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Dog Sprayed by a Skunk? 5 Easy Steps to Neutralize the Smell

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There will be no question if your dog has been sprayed by a skunk. It’s a smell like no other. In fact, skunk spray is made up of 3 compounds easily detectable to human and canine noses. Although the chemical composition varies depending on the skunk species, all contain something called “thiols”. Thoils are made up of a combination of sulfur (think rotting eggs) and hydrogen atom. There are 7 compounds that contribute to the foul odor of skunk spray.

Thiols, or “thiosulfate” compounds are present in foods like onions and garlic which are known to be toxic to cats and dogs.

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably worried about the health of your dog and the types of lingering effects skunk spay may have. Unless your dog appears to be in severe distress (unlikely; but always seek assistance from a licensed veterinarian when in doubt), he/she is going to be okay.

Don’t be surprised if your dog is panting heavily, has reddened eyes from the spray, and is drooling or vomiting. Those side-effects shouldn’t last long. If there is a lot of discomfort in the eyes, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. He/she can safely apply an ocular spray to flush the eyes of residual chemical compounds.

Is My Dog in Danger From Getting Sprayed By a Skunk?

Luckily, the spray of a skunk generally does what it is intended to do – ward off danger. If your dog happens to chase a skunk, the animal’s fear can trigger a spray response that can travel up to 15 feet. The further away your dog is when it happens the better.

Generally speaking, skunk spray isn’t considered dangerous. It can, however, cause unpleasant side-effects which are listed below. There is a rare condition known as Heinz Body that can affect some dogs sprayed by skunk. The condition is triggered by certain compounds in the skunk spray and seriously damages the hemoglobin (red protein that move oxygen through the body).

Side-Effects From A Dog Sprayed By Skunk

Skunk spray is made up of chemical compounds than can trigger:

Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting usually occurs as a result of direct spray into the mouth. Unfortunately, if your dog was sprayed by a skunk and then immediately entered the home, those compounds can linger in the air for months. If that does happen, open all of the windows and doors (consider the safety of other pets and small children) to try and draw the spray outside.

Unfortunately, that spray tends to aerosolize and will quickly sink into leather (sofas, purses, jackets, etc.) and other household fabrics. It can absorb into your hair just as much as it sticks to your dog’s fur.

Nausea, vomiting, and even headache can affect humans subjected to the oils for a long time after the spray. Dogs seem to recover fairly quickly, although they may experience the same nausea as their human counterparts.

Continuous vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration in dogs. If it continues in your dog, be sure to contact the veterinarian for assistance.

Gagging

There’s a good chance your dog will gag immediately after being sprayed by a skunk. The significance of this will depend on how much spray he/she received and how close your dog was to the skunk when it happened.

Gagging isn’t a serious issue in this case and should go away within an hour or sooner. Washing your dog’s face may help a bit, but you’ll need to neutralize the compounds before there is any huge improvement. Keep reading to discover a few easy tricks to neutralize a dog sprayed by a skunk.

Watery eyes

It’s natural for anyone (dog or human) to develop red and watery eyes after being in close contact with noxious compounds. This, too, will clear up in time. However, if it seems to be lasting longer than a few hours, is affecting your dog’s sight, or if your dog is really pawing and digging at the area, a veterinarian checkup should be in order.

Drooling

Drooling is also a natural response to chemical compounds. The chemicals trigger a response in the body to try and expel the substance. Drooling often goes hand-in-hand with gagging and vomiting.

How Do I Get Skunk Smell Off My Dog?

There are many products on the market that can assist in removing the smell of skunk from your dog. However, most people don’t have any of those products on hand when they’re actually needed. There are just four things you need to have on hand (and most people do):

  • Vinegar

Dish Soap

Hydrogen Peroxide

Baking Soda

5 Easy Ways to Neutralize a Dog Sprayed by a Skunk

Using the items noted above, you’re going to want to make a paste. The amounts noted below are best used for a small to medium sized dog. Do not be surprised if you need to stock up on these items to use again later. Sometimes the smell doesn’t entirely come out on the first try.

Ingredients

Use an entire bottle of hydrogen peroxide

Use a small container of baking soda.

Add about a quarter cup of vinegar

Mix in a few drops of dishwater detergent

Grab a stack of clean rags or old towels

Directions

Put your dog in the tub and soak his/her fur with this mixture. The trick is to let the mixture stay on the fur for as long as possible. These are all food-grade ingredients, so it won’t hurt your dog. He/she likely isn’t feeling well enough to try and lick the mixture off anyway.

Unfortunately, simply getting your dog wet is going to activate those compounds. The smell is going to seem worse before it gets better. You likely won’t be able to reuse the towels or rags so be prepared to toss them afterwards.

If your dog is fine sitting in the tub for a while you can do that. If you’re not worried about your flooring you can let the dog roam around the house. Usually the best option (to keep the mixture on the dog’s fur as long as possible) is to crate your dog.

There is no specific amount of time that is right. If your dog is really uncomfortable you may need to rinse the mixture off sooner rather than later. That’s okay. You’ll be surprised at how much the smell disappears after the first wash. Don’t be surprised, however, if you have to do it a few more times.

Summary

Skunks tend to come out at daybreak and twilight so pay particular attention if you let your dog out during those times. The biggest danger of your dog encountering a skunk is the risk of him/her chasing the animal across the road into traffic.

If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, there are many methods available to neutralize the smell. You can try the 5 ingredient suggestion from this post, contact the veterinarian for products, or visit the local pet shop for assistance.

Please contact me with any questions you might have. Comments can easily be submitted in the form below.  You can also email me directly at:  [email protected]

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