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Did a skunk spray your dog? Here’s how to help them smell better

Learn the health risks of a skunk spraying your dog.

You’re on your morning dog walk, taking in the views, when you notice a black dot in the distance. As you get closer, you both realize it’s a skunk. Because the skunk feels threatened, it sprays its unique, smelly odor onto your pup as it runs away. 

While it’s not a scent you’d want to bottle up, don’t fret. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, is here to share how to rid your dog of this smelly skunk spray. 

What should you do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk?

When a skunk sprays a dog (especially in their eye or mouth area), you may want to see your veterinarian to ensure there aren’t any health risks from the spray. For example, skunk spray in a dog’s eyes can cause health issues like conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers. So look out for your pup holding their eyes shut or constantly squinting.

“Rarely some dogs develop Heinz body anemia,” Dr. McCullough explains. “This is a specific type of anemia in which red blood cells are damaged. Dogs become lethargic, weak and in some cases can develop neurologic signs like incoordination and seizures.”

In severe cases, Heinz body anemia can be fatal, so it’s imperative to see your veterinarian if you notice the symptoms. 

But if your vet rules your pup’s health is OK and you’re frantically searching the web for a way to remove the stench from your pet’s fur, we’ve got you covered. There are a couple of vet-approved mixtures that you can use to remove the smell of skunk spray.

How to get skunk smell off of a dog

The following recipes work to remove the scent of skunk spray from your dog’s fur. Pro-tip: You’ll want to make or buy enough of the solutions to bathe your pup multiple times. 

Peroxide solution

According to Dr. McCullough, this option works well in removing the skunk spray from your dog. You’ll want to add the following ingredients to your shopping list: 

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap

“Pet parents can make the hydrogen peroxide mixture in an open plastic, not metal, bucket or container,” Dr. McCullough says. “Do not put it in a closed container or bottle because it will explode, think elementary school volcano experiment.”

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients, apply it to a small part of your dog's skin to make sure there aren't any issues — if all is good, liberally apply the mixture to your dog’s skin. Protect your pup’s eyes, and don’t let your dog lick the solution. Next, rinse the solution with water or bathe your dog with vet-approved shampoo. You’ll likely need to repeat this process, too. Throw away the mixture when you’re done using it, Dr. McCullough adds.

If this mixture doesn’t remove the skunk smell from your pup, there are some commercial-grade skunk removers (that work on carpeting and clothing, too) that you can ask your veterinarian about, Dr. McCullough says. 

RELATED: Tips for keeping your dog safe when coexisting with coyotes

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Tomato juice for skunk spray on a dog

Unfortunately, tomato juice doesn’t work to remove the scent of skunk spray from a dog, Dr. McCullough warns. You’re better off testing the homemade solution or asking your veterinarian for an alternative. 

How long does a skunk smell last on a dog?

According to Dr. McCullough, the skunk smell could last for weeks to months, depending on how successful the solution is at removing the scent from your pup. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Karolina Wv on Unsplash

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