Cleaning solution for dogs sprayed by skunk

This stinker fears no fruit. [CREDIT:SIR FROG]

Dogs and Skunks don’t mix well. Our dog has been sprayed a few times by skunks and still hasn’t learned to stay away! The first time she was sprayed right in the face, on leash, with myself six feet away. It happened VERY quickly – One second, our dog was looking for the perfect bathroom spot by a large tree. The next second, a black cat appeared by the trunk of the same tree. Second three was filled with a dog bark as I pulled the leash and started moving away from the tree (attempting to avoid a dog / cat encounter). Second four was filled with the over powering smell of skunk spray and noticing the black cat had a white stripe going down it’s back (“That’s odd?”). Second five was the “Skunk!” moment followed by moving to a safe distance as the skunk claimly waddled away. I didn’t know skunks waddled, they do, laughing as they move.

The smell is overwhelming, eyes burning, it’s difficult to breath. Make no mistake, a skunk doesn’t have much to be concerned about given their protection system.

The best action after being sprayed is to move in the opposite direction of the skunk as quickly as possible. Remain outdoors to avoid inside contamination with skunk spray.

DO NOT RINSE with WATER or SOAP & WATER! Skunk Spray can not be removed with WATER or SOAP & WATER. EXCEPTION: EYES can be rinsed with water if directly sprayed.

The follow cleaning solution is what I’ve found works best to clean the dog and impacted areas soon after exposure. It removes most, if not all of the smell rapidly. Not for use in eyes!

Required Items (keep these items on hand when in an area with skunks):

  • Disposable latex gloves
  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp dawn liquid dish soap
  • Empty 2 quart spray bottle

Mixing the ingredient in the spray bottle:

  • Add 1/3 cup of baking soda into the spray bottle
  • Add 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap
  • SLOWLY add 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide into the spray bottle
  • Secure the spray head on spray bottle
  • Gently shake the spray bottle to mix cleaning solution, this will cause some foaming in the bottle

Clean your dog as soon as possible:

  • Select an outside area with easy access to a water source with hose.
  • DO NOT WET THE DOG WITH WATER prior to applying and scrubbing with the cleaning solution.
  • Wearing disposable latex gloves, cover your dogs eyes with one hand while spaying the dog from head to toe with the cleaning solution (avoid eyes)
  • Scrub cleaning solution into dogs coat from head to toe, the dog should be completely wet and soapy
  • Rinse the cleaning solution from the dog coat using the water source and hose

FYI – The cleaning solution can also be used to clean the area where the dog was sprayed by the skunk.

Anything not cleaned, that should have been cleaned, will smell like skunk spray for at least a week.

Contrary to folklore, using tomato sauce or juice won’t wash away the Skunk spray stench. You are simply wasting good Tomato sause or juice. It does not eliminate the spray chemicals.

Skunks have two glands in the rear. These glands produce the spray, which is a mixture of sulfur containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive odor. The odor which is described as a combination of rotten eggs, garlic, and burnt rubber is powerful enough to ward off bears. Skunks can spray these secretions 7 to 15 ft (2 to 5 meters) with highly accurate aim. The extreme odor can cause nausea and vomiting, as well as watery, burning, eyes and itching. A direct hit to the eyes has been known to cause temporary blindness. Internal absorption of the spray can occur via inhalation or absorption through eyes or mouth. In rare instances a toxic reaction can cause anemia, or serious damage to red blood cells. Skunk spray has been used as a biological weapon but is not poisonous.

The Chemical Make-up of Skunk Spray

The spray contains seven major volatile components: three major thiols, three major thioacetates, and a methylquinoline. These are divided into thiols and acetate derivatives of the thiols. Two of these thiols, (E)-2-butene-1-thiol and 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, are responsible for the repellent odor. These two thiols constitute 51% to 70% of the spray.

The thioacetates are not as initially odiferous on contact but are converted to more potent thiols with the addition of water. This chemical reaction explains why animals continue to smell skunky if the person doing the cleaning starts with water. DO NOT CLEAN FIRST WITH WATER. Thioacetates trapped in fur continue to release thiols under damp conditions. The goal is to convert thiols into nonodorous compounds. Thiols are not water-soluble, even with soap. A baking soda and peroxide mixture will oxidize thiols into water, soluble sulfonates. The final component is an alkaloid 2-methylquinoline, which is not as volatile as the thiols and has a nitrogenous base.


A dog being sprayed by a skunk is best avoided. Sometimes paths cross and skunks will spray while slowly walking away.

One would assume that both Dog and Skunk would avoid any new encounters after the first meeting, but that has not been my experience.

I’ve heard skunks do not want to spray and offer warnings, I’ve not seen anything but a quick raise tail, aim and spray.

Skunks appear to have no fear of dogs. They will spray a dog and claimly, slowly exit stage left.

All dogs I know hate being sprayed by skunks but can’t seem to avoid barking at a skunk within spray range.

Perhaps, thinking the skunk will run in fear this time. Skunks do not run from anything.

The cleaning solution & process has reduced the impact on our dog and spray site. I hope you never need this post.