Help! What To Do When Your Dog Gets Sprayed By A Skunk

If your dog ever has the misfortune to get sprayed by a skunk, you definitely want to be prepared! There is nothing worse than opening the door to let your dog in, only to realize he’s been sprayed. One sniff will tell you instantly and most people cannot stand to even be in the same room with their dog once they have been sprayed. 

So why is skunk spray so offensive? Skunk spray comes from two glands which are located on each side of the skunk’s anus. The glands produce the liquid which is composed of sulfur containing chemicals called mercaptans. The odor from these chemicals is so powerful that it can ward off bears as well as other attackers and if sprayed directly into the face, can cause temporary blindness as well as gagging and coughing.

Not only does the skunk’s spray have an awful odor, if it gets on clothing, skin or fur, the smell can last for weeks if left untreated. The important thing to remember is that the longer you wait to try to neutralize the odor, the less effective you will be in trying to get rid of it.

So here’s what to do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk.

One – If at all possible, do not let the dog into the house. When sprayed, most dogs will run frantically around, rubbing themselves on carpet and furniture to try to rid themselves of the smell. 

This speads the smelly sulfur laden chemicals everywhere and can leave your entire house nearly uninhabitable. If you have no choice but to let your dog in, confine him to a room such as a bathroom that has no carpet or other cloth surfaces until you can treat his coat. 

Two – Treat your dog’s coat with a rinse designed to neutralize the odor. Most people have heard advice about giving your dog a bath in tomato juice or even rubbing ketchup in his coat. These treatments are not effective. 

One of the best homemade rinses you can use is a mixture of one quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide plus one fourth cup baking soda plus two teaspoons dishwashing liquid soap. This solution must be made fresh and used on the dog’s coat immediately. 

Do not wet the dog’s fur down first, but apply the solution, massage into the coat throughly and then rinse out. If you have a very large dog, you may need to double or even triple the formula.

Bonus Woof Post Tip: While you are dealing with the smell, a little Vick’s salve rubbed into each of your nostrils (not your dogs!) to mask the smell. Works like a charm!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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