September 09, 2020 Dogs One Health Pets and Family

How to Get the Skunk Smell Off Your Dog

A dog looks unhappy while getting a bath

How to Get the Skunk Smell Off Your Dog

Last week, one of the callers to my radio show, “Ask the Vet” on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109, asked how to get the skunk spray smell off their dog. There are a number of homemade and commercial remedies of varying effectiveness, as well as other safety risks you should be aware of after a skunk encounter. I get into all of this below.

Homemade De-skunking Shampoo

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap (some internet versions of the recipe call for 2 tablespoons of liquid soap)

Mix the ingredients in a large container because the peroxide and baking soda will bubble up. Use the solution to wash your dog, followed by a thorough rinse with tap water. At least one of my clients will attest to the success of this solution on her skunked dog.

Commercial De-skunk Preparations

You can find multiple de-skunking products on the internet. The only one I have personal experience with is Skunk-Off. I used the “premise spray” in my basement in an area the cat seemed to prefer over his litterbox. It cleared up the stinky urine smell right away. Skunk-Off also has a shampoo and a spray bottle for spot deodorizing of your dog’s coat.

Tomato Juice for Skunk Smell

This home remedy has been around for as long as I can remember, but it does not remove the skunk smell!  Tomato juice causes olfactory exhaustion – meaning the tomato smell tricks your nose into smelling tomatoes instead smelling skunk. After a while, the skunk smell comes wafting back.

Dog Bath Safety

As we detailed in a previous blog post, you should make sure your bathing your dog safely at home. Getting shampoo in the eyes is very irritating for pets and can cause painful corneal ulcers. To protect the eyes during a bath, squeeze about ¼ inch of sterile ophthalmic petrolatum into each eye. This medication is available over the counter at your neighborhood drugstore. Avoid washing your pet’s face with any de-skunking product – clean the face with a wet washcloth instead.

Skunk Dangers Beyond the Smell

There are more reasons than the olfactory nuisance for keeping your dog away from skunks. Skunks serve as the rabies virus reservoir in the central United States, from Minnesota to Texas. Whenever your dog tangles with a skunk, rabies exposure is possible.

Anemia is another risk associated with being skunked. Skunk musk contains compounds that damage or oxidize the hemoglobin in red blood cells. This chemical reaction causes the body to remove the damaged red blood cells from circulation, leading to anemia.

Any Other Pet Questions?

If you have pet questions that need answers, call and leave a voicemail on the “Ask the Vet” line: 866-993-8267. Then, tune in on Saturdays at 9am and Sundays at 8pm to hear the answer to your question.


UPDATE [9/15/20]: A reader of the AMC blog has suggested a skunked dog be bathed with a scent removal soap used by hunters to remove their own scent before hunting. The reader indicated the soap can be purchased at a hunting supply store and worked well on her German shepherd dog.  I do not have any experience with this product, but I want to remind dog owners to keep all soap way from their dog’s eyes.

Tags: de-skunk, dog bath safety, dog bathing, dog shampoo, dogs, one health, skunk smell, skunks,

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