Cleaning a Dog Sprayed By a Skunk

If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, don't reach for the tomato juice. There are more effective-and less messy-solutions to this formidable dog stink problem.

Before You Try to Fix the Dog Stink

First, put on rubber gloves and old clothes. Skunk oil is potent and long lasting and its removal from your dog requires close contact with a very bad smell. Dress accordingly.

Note: The faster you tackle the dog skunk problem the better. The longer the oils sit on your dog's fur and skin, the more difficult it will be to remove. If you ignore a heavy dose of skunk spray, your dog may smell for months.

Often, dogs get sprayed in face during a skunk encounter. This can cause mouth and throat inflammation, eye irritation and even temporary blindness. Rinse your dog's face with plenty of plain water, gently rubbing the eyes and mouth with a rag. Repeat several times to remove as much of the oil as possible. If available, flush your dog's eyes with sterile saline solution (plain contact lens solution will work) to soothe and cleanse the eye.

To prevent spreading the oils all over your dog, try to determine where on the body the spray is concentrated. If you can't tell, that's okay. Just wet your dog, wash thoroughly and then use a de-skunking preparation.

There are several commercial de-skunking products available in pet supply stores. If you have a product on hand, use it according to label directions. Alternatively, you can make a homemade de-skunking treatment.

The Best Recipe: Baking Soda, Peroxide and Dish Soap

  • Mix 1 quart hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 tsp. Dawn® liquid soap and 1 gallon of warm water.
  • Wet your dog thoroughly.
  • Work into the fur and leave the solution on for five to ten minutes and rinse.
  • Repeat if needed.
  • Do not store this mixture in a closed container.

Vinegar and Dish Soap

Sponge the affected area with distilled white vinegar then wash with diluted Dawn® dish soap. Do not get either product in your dog's eyes. Keep a bottle of equal parts vinegar and water on hand for odor touch-ups.

Apple Cider Vinegar Variation

  • Mix together 1 qt. hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 tsp. Dawn® dish detergent, 1 quart apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup powdered OxyClean® and 1 qt. warm water.
  • Mix in a bucket and sponge it onto your dog's fur, avoiding the eyes.
  • Leave this mixture on for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse.
  • This recipe may bleach dark fur.

Mouthwash Treatment

Pour Listerine® or its equivalent into a spray bottle and wet down your dog. Leave this on for at least five minutes then rinse.


If there is nothing else available, try mixing ¼ cup of toothpaste in 1 qt. of warm water. Mix and apply to your dog's fur. Let sit 5 minutes then rinse.

Caution: Skunks bites can transmit rabies. If a skunk has bitten your dog, contact your veterinarian at once. Tip: Reduce your yard's attractiveness to skunks by keeping garbage cans tightly covered. Skunks are also attracted to fallen fruit, nuts and birdseed and compost.

Skunks and dogs have a long and stinky history. You can take steps to protect your dog from an encounter, but be prepared-just in case.