How to De-Skunk Your Dog

siberian husky puppy getting a bath

Dogs can get into some smelly things and interactions with skunks can leave them smelling horrendous. If you live in an area with skunks, you might dread the day your dog gets sprayed and comes home reeking. When it comes to how to de-skunk your dog, there are some solutions that work and some that don’t. Here’s what you need to know:

The De-Skunking Solution That Works

This de-skunking mixture works the best to get rid of the smell. If the smell is really bad, you may need to run through the process more than once. But, you should be able to get your dog back to a normal, or at least more tolerable smell.

1. Check Your Dog’s Eyes

First things first, check your dog’s eyes to make sure they are not irritated. If they are, use cool, clean water to flush them immediately. This should help alleviate any eye irritation.

If you have veterinary eyewash products that are safe for dogs on hand, then you can use it as well. If you live in an area where your dog has a high chance of encountering a skunk, it’s not a bad idea to include these eyewash products in your dog first aid kit.

2. De-Skunking Shampoo

If you have a vet-approved de-skunking shampoo on hand, you can use that. If not, you can make your own de-skunking shampoo with some household ingredients. You’ll have to make up this mixture right before you use it, so it’s probably best to keep your dog outside while you do; it’s better to bathe them outdoors if they’ve been sprayed anyway to avoid getting that smell inside the house. If you don’t have an area outside to clean them, a garage can be a good option.

For this homemade skunk odor removal, you will need:

  • 1 Quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • ¼ Cup of Baking Soda
  • 1-2 Drops of Liquid Dish Soap (Optional)
  • 2-3 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil (Optional)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Bucket

Once you have all the supplies you need, station or secure your dog to prep them for the upcoming bath. Then, mix the dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda together.

3. Wash Your Dog With De-Skunking Shampoo

Massage this mix and lather into your dog’s coat until they are thoroughly covered and make sure you avoid their face, eyes, and any other mucus membranes. Let the mixture sit on their coat for five minutes before thoroughly rinsing them.

4. Wash Again With Regular Dog Shampoo and Dry

After rinsing, shampoo your dog using their regular dog shampoo and rinse thoroughly. One application is usually enough, but it may need to be repeated if they have been heavily sprayed.

Once your dog is clean and smelling much better, towel dry them. Then, either follow up with a hairdryer on low or let them air dry inside in a sunny room.

5. Get Rid of any Leftover Mixture

As a note, it is important that you do not save any of the de-skunking mixture you have made. You need to make it fresh for the deodorizing effect, but you cannot store any of it for use later. Letting it sit in storage and continue to react can become dangerous as it may explode in the container.

6. Clean Your Clothes and Yourself

After your dog is de-skunked and you’ve cleaned up, the last step is to clean the clothes you wore during the de-skunking with detergent and baking soda. You’ll want to let them air dry since the heat of a dryer can “seal” the smell into clothes. Then, shower yourself to make sure none of the stink was transferred to you.

3 De-Skunking Solutions That Don’t Work

These are a few de-skunking solutions that don’t tend to work. If your dog has gotten sprayed, it’s generally best to avoid them and avoid wasting your time.

1. Leaving Your Dog Outside

Another common de-skunking solution is to leave your dog outside to let them “air out”. You do want to keep them outside while you de-skunk them, but you do not want to leave them out there. Although this may help keep the skunk smell out of your house, it’s not a good solution. Not only does it take too long for the smell to leave your dog, but it’s also not good for your dog.

Your dog doesn’t want to be away from you and shouldn’t be left outside for long periods of time. This can quickly become dangerous if it’s too hot or cold outside for your dog. Plus, it often leaves them exposed to the weather. On top of that, it doesn’t de-skunk them fast enough. It’s better to avoid this as well and opt for a de-skunking solution that works quickly.

2. Tomato Bath

Although a tomato bath is a classic, traditional method for de-skunking stinky dogs, it usually doesn’t work. While a tomato bath may help the smell at first in mild cases, it won’t last long and can quickly become expensive as you repeat it over and over. It’s best to avoid this and go with a de-skunking solution that works better.

3. Diluted Vinegar

Although a diluted vinegar bath can work in mild cases if you need to de-skunk your dog, it generally doesn’t get rid of that skunk spray smell if your dog was hit directly or in the face. But, if you don’t have a de-skunking shampoo or ingredients to make your own, 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar may be able to lessen the stink a little until you get your hands on a better de-skunking solution. It tends to work better at covering the smell and removing a little of it than other options.

Hopefully, you never have to de-skunk your dog. But, if your dog does get sprayed, using one of the de-skunking solutions available can help you get rid of the nasty smell. After getting rid of the smell, check your dog for fleas, ticks, or other pests that may have jumped to your dog. This is less of a worry if you’ve been keeping up with flea and tick prevention, but it also gives you the opportunity to check for any scratches or bites. If you find any, it’s not a bad idea to visit the vet for a more thorough checkup.