Skunk Odor Causes and Remedies

What to do if you or your dog get sprayed by a skunk?

What is Skunk Spray?

Skunk odor is caused by a skunk’s spray glands which are very similar to the dogs anal glands.  They are located on each side of the anus and secrete an oily substance with a very pungent odor.  The secretion is composed of sulfur compounds, such as thiols, which gives it the offensive odor.  Some have described the smell as rotten eggs, garlic, and/or burnt rubber.  Muscles on each side of the anus allow the skunk to spray with amazing accuracy at a distance of about 10 feet (give or take).

When are Skunks most active?

Mid to late winter is typically when skunk mating season begins.  Skunks are nocturnal animals coming out at night to search for food.  They tend to show up everywhere. Skunks are usually non-aggressive animals, but if they feel threatened they will become defensive. 

A skunk won’t just run up to you and spray you.  If they feel threatened they will send warning signs first.  They might tap their front feet, hiss, raise their tail, and possibly lunge toward you.  These are warning signs to back off.  As a last resort they will turn their hind end toward the threat with their tails raised and spray. 


Skunk Odor Removal Recipe

To Remove Skunk Odor

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup of baking soda

1 teaspoon of Dawn dish soap (the blue kind)

Mix all ingredients and apply to the sprayed section, or on all of the dog if you prefer, using a sponge or squirt bottle. Let set for about 10 - 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Repeat if necessary. Do not store unused shampoo, it will only be effective when mixed fresh. 

*Warning - Contains peroxide.

  • Keep out of the dog's eyes and mouth.
  • Peroxide will cause the dog's coat to lighten, especially dark colored fur.
  • Watch your dog closely to make sure the peroxide doesn't irritate the skin. Rinse immediately with cool water if irritation occurs.
  • Mixture can dry out the skin and fur.  If needed, follow up with a good conditioner.  

Since skunk spray is an oily substance, the Dawn, whose slogan is "gets grease out of your way," is perfect for cleaning the oil off the coat.  The baking soda helps absorb the odor just like it does odors in the refrigerator.  And the peroxide helps lift the residue from the dog's coat similar to how OxiClean gets the grime out of your clothes in the washer.  All these ingredients together help check, double check, and triple check that the skunk spray is removed from the dog's coat.  Make sure you wash the dog as quickly as possible since the odor will set in, just as a neglected stain will set in your clothes. 


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