to remove all of the solutions, as it can irritate your pet’s skin if you leave it on for too long.

garden hose in grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

6. Repeat as Necessary

You may need to repeat the process if the smell is not gone. In some cases, it may only take one try before the smell is gone. However, in other cases, you’ll want to do it two or even three times to get rid of the stench completely.

7. Buy a Skunk Odor Remover

If your dog got sprayed once, it could happen again. Save yourself some work next time and purchase a commercial soap that removes the skunk smell. There are quite a few on the market, though we like the Natural Chemistry Skunks Etc. Odor Remover the best.

This formula is specifically formulated for removing skunk odors. You can use it on pets, as well as on carpet and upholstery. It is made with biodegradable ingredients, which is one reason we recommend it.

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An Alternative: Visit the Groomer

If you absolutely cannot stand the smell or don’t have the necessary ingredients available to you, a visit to the groomer might be in order. Most know how to remove the skunk smell and may even be able to make you an emergency appointment. Traveling groomers are especially helpful in this situation, as you won’t have to put your pup into your car.

Happy dog in a towel sitting at the groomer table after bath
Image Credit: Kasefoto, Shutterstock


Is skunk spray dangerous to dogs?

Skunk spray is not pleasant – there is no doubt about that. Luckily, it is usually pretty harmless. It makes your canine stink, but that’s about it. However, in some cases, it can be a severe problem for some canines.

Some dogs are allergic to skunk spray. In these situations, the spray can make the dog anemic. This can be potentially serious, as it will affect your dog’s ability to carry oxygen and other nutrients to the organs that need them.

Skunk spray can also become dangerous if it gets in your dog’s eyes. It won’t hurt if the oils stay in your pet’s eyes for a short period, but it can hurt if it stays there for a longer time. That’s why we recommend flushing their eyes as soon as they are in a safe area.

How do you get skunk smell off a dog without peroxide?

If you don’t have peroxide lying around your house, you can use vinegar instead. The only problem with this is that your dog will smell like vinegar. While the scent of vinegar is better than that of a skunk’s, it isn’t always the best alternative.

If you use vinegar, we recommend giving them a regular bath afterward to help remove the vinegar smell.

Skunk and chihuahua
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

How long does it take for skunk smell to wear off a dog?

If you don’t do anything to help the process along, the odor can last for up to 3 weeks. This is far longer than you can keep your dog quarantined. For this reason, we seriously recommend removing it using the method we outlined in this article.

Does tomato juice remove the skunk smell?

Not really. This is an old myth. Tomato juice doesn’t do an excellent job of removing the skunk smell. It only smells so strongly that it fatigues your senses, preventing you from really smelling anything. However, everyone else will still be able to smell the skunk smell.

Featured Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

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