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How Do You Remove the Skunk Smell from Dogs?

Picture of a skunk

Nothing brings a leisurely walk to a halt quite like having your dog sprayed by a skunk. The smell left behind by a distinctive-looking creature is powerful and seems to intensify the longer it sits in your dog’s coat. Many owners panic, wondering what they can do to get rid of the smell; especially if they’ve tried frequent bathing with their best pet shampoo, and the smell still persists. Experts agree that the residue of skunk oil can sit in a dog’s coat for up to a year, and it is for this reason that immediate and correct treatment is so important. If your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, what can you do to get rid of the smell?

Safety First

When your dog is sprayed by a skunk, it is hard to know where to begin to try to remove the oil from his coat. Since skunk oil is particularly irritating to your dog’s eyes, that is the best place to focus your attention. Using cool water or saline solution, carefully flush your dog’s eyes of any skunk spray that may have found its way into the openings. When the eyes seem clear, you will also want to flush out the sensitive nasal passages and mouth to be sure these areas are also fully cleansed.

Addressing the Coat

Though saline solution or cool water are great tools for removing skunk oil from the face, it is going to take something more potent to eliminate the residue and smell from your dog’s coat and skin. Thankfully, there are several different approaches you can take to help you with this task.

It is important to note that skunk odor is extremely persistent, meaning you may need to apply treatments several times before the smell will be completely removed.

Here is our list of top solutions for removing the smell of skunk from your dog:

  • Tomato Juice

When it comes to removing skunk odors, tomato juice is one home remedy that is not just an old wives’ tale. Tomato juice must be combined with a generous application of your regular dog shampoo in order to be effective. Begin by wetting down your dog’s coat and massaging shampoo into his coat. Work the shampoo into a thick lather then apply a healthy amount of tomato juice completely throughout the hair. To allow time for the enzymes in the tomato juice to begin to neutralize the scent, you need to allow this mixture to sit on your dog’s coat for a period of 10 to 20 minutes. After the waiting period, rinse your dog thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo and tomato juice and repeat the process. Skunk smell is rarely removed after only one attempt of this solution, so you will need to be prepared to try this method again several times before you achieve the desired result.

Do be careful not to get any tomato juice in your dog’s eyes as it is acidic and can cause pain and injury to him. Be forewarned that if you have a light-colored dog, Fido may take on a distinctly orange hue for a few days as a result of the tomato juice skunk treatment. 

  • Commercial Pet Products Formulated to Remove Skunk Odor

Most veterinarians and high-quality pet retailers sell shampoos that have been specifically designed for dealing with the removal of skunk odors from the coats of family pets. For best results, you will want to remove as much of the oil from your dog’s coat as possible before applying the shampoo as it will make it far easier for the product to penetrate through the coat and to the skin. You can use an old towel to wipe out any liquid residue then rinse your dog with cool water prior to the shampooing process.

As with all products, you will need to be cautious to keep this shampoo out of your dog’s eyes. 

  • Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and Dish Soap

A common home remedy for removing stains and odors of all kinds, a mixture comprised of good-old fashioned hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap is an excellent concoction to aid in the battle against skunk odors.

To make the solution correctly, add 1 qt of hydrogen peroxide to a spray bottle that also contains ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 tsp of dish soap. Shake well to combine.

The first step in the process is to wash your dog using your regular pet shampoo. Be sure to use rubber gloves to keep your hands from becoming contaminated with the skunk oil.

Once you have removed as much of the skunk residue from the coat, you can then generously spray your dog with your hydrogen peroxide solution. Allow the solution to sit for up to a maximum of 20 minutes before rinsing and repeating. You may need to repeat this process up to four times to yield the desired response.

Care must be taken to keep this mixture out of your dog’s eyes. Experts also advise you to dispose of any remaining solution after treatment. Leaving it in the spray bottle could cause the product to explode. 

  • Products Designed to Support Feminine Hygiene

Believe it or not, the feminine hygiene product known as Massengill can help reduce skunk odor in your dog’s coat. Simply mix 2 ounces of the product with 1 gallon of water and pour it over your dog. Allow the mixture 15 minutes to work then rinse thoroughly. Follow this application with a bath with pet shampoo, and you should see a great reduction in the amount of odor.

  • Vanilla

Some people swear that when it comes to getting rid of foul odors, vanilla is the way to go. To try this method, mix together vanilla and water at a ratio of 1 part vanilla to 16 parts water. Generously spray your dog’s coat and allow the mixture to set for approximately 15-20 minutes. Rinse well then follow up with your regular pet shampoo.

Yes, an encounter with a skunk can leave you with quite a mess on your hands. Try one of the tips in our article to help you get Fido back to smelling like a rose!

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