SKUNK SMELL OFF DOGS: Removing the Skunk Smell from Your Dog

It’s one of a dog owner’s worst nightmares. You can hear Fido minding his own business outside when suddenly he starts to bark. Before you can investigate, you hear a “yipe.” And when you open the door, you are able to smell your dog long before you can see him. An encounter with a skunk is one of the most inconvenient bits of mischief your dog is ever likely to get into. On the one hand, you can consider yourself lucky that getting sprayed probably isn’t going to hurt your curious pup. On the other hand, however, getting rid of the smell can turn into an ordeal that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies.

Skunk Smell Off Dogs
Skunk Smell Off Dogs

Removing the skunk odor from your dog (and subsequently your entire house) can be a difficult business, but there seems to be one method that works better than all the others. Forget about the old wives’ tales involving vinegar and/or tomato juice—these products just cover up the stench—and instead, be thankful for a chemist named Paul Krebaum. In 1993, Krebaum developed a concoction of products that you probably have lying around the house and turned them into an effective method of removing skunk spray. Do your best to reproduce his discovery, and you may be able to save your family weeks of misery. Here’s how you can remove the skunk smell from your dog.

1. Before you do anything else, closely examine your pup for any signs of injury. Look for bites or scratches, and note if your dog has any redness in his eyes. If it looks like the skunk did anything more than spray, call your vet immediately.

2. Once you are sure that your dog is fine (though admittedly stinky), you will want to move quickly to wash off the spray. The longer it has a chance to set on Fido’s coat, the more difficult it will be to remove the stench. Prepare a bathing area either in a tub outside or in a well-ventilated area of your home, and get to work.

3. Make your solution by combining 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 or 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap (such as Dove or Palmolive, not dishwasher detergent). Mix all the ingredients together in a large plastic container (note: you should never put them in a closed bottle as the chemical reaction could cause the bottle to explode). If you have a large dog, you may need to add some water to the solution so that you have enough of it to cover his whole coat several times.

4. Immediately begin applying the mixture to your dog’s coat using a washcloth or a sponge. Rub the solution all over your pup’s entire body, making sure to massage it into his undercoat and all the way down to his skin. Avoid contact with Fido’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, as the solution could burn them.

5. Leave the solution in place for about five minutes before washing it off with a hose or the faucet (depending on where you are applying the treatment). If the stench continues to be very strong, you can repeat the entire process several times until the smell begins to fade away. Once you (and your pup) can breathe again without gagging, you can finally dry him off and reward his cooperation with a treat.

6. Don’t be alarmed if the solution lightens the color of Fido’s coat temporarily as a result of the hydrogen peroxide. As the fur grows out, his coloring will return to normal. About a week after the incident, you should apply a crème rinse to try to get your dog’s coat back to its natural splendor.

Once you have successfully removed the smell from your dog, you will probably need to treat your clothes as well as anything in your house that your pup rubbed up against after the skunking. You can use the same solution to wash the smell off your clothes (though the peroxide might have a bleaching effect on them as well). If the smell continues to pervade your home, the best way to get rid of it is to bring in as much outside air as possible. Open your windows, run your fans, and spray air deodorizers. Over time, the smell will fade, and the ordeal will be able to turn into a distant and (eventually) humorous memory.