It is 11 o'clock at night, and you let your dog out for the last walk of the night. After 20 minutes, you return to the door and call your dog back in, and they dart right past you. Right after your dog runs in the door, you notice this horrible smell, like something is burning. Oh no! Your dog got skunked in the yard!
If you have never had a dog get skunked before, you may have no idea what to do next. Fortunately, with a bit of patience and the right DIY remedy, you'll get that skunk odor out of your dog's coat!
At Volhard Dog Nutrition, we believe the best defense is a good offense, so we'll also share with pet parents simple prevention methods against skunk encounters!
What is Skunk Spray?
The spray is a skunk's ultimate line of defense against other animals. These typically peaceful creatures produce their spray inside their anal glands and shoot it toward predators or any inquisitive animal as a matter of last resort. Any unfortunate being within 15 feet is at risk of being sprayed by a skunk.
Running into a skunk will not always trigger a spraying response. Skunks have a limited supply of five individual sprays, which might take up to a week to replenish. Therefore, a skunk will attempt to scare you away through hissing, tapping their feet, or raising their tails before turning their hind end toward you — that's when you know you're in trouble!
How Does Skunk Spray Affect Dogs?
A skunk encounter gone wrong might result in symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Temporary blindness
What Makes Skunk Smell So ... "Skunky"?
What is it about a skunk that makes it smell like rotten eggs on steroids? The secret lies in the organic compounds called thiols, each of which contain a sulfur atom. And if there's one thing we know about sulfur, is this: sulfur stinks!
This aromatic bouquet of sulfates and thiols, although not lethal, can wreak havoc in a dog's body, especially when sprayed right in the mouth. Such was the experience of our little Chihuahua, who started foaming at the mouth after an unfortunate skunk encounter as a response to the unbearable flavor.
When and Where are Skunk Encounters More Common?
Skunk encounters frequently occur at dusk, when these nocturnal mammals come out to feed. Various species of skunks are endemic to all the Lower 48 states (with small no-skunk areas in Utah, Nevada, and California). Only Alaska and Hawaii know no skunk presence.
The skunk odor is easiest to detect between April and early June, when female skunks give birth to litters of four to six babies. A baby skunk can't control their sprayer, which means they'll constantly spray their siblings. The presence of skunk smell during these months means there's a nest nearby, helping you and your dog stay away from trouble.
How Long Does It Take for Skunk Smell to Wear off a Dog's Coat?
Getting sprayed by a skunk might be easy, but ridding your dog of the stink surely isn't. It can take up to two weeks to lose the skunk odor. And if you're the dog parent who loves giving and receiving kisses, you'll be painfully aware of the smell. We recommend keeping your skunked puppy away from your bedroom for a while because they're simply going to stink up the whole place.
How to Prevent a Skunk Encounter
Although skunks are an everyday part of urban and suburban life, the prospect of dealing with skunk sprays shouldn't deter you and your four-legged partner from your favorite outdoor activities! All it takes is an ounce of prevention (and a drop of good luck)!
The best way to prevent your dog from getting sprayed by a skunk is to keep them away from areas where these mammals are known to live. If you're hiking or camping in skunk territory, keep your dog on a leash, as close to you as possible, to prevent an unexpected chase. Loud noises frequently scare these animals away before resorting to spraying.
However, you can't keep an eye on your dog 24/7. If your furry friend enjoys spending time in the yard, especially in the evening, the following tips will help prevent an unwanted encounter with a skunk:
- Accompany your dog whenever possible.
- Bury your yard fence a few inches underground to keep them from digging right underneath it.
- Clear the yard of any food scraps that might attract these animals.
- Leave a light on at night to scare the skunks away.
How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on a Dog
Unfortunately, not all skunk encounters are odorless, so you need to know how to act quickly if you want to efficiently get rid of skunk odor. That means knowing both what to do and what not to do if things get a little ... stinky.
1. Do NOT Spray Your Dog With Water
If you think water will make skunk smell magically disappear, think again. Skunk spray is made up of an oil, which repels the water while also becoming more pungent when wet. That's why you need to address the skunk oil first and foremost.
2. Does Tomato Juice Remove the Skunk Smell?
The topic of removing skunk odors reaches as far as old wive's tales, and none is more prominent online than tomato-based products.
The misconception is that you put the dog in tomato juice, and it's going to take the skunk smell out. However, all it does is temporarily mask the skunk odor through olfactory fatigue — the nose gets hit by the acidity of the tomatoes and forgets about the skunk smell, but only until the former wears off. A few minutes later, the skunk odor will make a full-fledged return!
Furthermore, practical roadblocks stand before the short-lived efficiency of tomato juice. There's no telling how your dog will react to all that red goo being poured all over their coat. Pray they don't shake it off, otherwise you'll have a crime scene-like room to clean up!
3. Creating Your Homemade Solution for Skunk Smells
Once you're passed the skunk encounter shock, it's time to create a potent skunk odor remover. Fortunately, there's no need for special, fancy-named ingredients to put together an effective remedy to remove the odor completely. A mix of these three ingredient will thoroughly get the job done:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Avoid anything stronger than 3% lest it irritate sensitive skin. Use fresh hydrogen peroxide, not from an old bottle that's been sitting open for years.
- 1/4 cup of baking soda;
- 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish detergent to distribute the mixture evenly through the dog's fur. Any brand of liquid soap, such as Dawn, will do.
Once you've gathered these ingredients, mix them together in an open container, like a bucket or a large bowl. Avoid plastic bottles because the mixture is going to bubble up and produce gas, causing them to explode under pressure.
Once the skunk odor remover is ready, put on some rubber gloves and give your dog a nice, soothing bath. Use a sponge to reach all the way down to your dog's skin. Gently soak your dog's fur and skin in the solution while being extra careful not to get it in your dog's eyes. It's understandable that your dog might feel uneasy during the process, so consider giving them CBD oil or treats to ease the anxiety.
Allow the mixture to work its magic for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. The smell might still linger after the first bath, so repeat the process until your dog is finally skunk odor-free!
Lastly, wash your own clothes with regular laundry detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda to get any residual skunk spray off of them.
4. Groomers Can Help You Remove Skunk Odor!
If you can't remove skunk smell on your own, it's time to bring in reinforcements. Dog groomers are experts at dealing with skunk encounters through a perfect mix of professional dog shampoo and tender, loving care. Your dog will forget all about this dreadful experience while enjoying a well-deserved pampering. And there's no better place in South New Jersey and the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area for dog grooming than our friends at K9 Basics!
The Best Way of Getting Rid of Skunk Smell is to Avoid It Altogether!
Dealing with the aftermath of skunk encounters is a nasty business, especially if your dog receives a full dose of that stinky spray. That's why avoiding these animals altogether is your best bet at keeping your furry friend stink-free. But, if the unthinkable happens, you're now equipped to take action and have your dog smell like a meadow in full bloom once more. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!