8 Steps How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Dog


Having your dog sprayed by a skunk is one of a dog owner’s biggest worries. Not only does it smell completely horrific, but getting skunk smell off a dog is extremely difficult. 

Skunk is a scent that everyone can recognise, whether you live in an area with many skunks or few skunks. Whether you are away camping for a weekend, on a trail hike, or even driving down the highway with your windows rolled down, the stench of skunk is one that cannot be avoided.

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Not only are skunks in every state, but they are capable of setting up homes in both rural and urbans settings. Also, they do in fact thrive in city life. In most instances, skunks will keep to themselves, but when they feel threatened they release an awful odor.

So, with skunks setting up homes both rural and in the city and with them releasing their odor when feeling threatened, this makes a perfect recipe for your dog getting coated in skunk when out on a walk wherever you live.

Dogs absolutely love to play with other animals. They love to go off exploring. While this is fantastic, the playful behavior of a dog can come across threatening to a skunk. This means that dogs often find themselves covered in skunk smell. And you find yourself in the position of having to get rid of it!

This can be a very smelly, unenjoyable experience for dog owners, so today I am going to talk you through the most efficient, reliable, and quick way to get the job done. I will then go on to explain the best thing to do when you encounter a skunk so that hopefully you can avoid these sprays in future! 

If facing skunk spray is something you often find yourself having to do, then look no further if you want answers!


What is skunk spray?

Before we learn how to remove skunk spray, it is useful to know what skunk spray is.

Skunk spray is an oil that is produced by the anal glands of a skunk. Most animals emit an odor from their glands when going to the toilet and this creates a marked territory. Some animals release this odor when feeling threatened as well, and it works as a defense mechanism. 

The odors in skunk spray become more potent when they attach to proteins in your dog’s skin. This means that the odor becomes long-lasting and more persistent. They also become a lot stronger when mixed with water. This is important to remember when it comes to handling a dog that has been sprayed!

Whilst most may chuck their dog straight in the bath or a lake to wash off the spray, this can actually enhance the smell. It is important to follow the steps in his article for an effective skunk spray removal on dogs.

How to Remove Skunk Smell From a Dog

Step 1

Get your pet outdoors and to a safe place. If you have already let them back in the house before noticing the smell, try not to worry too much. However, the best thing is to get them back out the door as soon as possible. 

The oils may transfer to anything your dog touches. Thus it is best to use their leash to tie them up in a suitable area outside, away from any personal items or garden furniture.

Step 2

Check your dog’s eyes. Skunks will often spray dogs in the face because dogs will approach a skunk head on to try and sniff it. These oils can cause injury to the eyes if it is not rinsed or washed away as quickly as possible. 

Use a pitcher to pour clean water over your dog’s eyes. But try to avoid getting the water on the rest of the spray. It is, however, better to ensure the eyes are properly rinsed out than to worry about getting water on the rest of the spray. So this should be the priority.

Step 3

Check your dog for any possible injuries. When dogs come into contact with most animals, they try to play. This can have a backlash that may result in a fight if the other animal goes into defense mode. 

You should check for any scratches, bites, or signs of other kinds of injury. If the skunk has sprayed your dog, it is likely the skunk felt threatened and may have lashed out. 

Skunks carry many diseases that can be extremely harmful to both animals and humans, such as rabies. If you notice any possible sign of injury then you should contact your vet immediately.

Step 4

Make sure you pop on some gloves before you start working on removing the scent. Lather your pet with a skunk odor removal solution or alternatively you can create your own.

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To make your own solution by combining 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and 1 to 2 teaspoons of washing-up liquid. Mix this up.

With either a homemade solution or a bought solution, lather up your dog with it. Let it sit on your dog for around 15 to 20 minutes. 

Keep your dog in a secluded area so that the solution does not get on anything else and so the dog cannot rub it off.

Step 5

Once you have done this process once, you need to rinse your dog thoroughly. Then repeat step 4 and leave it for the recommended time. Rinse again and continue to repeat this process until the smell disappears.

Step 6

Once the smell has faded, rinse your pet thoroughly to ensure all of the solution is no longer on or in their fur. You then need to thoroughly dry your dog.

To ensure you dry your dog properly, you can use a towel to help absorb the moisture. Or you can use a hairdryer on your pet if they will allow it. Using a hairdryer will speed up the process.

Ensure that whatever towel you use to dry your pet you then throw away. This is the same for any clothes you may have used to lather up the solution when it was on your dog. Towels and clothes may absorb some of the skunk oil. They will then hold the scent and may transfer it to other clothing and furniture.

Step 7

Finally, it is important to reward your pet at the end of the process. Whilst it has been exhausting and smelly for you, the whole experience will also be quite traumatic for them!

Give them a little treat and allow you and your dog some time to rest – you will both need it!

For more tips on keeping a dog calm during grooming, click through to our post.

Step 8

This step is not necessary if the above has worked. However, if you do find that you are struggling to remove the smell, or you simply cannot bring yourself to do it, you can always call in help for this.

There are many companies that offer deskunking services. Whilst this takes the pressure off you, it also means you may have to wait a bit longer to get the oil off your dog. So this may make things difficult and increases the risk of the oil transferring onto other objects. However, it is always an option to consider! 

dog in water - How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Dog

How long does it take for a skunk smell to wear off a dog?

If you decide to follow none of the above steps, it can take up to three weeks for skunk odor to leave your dog. 

In the meantime, the oil may transfer to furniture and carpets and also onto your clothing. This can take even longer to go away because, unlike a dog, it is not being aired out and washed or cleaned regularly. 

If you do notice skunk spray on your dog, it is best to actively try to remove it.

How to Avoid Skunk Spray

Once you have experienced skunk spray and the tiring removal process, it is likely you will be very cautious to try and prevent this in the future.

The best way to do this is to keep your dog on a leash if you are walking through areas known to have skunks.

If you do come across a skunk, make sure your dog is on a leash, and very slowly back away. As mentioned, skunks spray when they feel threatened. So slowly stepping away from the skunk will decrease the risk of startling it. 

Try not to raise your arms or run or move too quickly. Once you have about ten feet between you and the skunk you should be good to carry on with your walk.

Skunks are not entirely unavoidable, but staying cautious is the best approach to take.

How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Dog – Final Thoughts

Skunk spray removal can be a long, tiring, and smelly process. However, it is one that most dog owners have to go through at some point.

If you do find your dog smelling of skunk, follow the simple steps in this article. Be sure to check their eyes for any spray, and to check them for any injuries. Avoid using water to clean them off and take them to an area far away from anything else they can transfer the odor onto. 

If you notice injuries, you can seek support from your vet. If you cannot remove the smell or you simply don’t want to, you can seek help from deskunking dog cleaners. 

Whatever you do, try to keep your distance, don’t move too fast, and if a skunk sprays your dog, don’t worry! It will be a long day of cleaning, but your furry friend will be back to normal before you know it!


How long does it take for a dog to stop smelling like skunk?

Some dogs are more prone to retaining the skunk odor due to their coat type or the intensity of the encounter. If the smell persists or if your dog develops skin irritation or other issues, consider consulting a veterinarian for further advice.

How do groomers get rid of skunk smell?

Skunk odor removal can be a challenging process and may require multiple steps and treatments. Professional groomers use specialized techniques and products to effectively remove skunk odor from dogs. If you’re dealing with a skunk-sprayed dog, it’s advisable to consult a professional groomer with experience in handling skunk odor.

Does Dawn remove skunk smell from dogs?

While Dawn can be effective in helping to reduce skunk odor, it might not completely eliminate the smell, especially if the skunk spray is particularly strong. Professional grooming products and techniques may be more effective in completely removing the odor.