How to De-Skunk Your Dog

Get rid of skunk stench easily using simple household products

A doggie-skunk run-in
A doggie-skunk run-in. Daniel J Cox/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

Has your dog been sprayed by a skunk? Even if you have never faced this problem, it's helpful to know how to handle it just in case. Your dog could be sprayed by a skunk anywhere from wooded to suburban settings.

You may have heard of using tomato juice or vinegar to neutralize the stench of skunk spray. However, these methods only cover up the odor; they don't get rid of it. Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover has been known to work, but it may be hard to find in a pinch. And if your dog was sprayed by a skunk, you need to act quickly to remove that stench.

Thankfully, you can banish the dreaded odor with a special mix of simple household products that won't break the bank. It's all thanks to Paul Krebaum, a chemist who developed the recipe in 1993. Skunk spray is very oily and contains sulfur, which causes the stench. This recipe creates a chemical reaction that breaks up the oils and neutralizes the odor. Krebaum's Skunk Remedy homepage can direct you to more information.

What to Do If a Skunk Sprays Your Dog 

Before attempting to remove the skunk odor, you must make sure your dog is not injured. As soon as you realize your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, put on some rubber or latex gloves and old clothes and look her over for bites or scratches. Check her eyes, too, for redness or discharge. If any injuries are suspected, you should contact your veterinarian before proceeding.

10 Items You'll Need to De-Skunk Your Dog

  • 1 quart (32 fluid ounces, or nearly 1 liter) hydrogen peroxide 3 percent (U.S.P); must be fresh
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NOT baking powder or washing powder)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid soap, such as Ivory Liquid Cleanser or Softsoap
  • 1 quart lukewarm water (only needed for very large dogs)
  • A clean plastic bucket, bowl, or another mixing container (do not cover)
  • Clean plastic utensils for mixing
  • Protective eye ointment or mineral oil for the dog's eyes
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • A protective apron and eye goggles, if possible
  • Plenty of paper towels and cloth towels

The Removal Process

  1. Time is of the essence here. The longer you wait to begin the process, the harder it will be to remove the stench. Get set up for bathing your dog outdoors or in an easy-to-clean area of your home, such as a laundry room or bathroom. If you're indoors, open a window to air out the area while you're working.
  2. Dab your dog's coat with dry paper towels in the sprayed areas first to absorb any excess oil on the coat.
  3. Apply a small strip of eye lubricant, such as Puralube, or 1 to 2 drops of mineral oil to your dog's eyes. This will help protect the eyes in case any of the solution splashes or drips in.
  4. Do not soak your dog with water prior to bathing. 
  5. In a plastic container, combine 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Add lukewarm water if needed for larger dogs. Mix ingredients well. A chemical reaction then occurs, and the solution will start to fizz. Use immediately. (Do not store this mixture.)
  6. Promptly begin cleansing the affected areas thoroughly, massaging the solution deep into your dog's coat to break up the oils from the skunk spray. You may wish to use a sponge or washcloth. Avoid getting the solution in your dog's eyes, ears, or mouth (or your own).
  1. Allow the solution to remain on your dog for at least five minutes, or longer if the strong odor persists. Keep your dog from licking any of this solution!
  2. Rinse your dog well with lukewarm water. Repeat steps 5-8 as necessary until the odor is gone.
  3. Dry your dog well and give her a treat.

Useful Tips

  1. NEVER place the solution in a closed container or spray bottle. The pressure will build up and the container could burst. This could cause serious injury to you and your dog.
  2. DO NOT use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or substitute baking soda with similar products. The altered chemical reaction could cause severe injury to you and your dog.
  3. Be certain to use fresh hydrogen peroxide because it becomes less concentrated over time. Sealed, in-date bottles work best. If you are unsure how old your hydrogen peroxide is (or whether it has expired), buy fresh bottles to be safe. old hydrogen peroxide will not create the proper chemical reaction and the solution will not be effective.
  4. The solution can also be used to remove skunk odor from clothing and other fabrics. However, it may have a mild bleaching effect on some materials. In addition, your dog's coat may become slightly lighter as a result of contact with the solution. If this happens, the effect should resolve itself over time. Don't worry, your black dog will not become a platinum blond.

    How to Keep Skunks Away From Your Dog

    To help your dog avoid future run-ins with skunks, try to prevent skunks from becoming attracted to your property. Do not leave food outside, including birdseed and fruit that has fallen from your trees. Make sure garbage bins and garbage can lids are secured. Placing mothballs and ammonia-soaked rags around your property might deter skunks from approaching, just make sure they are out of your dog's reach).

    It's important to supervise your dog when she is outdoors. Try to stop her from running into wooded areas unattended. It's best if she stays in a fenced-in area or on a leash when you are in areas where skunks might be found.

    Find more information about skunks from Project Wildlife.