Lindsay here! To talk about the dreaded “skunk spray” incident that Bug had last night.
Here’s a question for you: What is the most common time for a dog to get sprayed by a skunk?
Answer: SCREW:YOU O’clock. That’s when.
Not only are skunks nocturnal, but they also aren’t very fond of human (or dog) interaction so they tend to come out late at night when the human world is sleeping. This allows them to lumber around mostly unbothered to dig up pesty beetles or pick through garbage cans.
Skunks are actually quite beneficial to have hanging around (when not spraying your dogs). While they are sometimes known as garbage pickers in urban areas, they primary feed on bugs that live in the ground, which is the best thing about skunks! They are voracious eaters and can put away a large number of lawn and yard pests keeping your lawn free of beetles, cockroaches, ground wasps, spiders, and lots of other creepy crawlies.
We have had two ‘pew kitty’ incidents which resulted in very stinky dogs. The first time it happened to Cappy and it got it right square in the face and eyes. He ran straight up to a skunk who firmly held it’s ground, turned, and let it rip. I felt awful for Cappy because not only is that stuff stinky, but it actually burns the eyes and has a very bitter taste. Poor Cappy was all red in the face and his mouth was foaming like no tomorrow.
With Cappy’s spray experience we did everything wrong. Having learned from that experience, we now have a much better method for minimizing the impact of the skunk spray.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR DOG GETS SPRAYED BY A SKUNK
#1 rule: Do not bring your dog straight into the house and into the bathtub! That was our first reaction when it happened with Cappy and our house literally smelled of skunk for more than a week. Don’t do this!
#2 rule: Do not go straight for the water to wash him/her off! Skunk spray is oily in nature, and if you’ve ever tried to get grease or oil off your hands you know all water does is spread it around. Going straight to the hose or bathtub just smears the oils all over your dog’s coat.
Instead of rushing your dog straight to the hose or the bathtub, get your dog to a spot maybe in the driveway or back yard where you can get started on damage control.
The Mythbusters actually did one of their most valuable Mythbusting experiments ever. They tested every single method for skunk odor removal out there and tested all of them in a very objective way. One of the first things people tell you to do is get the tomato paste! I’ve also heard that beer is a go-to product for removing skunk smell. The good thing is, we now have objective facts that neither beer nor tomato juice are the best options for skunk odor removal!
THE DEFINITIVE BEST SKUNK ODOR REMOVER RECIPE
- 1 Quart 3% strength hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dawn dish detergent
All you need are these three ingredients to get the best possible outcome for your skunked dog. Just grab an old tupperware or bowl and mix all of these things together and grab a little hand towel and venture outside with your dog. Remember – ABSOLUTELY NO WATER YET!
Since peroxide can really sting if it gets in the eyes, you have to be super careful when working around the face. We dipped our face towel in the mixture and then lightly scrubbed around his head, ears, chin, and chest. Those areas typically get the bulk of the spray because the dog runs towards the skunk as it’s getting sprayed. Work it in to their areas really well while being careful not to get any of the mixture inside the ears or eyes. Once the head area is done you can move on to the chest, front legs, and then towards the back. We really soaked down his chest and front legs because, again, its where the bulk of the spray went. Again, still no water should be used. Just the mixture.
Since you started on the head that is the area where the mixture has been sitting on the skin the longest. After about 15 minutes of scrubbing and wiping down your dog he is ready to be rinsed with water. At this point you can bring the dog inside to the bathtub or use the hose. Be very careful when rinsing the head again because there is still peroxide on his skin that will drip down in to the dog’s eyes. Instead of pouring water over the head we used a clean rag with just water to wet and wipe over and over until I was confident that most of the mixture was gone from the top of his head.
After you rise all of the mixture off you can use a regular dog shampoo or conditioner to keep the dog’s skin from drying out and becoming irritated. Once the dog is dry you might notice some white flakes, could either be dry skin or the baking soda that wasn’t fully rinsed off. Be sure to watch your dog’s skins for any reactions to the products you used.
If your dog still smells strongly after this you can do it again up to three times before giving the dog’s skin a rest.
You should know that this is not going to remove the skunk smell 100%. Some breeds of dogs have hair that will absorb the smell more or less and in general there is just no way to remove the smell all together. This mixture, however, has made it so that you can only smell skunk on Bug if you are right up close to him sniffing him and we only had to wash him down with it once!
Have you ever tried this method or other methods for removing skunk smell that weren’t covered in the Mythbusters episode? We want to hear about it!
Watch the full episode here!