What to Do if Your Pet Gets ‘Skunked’
When Skunks Are Out Looking for Love, Look Out!
Here’s something no one loves about February: it’s the start of skunk mating season. From now through the end of summer, your pet has a higher chance of encountering one and getting skunked!
Mating season continues through February and March, with the little skunk babies being born in April and May. When skunks are out looking for love and raising their young, they may also come across a curious cat or dog. Uh-oh.
Warning Signs a Skunk is About to Spray
Skunks don’t spray as a first line of defense. First they display these warning signs:
- Stamping feet
- Raised tail above the back
If your pet (or you!) don’t back off in a hurry after witnessing this display, the skunk will likely spray. Skunk spray is an oil that is secreted from the skunk’s anal glands. This oil’s chemical composition binds with the oils found in skin, fur and hair, which is why it is so persistent. The extreme stink comes from a noxious gas released from the oil.
Skunk spray oil doesn’t distinguish between animals and humans– touching your pet after they’ve been sprayed will likely spread the oil to your skin, hair, and clothing fibers. Plus the odor lingers in the air for a long period of time.
(Not so) Fun Fact: Skunks can hit a target up to 10 feet away with their spray. That’s impressive accuracy!
What to Do if Your Pet Gets Sprayed by a Skunk
So your dog runs to greet you as you step outside, and the smell hits you. Your dog has been skunked! What now?
- Keep your pet outside in a safe place until you can bathe them
- Obtain a shampoo designed to remove skunk oils and smell (like the recipe below)
- Wear gloves and avoid any direct skin contact with your pet
- Thoroughly wet down your pet with water and spray the shampoo generously all over (Keep the shampoo out of your pet’s eyes)
- Work the shampoo deep into your pet’s coat
- Allow the shampoo to soak in for up to 5 minutes
- Rinse and repeat as needed
Skunk Shampoo Recipe
It’s true that there are many skunk shampoos available on the market. But, if your pet is stinky RIGHT NOW, you may be looking for a faster alternative. One of our receptionists shares her homemade “skunk shampoo” recipe that contains common ingredients you may already have at home.
- 1 quart 3% Hydrogen peroxide solution
- 1/4 cup Baking soda
- 2 teaspoons Dawn dish soap
Mix the ingredients together and put into a spray bottle. The shampoo will both neutralize the skunk odor and break down the oils on your pet’s skin and fur.
Homemade skunk shampoo doesn’t keep in storage– the chemical composition becomes dangerously volatile over time. Make it only as needed and dispose of any leftover shampoo.
Another note: hydrogen peroxide has a tendency to lighten fur and hair (ever heard of a peroxide blonde?) If your pet has a dark coat, it might bleach out the fur color. But we think the tradeoff is worth it to relieve your pet from skunk stink.