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Just as the weekend began, a skunk sprayed my dog. The five minutes that followed that event could have been written into any comedy you’ve seen in the theater. However, when it happens to you, it’s less funny and more irritating than anything else. In short, the dog bolted in the house full of skunk spray and proceeded to rub and shake it all over the house before I could catch him. It was great.

So let’s just pretend for a minute that you’re standing in your living room with a wailing dog in the laundry room full of skunk smell, a screaming baby in the bedroom, and a second howling dog in the kitchen who is just making noise because everyone else is making noise. The damage is now done. It’s time to start fixing what has obviously gone horribly wrong.

The first step is to make sure everyone is okay. In my case the baby and second dog were just yelling to yell, and because it smelled bad. Talat, on the other hand, had real problems. Skunk spray will bond to any fibrous surface like hair (which dogs have a lot of) quickly. So it’s very important to get as much off as fast as you can. He got hit square in the face at what must have been point blank, because his entire muzzle was yellow and his eyes were matted shut.

It hurt like hell, I’m sure, and the spray can temporarily blind dogs and people, so into the tub he went with a bottle of ketchup, a sponge, and pitcher. The trick here is to dilute the spray as much as you can and get it away from his eyes. Then you need to stop it from spreading — hence the tub. Scrub and wash, rotating between shampoo and ketchup until you’ve got the worst of it off. You can also use the formula I will outline in a minute, but it will sting worse than the spray itself if it gets in the eyes.

Once the worst is off the dog and he is safely put in the garage to dry off, it’s time to survey the rest of the damage. Everything in your house will stink badly if even just a little spray winds up in your place. There is a solution you can find on the ‘net that is said to help with the defunking of smells, so I called upon it, hoping its mystic homebrew goodness would save my olfactory senses.

It consists of:

1 gallon water
1 cup baking soda
1 tbsp dish soap
1 qt hydrogen peroxide

Mix it all together, load it into a spray bottle and start hosing your place down. It will not remove all the smell but it will start to give you and your family relief from the stink. Spray effected areas — which is everything — as many times as you think you can handle. It will get better.

Contrary to popular belief, you are not done. Wash the animal in the solution with a sponge to get the rest of the smell out of his furry coat. It works great on dog hair, and Talat was the best-smelling thing in the whole house after his second bath.

You should at least be able to sleep in the house the first night at this point. Most likely 70 percent of the smell is gone and everyone is no longer gagging if they enter the house. The next morning (or that same day if it happens early enough), get a hold of a steam cleaner and go to town. Clean everything you can with it.

Next sprinkle baking soda all over the carpeted areas, fabric covered furniture etc., and let it sit for about a half hour. Then grab a vacuum and pull it all back up.

If it’s at all possible, open the windows to get some fresh air coming through the house. It will help as much as anything else. Smaller things like changing the furnace filter and washing all your clothes will also assist in the exodus of funk.

Three days later I can say the house is mostly good to go. There is a faint smell if you know where to stand, but the harshness is gone. Repeated attempts at the steps above will also continue to clear what remains. Time will eventually clear the rest of the horrid order from its places of hiding, but don’t expect wine and roses immediately.

[Note:] The best solution by far would be to keep the damn dog away from skunks.


20 Responses to Tale of Infamy: Skunk Funk

  1. Whoa – holy crap! Glad to see you got everything (mostly) back to normal.

    The same thing happened to my family when I was 8 or 9 – our dog got a face full of spray and decided the best place to go howling and shaking it all over was inside the house. My dad got stuck with the cleanup while my mom took us kids to stay with a relative. I’d say it was a good two weeks before the smell completely went away.

    Sounds like your solutions will take care of business a lot faster. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Jerry says:

    Or……print out the above story/instructions, post it boldy in plain sight so others in the household have to see it. When the skunk issue arises, others will know how to do it. You? You were first to notice, said nothing and immediately disappeared into the shop where the noise of machinery blocks out shouts from others.
    Of course, if you do not have a dog, ignore the above unless you just like skunk trivia posted somewhere in your home.

  3. DeadGuy says:

    My first thought was sheer horror, then I laughed, now I just feel badly for you. That had to be one sucky weekend. Sounds like you got it under control though. Manly-man hero – good job.

  4. Sean O'Hara says:

    @Jerry You know it’s funny. Everyone – wife, child, dogs and family – everyone, just stares at you waiting for you to fix it then bolts for the hills when something like this happens.

    I suppose that’s when you know for sure you are now “Dad – cleaner of dirty things and fixer of objects broken.”

  5. Mike says:

    Ah yes.

    The wise dog owner learns to sniff the wind *before* letting the dog in house 🙂

    Your de-skunk formula is the best we’ve found by far… we keep a large supply on hand (135# dog).

    A cautionary tail 🙂

  6. Sean says:

    And having been sprayed, my dog bolted for her sure refuge from all things terrifying… My sister’s bed.

    If you have a Dawn foamer, use it to surface shampoo the skunk oil off with a damp rag. Don’t rub it in or the skunk oil goes deeper into the coat. Once you’ve got the majority off, then go for the deep cleansing shampoo.

    The whiffs of burnt rubber last for about two weeks. The stuff’s pretty tenacious, no matter what you do.

  7. Chris says:

    Natures Miracle skunk odor remover works great. Its got some special enzymes in it that get rid of the smell, works as advertised. We keep a bottle on hand just incase the dog gets sprayed.. happens every other year it seems.

  8. Marco says:

    The best thing to get rid of skunk smell is Olympic Arms M4 with .223 varmint loads and a red dot sight.
    Skunks can give your dog much worst than a bad smell.
    I’m not trying to be unduly cruel or callous, I find skunks pretty cute animals, per se. But they can bite and infect your loved pets with rabies.
    A skunk will spray 9 times out of 10, but if cornered (or infected) it can bite.
    Italy (where I live) was once rabies free, but now thanks to “illegal immigrants” (mainly foxes) from the eastern Europe, it’s come back in northeastern regions.
    We had foxes in the garden of our country home, and I tolerated them. Now, if I ever see one, it will end up in a plastic bag to the local vet for analysis and then the incinerator.
    Better keep wildlife were it belongs to: in the wild. Mother nature is not a loving mom, she’s a bitch.

  9. browndog77 says:

    Your solution is very close to what I have been using for years, which I think I got from a link on the AKC website. One warning needs to be added, though. Try to keep this solution out of the dog’s eyes. The combination of peroxide & baking soda is caustic. Work it away from the brow & rinse thoroughly! This stuff is way better than the old tomato juice bath!

  10. Vincent says:

    Man, I have been there so many times with 2 different dogs. I use a product called Skunk Away. It works pretty good. It takes months for their coat to stop have a hint of skunk. The 2 dogs are northern bread dogs with really thick coats. If you have a more thin haired dog, good for you. The thicker the coat, the harder it is to get rid of it.

  11. Vincent says:

    The product that @Chris linked to above is actually the product I was referring to.

  12. Chris says:

    Marco, I dunno about you Italians, but instead of shooting all our wildlife here in the US, we just vaccinate our dogs against rabies (and a host of other things).

    I made the mistake of shooting a skunk — which hadn’t sprayed anything, as far as I know — once. Shooting it caused it to lose control of its scent glands as it died, which did a wonderful job of stinking up the neighbourhood. Note to self: don’t do that again.


  13. Marco says:

    Obviously the vaccine is necessary, and in the long run is the only way to defeat (or at least severely reduce the threat), but rabies is just the most obvious risk: there are many more.
    And there’s the risk for people as well.
    Again, I don’t want to be unduly cruel, and I’d rather not shoot anything, and I’d rather scare them off, but if I have to choose between some poor sod of a critter with unknown health and my pets, that’s an easy choice. We have a wire mesh fence, but you know, there’s always a hole here and there, especially in a boar-rich area like the one mentioned. 🙂

  14. Marco says:

    PS: we haven’t had rabies in Italy for decades, and it’s just resurfacing. Most pets aren’t vaccinated, and unfortunately a lot of people either don’t even know it and believe they are still safe, or don’t believe it’s such a risk that it needs a vaccine.
    Let’s just hope it ends in the North East, where they are doing a good job of campaigning for caution and vaccine.

  15. Geoff says:

    @Marco: The problem is that “the wild” is everywhere, including our own backyards. It’s we humans who have moved into the territories of these wild animals, and we have to live with the consequences. I try to make the yard less “interesting” to critters like skunks. Sure, we have a vegetable garden, but we keep the compost and garbage covered, and the yard fenced well enough to keep our Corgi and his Jack Russell buddy from exiting the yard. We have some skunks in the area, but they usually leave us alone (knock wood). The dog is rarely outside unattended, and as Mike said above, I like to check the breeze before just letting the four-legged family members stroll — or run like heck — into the house. It helps to check their paws for “foreign matter” too…

  16. Chris says:

    Geoff: I didn’t want to open up that can of worms 😉 While there’s certainly some truth in the idea that we’re moving into “their” territory*, a lot of the animals we consider to be “pests” are those that happen to be very good at living with humans. Raccoons and skunks are two great examples of animals that actually thrive on human activity — you can’t beat a nearly unlimited food source that merely has a lightweight cover lying on top of it — and while we often think of them as being “wild” animals from “out there in the country”, animals such as these so well-adapted to the niche we create that their populations are increasing.

    Coyotes, deer, opossums, squirrels, and several species of birds also fit this description pretty well. The city of Chicago has been heavily developed for well over a hundred years, more than long enough extirpate any less-adapted animals, yet there have been coyotes running around downtown.

    * The people who build McMansions out in the distant suburbs where there used to be nothing but farmland or forest, and who then complain about deer eating their gardens, are the people who drive me REALLY crazy.


  17. Jim K. says:

    Even though I don’t have a dog I can unfortunately relate all too well to this. About 2 years ago a skunk found its way into a crawl space in our house and (though I have no idea why) decided to spray. I woke up to the delightful smell and couldn’t locate the dang source. Took 3 weeks before I could sufficiently get that scent out of there. Uggh… Still cringe at the thought.

  18. Marco says:

    @Geoof: animal move all the time. We have to stop thinking along the lines “us” and “the environment” as two different things. I’m “the environment”, and I’m a dangerous one, if you are an unwanted fox. It’s the only way. What I mean is that, as Chris said, more and more animals get adapted to a life of scrounging around us. In the process, they grow in a disproportionate way, catch, carry and spread diseases, and result generically harmful to us, ur pets and their own species. All because in a misplaced sense of “nature” we, as a culture, refuse to take the steps to “select” the individuals that show a behaviour that is certainly good for the single, in the short run, but devastating to the species in the long run.
    In Milano we had pigeons. They breeded and multiplied. They were considered “cute” by tourists. Until they started breeding too much, multiplying too much, catching and spreading diseases untile citizens called them “rats with feathers”. All along, local “green” politicians blocked every decree that would see the population reduced. Until it went so bad they started damaging monuments and there wasn’t a statue who wasn’t covered in pigeon poo. Then common sense took over and the problem was solved.
    We still have some, they are far healthier and, all in all, situation got better for the city, the citizens and the pigeon as a species as well.

  19. Topgun says:

    Poor Talat! Glad he turned out okay and non-stinky (after awhile anyway)

    That’s got to be one smug SOB skunk walking around now, bragging to his bros:

    “Yeah! Not only did I get the dog, I got the LIVING ROOM!”

    *high fives all around skunkville*

  20. rick says:

    viniger ie acid. skunks smell is basic . Rusty butt the bad dog has killed 4 skunks so far. sees em kills em no stop to him i keep a 1 qt hand sprayer 5 – 10 minutes pastic/dish gloves work it in baby soap wash it off 2 times a day 2-3 days smell gone. unless it rains wet dog with slight skunk smell.

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