A white and spotted dog being washed in a tub

Everyone can recognize the pungent and distinct odor of skunk spray, but having your pet show up freshly doused brings that special scent to a new level. Pets, especially dogs, have a natural playfulness and curiosity that lends them to encounters with wildlife in the yard and on the trail. If a skunk is the object of your pet’s interest, the results can be nasty.

If your pet has been skunked, don’t panic! Folk remedies, such as bathing your pet in tomato juice, may abound, but many have little to no effect and some can be dangerous for your pet. 

Let The Pet Experts help you with our strategies for cleaning up your pet, and saving your sanity if your pet has been skunked.

What Exactly is Skunk Juice, Anyway?

The odiferous fluid is produced near the skunk’s anal glands to be used as a defense against predators. Sulfurous compounds called thiols are responsible for the foul smell.

Skunks can spray a stream of fluid directly at a predator up to 15 feet away. They can also blast a cloud of spray to cover a wider area.

What To Do If Your Pet Has Been Skunked

The worst has happened – your pet has been skunked. The first step is to remain calm! Take a deep breath (preferably far away from your pet), put on some protective gloves to protect your skin, and get to work.

  1. Unless you feel like replacing your carpets and furniture, contain your pet in the yard, garage, or bathroom while you clean them up.
  2. Check your pet for injuries! Skunks can carry rabies, so if you notice any bites, cuts, or scratches on your pet give us a call.
  3. Using paper towels, soak up as much of the skunk oil as possible. If your pet has been sprayed in the face, flush the eyes with a saline eye wash solution and use a cotton ball or pad to wipe out the nostrils.
  4. In an open container mix a solution of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1-2 teaspoons Dawn or other degreasing dish soap. Never use a closed container as pressure can build up over time, causing an explosion. 
  5. Apply the mixture anywhere your pet has been sprayed except for the face and eyes. Let it sit on the fur for at least 5 minutes. Poor any leftover mixture down the drain. 
  6. Rinse off the solution and bathe your pet with their regular pet shampoo, and dry thoroughly with towels.
  7. Wash any towels or clothing that came into contact with skunk spray with apple cider vinegar and baking soda to aid in odor removal.

Preventing Future Encounters

Most pets will willingly avoid skunks once they’ve been sprayed, but there’s always the chance it can happen again. Deter skunks from entering your yard with fencing, and keep your dog from wandering off trail or investigating wildlife while out walking.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment for your pet, contact The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.