Everyone, meet Zeus (the dog, not the skunk). Zeus is our 2.5 year old gentle giant. He loves snuggles, his siblings, romps in the woods… and trying to make friends with things that go bump in the night.
Technically, things that go bumping through “his” woods at night.
As a result, this past weekend, Zeus was sprayed by a skunk. It wasn’t the first time, and it likely won’t be the last (sigh). And I realized afterwards that I’d never written about this very common occurrence for dog parents.
Many of us have been there before – always at night, often just as you’re getting ready for bed. Help! My dog got sprayed by a skunk.
Today, I’m going to run though exactly what I did this weekend – and what I’ve done in the past – so you know what to do next time this happens. Read this blog, then save it – you never know when a skunk will strike next!
Is Skunk Spray Harmful to My Pet?
If, in the past, your dog got sprayed by a skunk, your first thought was probably, “Oh no, how will I get the smell out?” But it’s important to think about any concerns with the spray itself as well.
Skunk spray is a yellow oil. Chemically, it contains as many as seven different volatile compounds (compounds that readily become gas) that give it that very recognizable, highly pungent smell.
And those compounds can be harmful. Typically classified as an irritant, if skunk spray gets into your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth, you might notice a few different effects:
- red, swollen eyes
- itching/rubbing their face
- temporary blindness
In some rare cases, typically only with high exposure cases, skunk spray can even cause damage to red blood cells.
After a spraying, keep a close eye on your animal for the next few days.
Knowing all of this, if your dog gets sprayed, you want to act fast. Here’s what to do…
My Dog Got Sprayed by a Skunk
DO NOT GET YOUR PET WET.
We repeat, do not get your pet wet. That’s key! Skunk spray is an oil, and water seals the oil secretion into the hair follicle. That’s what causes the smell to stick around for weeks – even months. To neutralize the smell, you need to break down the oils so that they can be washed off the fur or skin.
Before you do anything, carefully wipe your dog’s face. You need to remove as much from their eyes/nose/mouth area as possible. Try to get in and around the ears too. Be gentle.
Then try to gently dab off any excess spray. Try not to rub it in, but instead pat your dog down.
Next, get a big bowl, some dish soap, and some baking soda.
In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. You might need more depending on how much your dog got sprayed, but that’s a good amount to start. That being said, if the area is large, double or triple the amounts from the get-go.
Mix these together to form a thick paste, then lather the paste onto the area that got sprayed, avoiding the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Don’t get any in her eyes or nose. Remember, leave the fur dry – don’t get it wet. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse and repeat if necessary. We recommend doing this either outside or in the tub, as globs of the paste will inevitably fall off during the wait.
If the spray got in your dog’s face (as was the case with Zeus), you can go in with a soft toothbrush and gently massage a small amount of the paste – making sure not to get any in the eyes, nose or mouth. Don’t use too much paste. Zeus is pretty good at sitting still, but if your dog is not, and this makes them anxious, skip this step.
No Tomato Juice?
You’ll notice there’s no tomato juice in this recipe… and that’s because it doesn’t work. Skip it.
You may have also heard that hydrogen peroxide can be added to the mix – but we avoid that as well. It can dry out the skin and cause irritation.
Will this get rid of the smell completely? No. You won’t have a dog smelling like roses right away, but the smell will be much, much better in a short period of time, and you won’t have used any chemicals to get the job done! You can also do a repeat of the process (minus the actual spraying, of course) in a few days if need be.
Zeus’s face still smells a little skunky, but he’s nowhere near what he was on the weekend – he wasn’t even bad once we’d finished with the deskunking paste. It’s actually really amazing how well it works.
Now, if you’re out before bed and “that” smell comes wafting your way, and you know your dog got sprayed by a skunk, you’ll be prepared.