Home Remedies for Dogs or Puppies Sprayed by Skunk

Massengill, Tomato Juice, and More

a skunk
Image Copr. Daniel J. Cox/The Image Bank/Getty Images

When you live in the country it's important to know how to remove skunk smell from dogs sprayed by skunks. Curious pets allowed outdoors unsupervised in rural areas may stick their noses where they don't belong, and end up on the receiving end of a skunk. Skunks do turn up in more urban settings and can be attracted to pet food left outside or even sneak inside through pet doors.

Hunting dogs are the most common victims when they roam the fields and forests following their noses. A direct hit in the face with a skunk’s pungent defense can cause temporary blindness. It is not a medical emergency although targeted puppies may scream their heads off like they're dying.

Learn how to use home remedies to remove that offensive skunk smell from your beloved pooch and find out why puppies (and a lot of dogs) seem to be clueless about skunks. Some pups get nailed over and over. You'd think they'd learn their lesson. But, it turns out there is a reason why dogs get confused.

Home Remedies for Treating Skunk Odor

A skunked pet needs a bath. Perseverance is the key to eliminate the odor, and a single dunking rarely does the job. There are several home remedies you can try or commercial products designed specifically for skunk odor removal. Take a look at the home remedies:

  • Massengill Douche. Professional groomers often recommend Massengill brand douche to get rid of skunk odor. Mix two ounces of Massengill to a gallon of water for small dogs—double the recipe for bigger pups—and pour over the washed pet. Let the solution soak for at least 15 minutes. Then rinse with plain water, and bathe with normal shampoo once more.
  • Tomato Juice. A tried-and-true home remedy is a tomato juice soak. Wash your puppy first with pet shampoo and towel dry. Then douse the dog with the juice and let it soak for 10 or 15 minutes. Rinse off the dog and soap up the dog again with the regular shampoo. Alternate the tomato juice soak with the shampoo bath until the dog is less pungent. Be warned, though, that white and light colored pets may turn temporarily pink from this treatment.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide. You can also use chemistry to neutralize the odor. Mix one quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of pet shampoo (any kind will work). Apply to the pet’s wet fur, allow the mix to bubble for 3 or 4 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. This recipe, created by chemist Paul Krebaum, works better than anything on the market. You can’t buy it, though, because the formula can’t be bottled. It explodes if left in a closed container. So if your pet is skunked, mix only one application at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be cleaning up more than just the pet. Refer to this terrific step-by-step for more details.

    Tips for Washing

    Perform the clean up outside, or else you’ll need to deodorize your entire house after scrubbing the pet. Wear comfortable, disposable old clothes and gloves because your pup is liable to transfer odor to you during the bathing process.

    Before washing the dog, be sure to comb out any tangled fur because water will cement these wads in place. Most times, a regular pet grooming shampoo won’t do the trick. But, if you pick up commercial products available from pet stores, those formulas may work well.

    Check the puppy’s eyes and flush with sterile contact lens saline solution, artificial tears, or even the garden hose if he suffered a direct hit in the face. Flush the eyes for at least 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the sting.

    Mixed Signal That Leads to Dogs Get Sprayed

    Skunks give a fair warning with stomped feet, turning around, and holding the tail high. But this elevated tail poised to launch its smelly cargo sends mixed signals to pets.

    A straight-up tail is a greeting behavior for cats, and for dogs, a high-wagging tail begs your puppy to sniff. The poor puppy thinks the skunk has shown the equivalent of a dog offering to shake hands and misunderstands the skunk’s invitation. Pups simply speak a different language and fail to understand the skunk’s warning.

    Why Skunks Stink

    Skunks have musk glands on each side of the anus. These glands are equipped with retractable ducts. They can take aim and spray the stink a distance of 10 to 15 feet, so even standoffish pets are liable to get nailed.

    Skunk spray contains thiols, an organic compound composed of a sulfur atom attached to a hydrogen atom attached to a carbon atom. These same types of compounds create bad breath and the offensive odor of flatulence. Thiols have a lingering rotten egg odor, and the skunk’s oily secretion makes it difficult to get rid of. Skunk spray is so pungent, a concentration of one in 10 parts per billion can make humans gag. Just think how obnoxious or downright painful the smell is to your puppy’s sensitive sense of smell.