Dogs are nosy creatures, and skunks seem to be a personal favorite for most dogs to try to greet or attack. Unfortunately for the dog, she usually gets the short end of the stick in the encounter. If your dog has tangled with a skunk, you'll know it. In fact, your entire neighborhood will know it. Whatever you do, do not let the dog inside the house, unless you wrap her up in a sheet that you can dispose of afterward. In this case, bathing the dog outside wouldn't be a bad thing, at least for the first bath. Plan on getting rid of your clothing, because you will never be able to salvage skunked clothing. If your dog has a collar on, toss it out as well.
Most dogs usually get sprayed right between the eyes — amazing that a skunk has such great aim considering the dog is behind them. If your dog is lucky, the spray won't get into his eyes. Skunk spray burns the eyes and blinds the dog temporarily. Eyes will need to be flushed with plenty of water to help the dog. Skunk spray is oily and has serious staying power!
The first thing you must do is get rid of the skunk oil. A degreasing shampoo or Dawn® dish soap is good for this. There are many old wives tales on how to deskunk a dog. Most involve tomato juice. While tomato juice is acidic and has some merit, you'd have to have a fifty-five-gallon vat of the stuff to do any good.
You can find commercial deskunking products in pet stores if you have time to run and get some, but this is a trusted home remedy.
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available from your local drug store)
¼ cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon of Dawn®
Mix the ingredients in an open bucket or container; be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from the chemicals as well as from the skunk oil.
Bathe the animal in this mixture and let it sit on the dog for at least five to ten minutes, then rinse well with water. Repeat if necessary.
If your dog was sprayed in the face, you will have to be careful when using this mixture on the face so you don't get it into her eyes. If you do, flush the eyes immediately with plenty of water for several minutes. Apply the mixture carefully to the dog's face with a washcloth or toothbrush.
You need to use the mixture right away after making it, as it will not work if it is stored for any length of time. This recipe releases oxygen gas and can explode if it's contained. This mixture can also bleach the pet's hair because it contains hydrogen peroxide.
What Else You Can Try
After shampooing the dog, you can create an effective rinse with equal parts water and white or cider vinegar or several packages of Massengil® Douche. This helps with the residual odor. You will probably not be able to get rid of the odor entirely, but you will lessen it greatly. Expect to smell it faintly any time the dog gets wet until it wears off completely.
If your dog managed to actually get close to the skunk and attack it, he may end up with a mouthful of skunk oil. There is not enough mouthwash in the world to eliminate this odor. You can take care of the skunk smell on the hair and skin of the dog, but if it's in his mouth, you have an entirely different dilemma. Brushing your dog's teeth may help a bit — you can use a tiny bit of peroxide on the toothbrush to help rid the mouth of odors, but peroxide may make your dog vomit if he swallows it or if you use too much.