Oh no! My dog got skunked

3/23/20243 min read

fawn pug in white bathtub
fawn pug in white bathtub

* Disclaimer - this article is being provided by a dog grooming salon, not a veterinarian. We primarily learned about this de-skunking solution from articles on the internet. An example is located on the Humane Society website. Please check with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

If you live in any of the densely populated areas of San Diego, then you know we have skunks. They really seem to like Mission Hills and Hillcrest! If you also own an active dog, then you know there is always a risk of your pup getting skunked! Sadly, it mostly seems to happen at night when dog groomers and many stores are closed. So if you are concerned your dog is at risk for a skunking, then it is a good idea to prepare for it ahead of time.

At Besties DogSpa, we regularly bathe dogs that have an unplanned play date with a skunk. We use the cleaning solution described below. We find it to be the most effective solution we have tried. If we are open when your dog is skunked, and you don't want to deal with it, then contact us as soon as possible and we will do our best to help you. Many of the skunked dogs we bathe are brought in the day after the skunking. The process described here still helps the next day, but it is best to clean your dog as soon as possible.

What to do before your dog gets skunked
Time is of the essence when your pup gets skunked, so be prepared. Purchase and keep the following ingredients in a handy place:
• 1 quart (32oz) of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (if you have a larger dog you may need 2-3 bottles to sufficiently wash your dog)
• baking soda
• Dawn dishwashing detergent
• rubber gloves
• a printout of the mixing and application instructions below

What to do if your dog gets skunked
We do not claim to understand the science of skunk spray, but many articles state that skunk spray causes a chemical reaction with your dog's skin and/or fur that literally bonds the smell to your dog. This process starts immediately, so it is important to clean your dog as quickly as possible. Here are the steps we would take if our dog was skunked:

Step 1: If possible, keep your dog outside after being skunked and while you are cleaning them. Skunk spray will easily transfer from your dog to anything they rub against.

Step 2: Check your dog's eyes for irritation. If skunk spray gets in your dog's eye it can cause a lot of irritation. If the eyes are red and irritated, then quickly rinse them with fresh water (put the rubber gloves on!). Only rinse their eyes, not their whole body. Not totally sure about this, but some online documentation suggests that getting the skunk spray wet before cleaning reduces the effectiveness of the cleaning process.

Step 3: Mix together 32oz of Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish detergent. Only mix this solution right before using it. When mixed, the Hydrogen Peroxide may foam up. Pre-mixing might limit the effectiveness of the solution and may also burst if sealed in a container.

Step 4: Put on the rubber gloves! Immediately after mixing the solution, thoroughly rub it into your dog's fur. Often dogs are skunked in the face and it is important to get the solution on the skunk spray. While cleaning your pup's face, try not to let the solution get in their eyes. I know, it's difficult to clean their face well and not get it in their eyes. Make sure you have fresh water handy to rinse their eyes if needed. Once you have completely worked the solution into your dog's fur you can rinse it out with clean water. Leaving the solution on for a few minutes before rinsing is helpful for removing the skunk smell, but you run the risk of bleaching your dog's fur with prolonged exposure to Hydrogen Peroxide. At Besties, we bathe a skunked dog twice with the Hydrogen Peroxide solution. This is not necessary, but we think it helps. If you have a larger dog with a lot of fur you will probably need to mix the Hydrogen Peroxide solution twice.

Step 6: Wash your dog thoroughly with whatever soap/shampoo you typically use.

Will my dog still smell?
Yep. This solution does not completely remove the skunk smell, but it will make it much better! Many customers tell us they don't smell skunk after a few days. We don't have the heart to tell them they just got used to it :). You may get a hint of the skunk smell for up to a week or more, especially if you weren't able to bathe your dog within an hour or two of the skunking. Make sure you also do a good job of cleaning the towels you used and the clothes you were wearing while cleaning your pup. Adding a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cup of baking soda to the wash will help remove the skunk odor from clothes and towels.

For your convenience, Besties DogSpa sells kits that include the needed ingredients, rubber gloves and instructions.