The skunk: an easily identifiable, cute, black-and-white animal (also known as polecats by some) with a nasty spray. Here at Greenbrier we receive numerous calls from clients about what to do when they find a skunk on their property, or when their pet (usually a dog) has been sprayed in the face.

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Luckily the majority of skunk-sprayed animals will be fine, except for having a potent smell for days or even more than a week. After being sprayed, most pets will act as if they have been blinded and will have increased tear production and often a generalized red color to the eyes. Often a pet in this condition will paw at its face and nose. The best first step to treatment is rinsing the pet’s eyes with saline solution — the same solution used for contact lenses.

The next thing to do is attempt “de-skunk” the smell of your pet. Despite many rumors, tomato juice DOES NOT do the trick, and using this method will merely leave you with an animal that smells like both skunk and tomato juice. The best thing to use is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap or dish detergent, with the following recipe:

1 quart of hydrogen peroxide1/4 cup baking soda1 teaspoon of liquid soap or dish detergent

Mix the three ingredients and apply liberally while washing your dog, then rinse with fresh water. You can repeat the washing several times and let the solution sit on the dog for 5-10 minutes each time. Unfortunately, the mixture is not stable once it is combined, so you will need to make a new solution each day you apply it. Be very careful to avoid getting the solution in your pet’s eyes, and try to keep your pet from drinking it (although drinking it will only upset his/her stomach, but likely will not do any real harm).

If you think there is any chance the skunk could have bitten your pet (especially if your pet killed the skunk), we recommend a rabies booster vaccine. Rabies is not spread through the spray, but generally only through saliva and blood. Your daytime vet can boost your pet’s rabies vaccine if you are concerned, as this is not generally an emergency.

Skunks are most active at night and move slowly. They are attracted to outside pet food bowls (just like raccoons and opossums), open garbage containers, and unsealed compost piles — so try to get rid of these kinds of attractions or protect/cover them, if possible. If you let your pet outside at night, use a leash if you suspect a skunk is on your property. Skunks usually try to give plenty of warning prior to spraying, so if you see one outside or startle one during a walk, you may have time to get away prior to being sprayed. Even baby skunks as young as 8 days can spray, so avoid the impulse to get too close, regardless of how cute they may seem. Skunks are active most of the year, but usually more so in the warmer months. While not true hibernators, they can go through a dormant stage for several weeks during cold weather.

A condition known as skunk toxic shock syndrome, which is VERY rare, occurs when some of the compounds in a skunk’s spray (thioacetates) destroy a pet’s healthy red blood cells. An animal experiencing this syndrome initially presents with weakness and pale gums and progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and anemia. While very rare, keep this syndrome in mind if your pet develops these symptoms hours or days after being sprayed, and have him/her examined by your regular veterinarian.

Hopefully this information will prove helpful if your animal is sprayed by a skunk, and it might even save you an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.


Hannah says

October 1, 2016 at 5:43 am

Hi, I have a border terrier that weighs 26 lbs. And has been sprayed by a skunk. We had bathed him twice in dish soap then read about the provide mixture so bathed him again this morning at 4am. He was itching so bad. He is now just hiding under my bed with little whimpers. My husband just went for the Apple cider vinegar and I’m wondering if I should apply this as well? I feel so bad for him any help would be welcomed.

My Toy poodle got sprayed by a skunk last night and I did a regular dog shampoo and conditioner bath and then I did it again and then a bathroom cleaner Lysol bleach that took the smell away good luck now he wont move or anything he sits on the couch just looking out the window no eating or nothing I gave him Pedialyte Pedialyte really helped him he just has no appetite or movement either he’s afraid to go back outside

my puppy got sprayed by a skunk couple days ago now she is lethargic at first I was worried she might have gotten bit by the skunk but now I am.wondering if it could be the rare toxic shock syndrome what do you do for this and what are some of the other symptoms for this.

my dog was bitten by a skunk last night. I heard her make a god awful scream and initially she could not/would not walk on her hind legs. After several minutes she was up and walking again, though gingerly. Took her to the emergency vet. They found nothing abnormal. She just received her three year rabies vaccination. I’m noticing that while she seems to be walking OK, she is hesitant to jump up on bed, needs assistance. Any thoughts?

My dog got bite and sprayed really bad by a skunk this morning. He fought that shrunk like a trooper but is at the point of exhaustion. He’s weak, tail drooped down. Laying around. He has drank some water but is now throwing it up. that was about 8:30. He is walking around some but is extremely weak. What do I do??

My dog just chased a skunk and ripped it in half…. first time I’ve ever seen her get so aggressive. She ripped the skunks tail right off and immediately started foaming at the month and I honest don’t think she’s ever had rabie shots.. should I be concerned.

We recently left our border collie -jack russell 4 yr old male dog out for the weekend at our farm. We noticed when we returned the dog smelled like it was slightly sprayed by a skunk scent. Were not sure if he was sprayed or bit since we were not home. He was acting hyper, but is a hyper dog anyway. He did throw up some mucus saliva like stuff this morning and seemed fine. I really don’t notice anything tremendously different about him other than a smell of a slightly. I don’t see any foam or change in his mouth area and is due for his current rabies. Should I be concerned at all?

Hard to evaluate from afar but if he smells like a skunk then you need to bath him as the smell can really irritated his mucous membranes and make him sick. Watch him after the good bath and see if he gets better and if not then take him to a vet.

My dog got sprayed mostly in her mouth and face, cleaned up really good and doesn’t smell any more but the next day had I think an abscess on her back around what looked like a puncture wound. I drained it of pus and it smelled like skunk. Cleaned it out and put peroxide on it. Seems to be ok but not sure if she was bitten or clawed or if this is something that happens when they ingest skunk spray?

I have two Pitbulls and I let them out for their last bathroom break. I think my female dog killed the skunk because she had blood under her mouth and chest, she was not foaming and was pretty calm. I also think she may be pregnant, what can be some concerns for this situation. Thanks for any suggestions.

My dog was skunked this morning. About 5 minutes after she was sprayed the skunk ran out of the bushes right towards her. She grabbed it, shook it and killed it. I was horrified as she has never been aggressive before. We buried the skunk. Our dog is up to date on her rabies vaccine and we did not see the skunk bite her – should we be worried about rabies?

My Havenese was sprayed directly in his face, he was foaming at the mouth and it affected his eyes which we immediately rinsed both eyes and mouth with water, problem is two weeks later he’s continuously throughout the day throwing his head upwards for no apparent reason it almost seems involuntary. I’m concerned it could be seizures but it’s not affecting anywhere else on his body, his eating and temperament is normal Is this a symptom of seizures or skunk spray? Thank you

Hi- we were taking our dog for a walk in a local park and she ran down near a water canal. When she didn’t come up right away we began calling her and we saw that she was wrestling something, though couldn’t see what (she was in tall weeds). We didn’t hear either of them make any sounds but then smelled what we are assuming is a skunk. When the dog came up she had blood in her mouth and reeked awfully. We couldn’t see what she had been wrestling with, assuming it was a skunk. Is there any way to confirm or anything more dangerous we should be concerned it was?

My dog got sprayed by skunk,he is hard headed,shepherd mix,will he learn and avoid the skunk next time or try and chase him off Again?

My dog has a healing hot spot on its neck and was sprayed by a skunk will that affect the hot spot? It’s mainly just scabs. And I’m not sure if she got bit but she did kill it.

My pitt was sprayed in the face less than a week ago, did all the washing, her body smells fine but I think she inhaled some spray because her breath sometimes still stinks of skunk. She also recently been very anxious and drooling much more always wants to be right next to you and can’t stop fidgeting. This isn’t normal behavior and she is up to date on all shots and wasn’t injured by the skunk at all other than the spray. Ever had dogs with these symptoms after being sprayed?

My dog got sprayed by a skunk 10 days ago. Half of his face was wet and after two bath it still smelled skunk bit only when he opened is mouth. Two days ago my dog had 2 seizures crisis lasting 45 seconds each 12 hours apart. Recovering time approx 30 minute from seizure to normal state. Went to see the vet everything was fine except creatinine and uree was high. Adsm was ok so kidney where fine before the even. I wonder if the skunk might have caused the seizure 4 y.o dog good health before that. Is there something else we should do ?

My dog was sprayed in the face by a skunk two nights ago, we rinsed her eyes and bathed her immediately. Her gums are kind of pale, but she’s acting fine and eating/drinking like normal.

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My dog got sprayed by a skunk and is really shaky when standing.. he eats and drinks perfectly fine and lays down fine just when he stands he is shaking like crazy?

My dog got sprayed by a skunk last night, she seems fine but, I’ve heard that skunk spray can be toxic, should I take her to the vet? (Ps I’ve looked at the symptoms and she has none but I’m still nervous)

Hello, on Tuesday after work, while cleaning the kennel, I came across a dead skunk. I could also smell it on both dogs. We have a Sheppard and a Sheppard husky mix.

The kennel is fenced off pretty well so I’m assuming it snuck in somehow at night and they got a hold of him and killed him as he wasn’t able to escape.

Started looking things up and am now worried if they are at high risk for contracting rabies from this encounter? Local health department has never found any rabid skunks in our area but did come across a couple rabid bats last year. I happened to see another skunk last night when I got home and it didn’t seem rabid at all. It saw me and took off right away.

They are both overdue on shots. One by 3 years and the other by about 4 or 5 years. We have an appointment tomorrow to get them current.

Should we be worried about them contracting rabies from this exposure and will them having been vaccinated before, offer some protection, even if it’s been years?

Thank you!

My dog got sprayed by a skunk and received several baths but still smells. I know this is normal and she will mostly likely be smelly for awhile. I was just wondering if the smell is still transferable to furniture, pet beds, clothes, etc?

The very best antidote I have found,with numerous incidents, is Oxy Clean solution. With my large dog I mix a full cup, as provided in the Oxyclean container, in a 5 gallon pail and warm water and using a two cup measure pour it over the dog as I massage it into his fur. It is amazing stuff as it knocks the smell down very rapidly. When the pail is empty it is followed up with a bath.

My dog got sprayed on thursday night,we washed him and he’s fine that wayHowever he is vomiting yellow fluid and he won’t eat, he will drink but not eat.His energy level seems fine, gums are a healthy pink eyes are fine is there something I’m missing