Removing the Smell of a Skunk from Your Pet
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Q. My pet got sprayed by a skunk. How can I get that smell out?
 
A.

SkunkCause
Contents of the anal glands of the skunk are sprayed onto the pet.

General Information
The scent of a skunk can not only be powerfully malodorous, but also very irritating to the eyes and mucus membranes. The secretions contain multiple chemicals. One group, the thiols, are responsible for most of the strong scent. Others are acetate derivatives of these thiols. They are responsible for the smell, that tends to linger and become worse if the pet becomes wet.

Toxic Dose
Not applicable

Signs
Of course, the most obvious sign is the smell. The pet may roll on the ground attempting to rid himself of the smell. The eyes may water, and the pet may be nauseated and retch.

Immediate Action
Remember, if your pet was close enough to get sprayed by a skunk, he also could have been bitten. Skunks may carry rabies. Examine your pet carefully for bite wounds and contact your veterinarian if you find any. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR PET'S RABIES VACCINATION STATUS UP TO DATE.

Either use a treatment specifically formulated for use on skunk odors like Skunk Kleen or Skunk-Off, or use the following formula:

  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap

This recipe can be doubled for bigger breeds.

Wet your pet down and work the mixture through the pet's hair. Leave it on for three to four minutes and rinse. This will generally need to be repeated several times. Be sure to throw away any excess mixture. Do NOT get any of the mixture in the eyes; as a precaution, place protective ophthalmic ointment in the eyes.

Note that the above mixture may bleach the hair color temporarily until the animal sheds and new hair grows in. Common antidotes like tomato juice, vinegar, or regular shampoos will not be as effective.

Contact your veterinarian, if the eyes are severely affected, or the pet continues to vomit or retch.

Veterinary Care
General treatment: Bathing with a special formula will continue, and the eyes will be flushed with water or sterile saline.

Supportive treatment: Medications may be administered to help with the nausea, if present.

Specific treatment: None

Prognosis
Good

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