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This blog post was originally published in 2012. It has been updated with new information and republished in 2019.
I grew up in the city. The animals I see regularly today, were creatures in books and on television when I grew up. Deer, skunks, coyotes, snakes, and moles – oh my! When we brought home Rodrigo and Sydney, it never occurred to me that we'd have to know how to get the skunk smell out of their coats. The first year that we had puppies, we received a crash course in how to bathe our dogs after they've been skunked.
My First Experience with Skunks
It was a little after 1 in the morning when Johan bounded out of bed, raising the roof with foul language. I woke up and as I was saying “what's going on?” The smell hit me. My brain hadn't woken up yet and I couldn't place the foul smell, but it was familiar. Then Johan asked the million dollar question “did those dogs bring a skunk in the house?”
I froze, then I bolted into action. We became a well-oiled machine. Johan went directly to the garage (the dogs had access to doggy doors out to the dog yard) and I booted up the computer. By the time he reported that Rodrigo had been sprayed by a skunk, I had the recipe.
Homemade Skunk Smell Removal Shampoo
- 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
- 1 tsp of grease cutting dish detergent (we use Dawn)
I ran out to Safeway, a local 24-hour grocery store, to pick up the ingredients, mixed everything together in a bucket, and crawled in the shower with the bucket and Rodrigo. I bathed Rodrigo with the mixture several times and it cut down on the skunk smell drastically with very little mess (thinking about the tomato sauce). We used the same mixture to wash our clothing, the dogs' bedding, and to clean the floors.
It May Take Several Baths
The shampoo blend took a bite out of the smell, but it didn't all go away. Rodrigo got a blast of the skunk smell when he met his first skunk. The second time he took that blast in the fast when he woke a skunk up early one morning. So I bathed Rodrigo several times over the next month or so until the smell eventually faded away.
I'm happy to say that the third time he saw a skunk, he turned and ran away. But Scout and Zoey took a hit because they didn't know any better. Through all of these experiences with skunks, Sydney has been our only dog with the sense to leave the black and white kitty alone.
Warning About this DIY Skunk Treatment
Don't get the skunk shampoo mixture in or near your dog's eyes, nose, or mouth. The second time Rodrigo was skunked, he got it mostly in the face. I used the mixture on the rest of his body and for his face, I used Dawn alone. I still avoided his eyes (which were red), his mouth and nose. The Dawn broke up the oily skunk stuff and we just had to deal with the smell a bit longer.
I also called his vet to confirm that he was okay given the straight shot to his eyes. Rodrigo was fine, however, if your dog has this experience, I recommend calling the vet because every dog is different.