Auburn, CA dog in bath.

Ah, nature. There is nothing quite like it. From the beauty of the forests to the endless array of wildlife living amongst us, nature is a wonderful place to relax and kick back with our four-legged friends. 

Nature, of course, does come with a price sometimes, and that is especially true when your dog encounters a skunk. If that’s never happened to you, consider yourself lucky. But if it does, what should you do when your pet gets skunked? The team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital is here to let you know what to do next.

The Scent of Defense

Skunks are beautiful creatures, but carry a wallop if they spray. Their scent is unmistakable and hard to remove once it’s on anything or anyone. But skunks only spray when they are startled or out of defense of being threatened. Dogs are particularly curious and will come up on just about any animal, unfortunately skunks, too.

Skunks have scent glands in the anal sacs located on each side of the rectum. They can spray these oils outward and onto whatever is around them. The reasons for the noxious odor is that the oils contain sulfur based chemicals, like thiols or mercaptans.

What to Do if Your Pet Gets Skunked

If your pet gets skunked, the natural reaction is to take them home and give them a bath. That’s not a great option as the oils will get onto the tub and in the home, and make it fairly impossible to rid your abode of the stink. 


  1. Leave your pet in the backyard or in a sheltered, secure outdoor area. 
  2. Take your pet’s cleaning supplies to them. There are a few options for good odor removal. Yes, the tomato juice bath does work, but that would require a lot of cans. Other options are over the counter deskunk shampoos or you can use 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap.
  3. Cover yourself with old towels and gloves to use as you wash your pet. 
  4. Do not wet your dog before applying the solution. Scrub, leave the solution on for 20 minutes, rinse, and repeat until the odor is gone.
  5. Check for injuries by looking at your pet’s eyes. If they are red, rinse them with clean water. Inspect their torso to see if they received any scratches or bites. Skunks carry disease, including rabies, so you will need to seek veterinary care right away if your pet was injured by a skunk.

Throw away old towels and gloves when you are done to avoid bringing any oils into the home.

Time for Something Good

After the ordeal, your pet probably isn’t feeling their best or happiest. Would you? Plan on spending some time with your furry pal by playing a game and giving them some treats for their enjoyment. 

If your pet has never been skunked, the good news is that you can keep it that by keeping your pet on a leash or tie-out when you are roaming in wild nature. For more information on deskunking pets or to schedule an appointment, please call us!