What to Do if Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk?

Why is a skunk bath different from a routine bath?

First, what exactly do skunks spray? A skunk sprays a sulfur-based compound called thiol from two glands that anatomically lay around its anus. Since thiol is a sulfur-based compound it needs to be neutrally broken down to dissipate. In other words, it can’t simply be rinsed off with soap and water. In fact, thiol acts like oil and will spread when it comes in contact with water, setting in the odor even more into the coat. 

Therefore, the most important thing to remember is not to wet or bathe the dog prior to a skunk treatment. 

How to neutralize the odor

Many resources suggest using household items like tomato juice to neutralize the odor, however these will only mask the skunk smell. Tomato juice consists of carotenoids and lycopene which are known compounds to aid in neutralizing odors. But tomato juice does not contain enough quantities of these compounds to break down the thiols. 

Instead, we recommend products specifically designed to break down the thiols, like Skunk Off from Skout’s Honor. The Skunk Off (as with most skunk products) will need to be applied to a dry coat. You can bathe your dog with a pH balancing shampoo after using Skunk Off. We recommend Kenic Emu Shampoo for its coat-nourishing and hydrating properties. 

Proper Aftercare

Most skunk sprays result in multiple baths over a couple week period to get rid of the smell. It’s important to note that the natural oils on their skin are an essential part of their immune system. Unfortunately, bathing (even with a pH balancing shampoo) strips these natural oils, and bathing a dog too frequently can often result in dry, itchy skin. 

Therefore, we recommend supplementing with a good source of omegas and applying topical conditioners to aid in skin and coat hydration from the inside out. Some of our favorites are:

Unfortunately, skunks sprays usually happen at the least convenient times and no one ever plans to have a skunk spray happen to their pet. For that reason, we recommend having a bottle of Skunk Off on hand for those “oh crap” moments to make cleanup less stressful for everyone.