What To Do if Your Dog Gets Sprayed By a Skunk

skunk lurking in forest

You know getting sprayed by a skunk isn’t as funny as television might make it seem. Skunks will generally try and stay away from any kind of trouble. As smaller and practically blind animals, skunks don’t have a lot aside from their spray to protect themselves. If you do come across a skunk, back away slowly and don’t panic. Skunks don’t seek to fight any predators that come about. It’s a little harder to get your dog to comply and just “back away slowly.” Dogs will get a little too excited and end up getting sprayed. In this article, we’ll show you how to prevent skunks and how to get rid of the smell if you do get sprayed. 

Preventing Skunk Sprays

A skunk’s secret weapon is the oily, sulphuric compounds their spray. A Skunk’s anal glands create the spray that can shoot up to 15 feet. Most skunks will let you know they’re about to attack by:

  • Stomping front paws
  • Making a forward charge 
  • Hissing
  • Raising or twisting their tail
  • Showing off their hindquarters
  • And in some cases, doing a type of “dance” on their front paws

It’s especially important to prevent skunks from spraying you or your dog, as getting rid of the smell is incredibly difficult. Some skunk victims have even become temporarily blinded from the spray, or have had severe allergic reactions to the spray. The first step in getting rid of skunk spray is by preventing it. 

The best way to prevent skunks from spraying you, your dog, or your home is by keeping them out of your property. Skunks are pretty shy and will only wander close to humans if they’re looking for food. So if you spot a skunk scurrying in your backyard, get rid of all your food sources such as:

  • Sealing all your compost and garbage bins
  • Removing bird feeders in the winter
  • Keeping garden fountains and bird baths clean
  • Managing vegetable gardens and fruit trees
  • Ensuring your property isn’t infested with mice or other pests

Skunks feed on small pests and mice. So if you find you’re getting frequent visits from the skunks in your neighborhood, you may actually have a larger pest problem at bay. 

Getting Rid of Smells on Your Dog

Before you bathe your dog, check their eyes to make sure they’re not red or irritated. If you notice some irritation, flush them immediately with cool water. You can also buy eyewash products from your vet if you often get visits from skunks. 

If you or your dog does get sprayed by a skunk, do not go into your home. The oil transfers easily into fabric and carpeting, so it’s best to not unintentionally skunk objects in your home by going inside. Keep your dog outside or in your garage until you can properly bathe them.  

You’ve probably heard of the bathing tomato juice trick to get rid of skunk smells. It makes sense that the acidic tomato would break down some of the chemicals in skunk spray. Although tomato juice and paste are viable options, it might cost quite a bit to get enough to fully bathe you and your dog. This method also has very limited success. The reason why the spray stays for so long is actually that the oil components need to break down further. For this, you’re going to need an acid a little stronger than tomato juice. 

Next, you want to remove the oil from your dog’s coat. To do that, mix together:

  • 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide (make sure it’s no higher than 3 percent)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap

After you’ve made your mixture, get some rubber gloves and start rubbing the mixture into your dog’s coat. The baking soda will break down the oil, and the hydrogen peroxide will neutralize the chemicals in the spray.   

Continue to bathe your dog with this mixture and water. It may take a few washes for the smell to completely cease. Do not store the mixture, as it can explode in a closed container. If you still find that your dog still has a bit of smell, or are worried about a future attack, there are specially formulated skunk shampoos on Amazon.  

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