If you’ve ever let your unsuspecting dog outside at dawn or dusk, only to have them come running hell bent back to the front door, chances are your dog has been skunked.

Although your first instinct may be to let your dog inside to wash him off, don’t! Skunk spray oil lingers in the air until his coat is clean. What’s more, the oil can get all over your couch, carpet, and worse, you – so keeping your dog outside while you help him get cleaned up is imperative. 

Here are our best tips for what to do if your dog encounters a skunk.

What Is Skunk Spray?

First things first. Skunks are cute little animals who scavenge and usually come out around dusk and dawn to find food. Their only means of defense is the noxious smelling spray that they produce and can release when needed. 

The spray is produced by the anal glands, and contains sulfurous chemicals called thiols. Since skunks can spray this liquid up to 15 feet, it’s not uncommon for dogs to get sprayed directly in the face. 

Steps to Take If Your Dog Gets Skunked

If your dog gets skunked, he or she will likely be miserable. Here are the steps to follow to help.

Check your dog’s eyes – If they appear red or irritated, rinse them immediately with cool water or an eye wash approved for dogs. Call us if you are concerned. 

Offer your dog a drink of water – Though it won’t remove any of the skunk oil, a drink of fresh water may help your dog feel better before you tackle the real problem. 

Bath time – It’s important to remove the skunk oil from your dog’s coat as quickly as possible. Bath time in this instance should be outdoors or in a garage or a barn – again, we don’t recommend your house! Although tomato juice used to be the recommended bath remedy, today there are a number of skunk washes on the market as well as a simple DIY mixture you can make up yourself. One caveat: don’t mix up a batch and store it, as the mixture can explode if kept in a closed container! 

DIY Skunk Spray Recipe:

  • 1 quart of 3% Hydrogen peroxide solution
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Dawn dishwashing soap

Mix all ingredients together, and work the solution into your dog’s coat while wearing rubber gloves. Don’t leave the solution on your dog’s skin or coat for too long, since it may bleach his fur if left on too long. 

Be very careful around your dog’s face and eyes, as the solution can irritate sensitive areas. 

Rinse completely and repeat if necessary. 

Next, shampoo your dog with pet shampoo to clean any residual oil and leave your dog smelling clean. Towel dry your dog gently paying special attention to his face.

Lastly, wash your own clothes! 

Prevention – Your Best Medicine?

Like many things in health and well being, prevention may be your best bet when dealing with skunks and your dog. A leash walk or nightly run may well be worth the time and effort, instead of letting your dog run out and spending the time to clean up the skunky smell. 

Still, sometimes you can’t prevent your dog from being skunked. If you live in an area where skunks are common, we recommend keeping the essentials for the de-skunking on hand. 

If you have any questions about your dog being skunked or your dog’s health in general, please reach out to your team at The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital.