A tan puppy on a blue leash is laying in the grass

How to Get Skunk Smell Off Dogs

Steps to Get Skunk Smell Off a Dog

  1. Keep Your Dog Outside
  2. Wash With Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo
  3. Follow Up With Fresh Wave Pet Spray 

Every fall, an unmistakable funk fills the air as skunks search for cozy winter spots for hibernation. More activity means more encounters with domesticated wildlife, especially your curious canine. And when your pup goes in for a sniff, they usually get a face-full.

Those tomato juice baths? Usually, just leave fido smelling like sour soup. How about a safe solution that actually works? Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo, made from plant-based deodorizers, is the ideal remedy. Plus, Fresh Wave Pet Odor Removing Spray absorbs any lingering smells.

Read on for tips to get the skunk smell off a dog using products with natural ingredients.

Why Does Skunk Spray Smell? 

Skunk smell is uniquely pungent and immediately recognizable. But why does skunk spray have such a distinct smell? And why does it linger for such a long time after the animal has sprayed?

One of the main reasons removing skunk smell is so difficult is because skunk spray is made up of thiols, a class of organic compounds that contains a sulfur atom. The presence of a sulfur atom, in place of an oxygen atom, is part of the aromatic makeup that makes odors like skunk smell, and the smell of cut onions, particularly nose-curling.

Why Does Skunk Spray Linger?

While skunk spray’s distinct odor comes from organic components, the lingering effects actually come from the mammal’s biology. Contrary to popular belief, skunks don’t use their spray in territorial or mating disputes with one another. That’s because spraying is reserved for predators only and is often a skunk’s last-ditch effort to evade danger.

The reason skunks go to lengths to reserve their spray is that it takes up to 10 days to replenish. This places the animal in serious danger for a considerable amount of time, so the lingering effects of skunk smell act as an interstitial defense mechanism and warning to predators that can detect the smell up to half a mile away.

Getting Skunk Smell off a Dog if It Gets Sprayed

Now to the problem of how to get skunk smell off dogs if the two animals cross paths. Because dogs have become desensitized to some animal cues in nature due to decades of domestication, dogs getting sprayed by skunks is all too common. 

If your dog encounters a skunk and starts barking or sniffing the animal in spite of its cues to back away, there’s a good chance it’ll get sprayed. Luckily, there are some things you can do immediately to remove skunk smell and prevent it from lingering in your home.

1. Keep Your Dog Outside

The only thing worse than the smell of skunk on the dog is the smell of skunk in the house. If your dog is sprayed, leave him or her outside while you prepare your skunk odor eliminating solution. Until you clean the oil off your dog’s fur, anything your dog touches or comes into contact with will absorb the odor.

2. Wash Your Dog with Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo

While your dog is outside, wash them with Fresh Wave Odor Removing Dog Shampoo. Its lemongrass oil and coconut-derived cleaning agents safely and effectively cleanse away skunk spray smell.

Many dog shampoos are effective at getting rid of everyday, dirty dog odors, but not every shampoo is proven against the smell of skunks. Pet expert Steve Dale, CABC (Certified Animal Behavior Consultant) and author of Decoding Your Dog, recommends Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo to eliminate odors from skunk spray.

“Your best bet [is] Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo. It’s natural and actually zaps odors rather than masking them with another scent.

Steve Dale, pet expert and author of Decoding Your Dog

How to Use Fresh Wave Dog Shampoo

  • Wet your dog’s fur with a hose.
  • Squeeze a small amount of shampoo into your hands.
  • Work the solution through your dog’s fur, lathering and massaging thoroughly while being careful around the mouth and eyes.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Repeat these steps as many times as needed until the odor is completely washed away.

After washing, you may want to follow up with a second bath inside your bathroom tub.

3. Spray Away Any Lingering Skunk Odors

If any skunk spray odors make their way inside, use an extra-strength odor eliminator, like Fresh Wave. From getting rid of couch odor to removing pet smells from carpets, a little Fresh Wave Pet Spray can go a long way. 

Fresh Wave Pet Spray is infused with orange oil and other powerful natural deodorizing plant oils. This blend absorbs and neutralizes the worst odors (including skunk spray) from surfaces and the air. It doesn’t mask smells like traditional air fresheners.

While we don’t recommend spraying our powerful odor-eliminating solution directly on your pet, give your back porch or mudroom a good spritz if it gets exposed to odors.