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Skunked! What to do When Your Dog Gets Sprayed

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher, a freelance writer, and an avid recycler.

Isabelle and Penelope

Isabelle and Penelope

Country Dogs Versus City Dogs

After moving out to the country from the suburbs, I learned that the country dog lives a different life.

If you have dogs and live in the country, there is a good chance that someday what happened to me might happen to you. It can also happen if you like to take your dogs out on camping and hiking trips and let them run off-leash.

If your dogs are trained to obey voice commands and stay close by you (which is easy if you give them all your love), there is nothing more enjoyable for your dog and you than letting them run free for a short time in the fields and woods, back where there are no roads or traffic to pose a danger.

A Close Encounter of the Stinky Kind

It was an unseasonably warm, sunny late winter day. My daughter, her daughters, and her dog were over for a visit. We decided to take the three of them on a walk with us in the wilderness behind my home. Bobbejaan, the four-legged grandson, and my two girls Penny and Bellie started out. It was my birthday, and I had my two-legged and four-legged loved ones with me. Life was good.

A beautiful walk at any time, winter is best for a distant view of part of the Appalachian Mountains, as the trees are bare.

The distant Blue Ridge Mountains

The distant Blue Ridge Mountains

Paths, trails, old roads, woods…there is much to explore for hikers and their dogs behind my house. It was the first time we had ventured that far since I had moved out to the country.


It was the beckon of what appeared to be an old slave cabin that sits on an abandoned southern plantation that made us trudge through the field above to get a closer look.

Old Slave Cabin

Old Slave Cabin

After a good close-up look of the old cabin, we turned to start for home. It was while walking back through the field when dog number one was “skunked.” Moving to the country first, my daughter had heard about washing the dog in tomato juice or tomato sauce. I had a big can of tomato sauce in the cupboard for making veggie chili. It was, after all, winter. So much for veggie chili.


We washed Bobbejaan from head to tail with tomato sauce. We threw in a little baking soda, too along with Dawn dish detergent. The combination of acid and alkaline seemed to work.

Be careful not to get the tomato sauce in their eyes. Poor Bobbejaan!


Skunked Again!

All was well in the country. No matter what anyone claims on-line, the tomato sauce and baking soda worked. Incident forgotten. Life went on. Then Murphy’s law kicked in early the next Monday morning. My black Lab Bella went out to “potty” before Mommy left for work. Pepe Le Pew was close by home and Bellie just had to check him out.

This time, there was no time for a bath in tomato sauce. It was not a lovely, unseasonably warm Saturday. It was a chilly, back to reality manic Monday. I had to leave Bella in the house and head for work.

While I knew it probably was not the best solution, did I really have a choice?

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Gosh, yes! If I had known, I would have called in with any number of excuses not to show up on the job. …car got stolen, house on fire, you name it. I just didn’t know. And I would never dream of leaving the house with the dogs not inside.

Removing Skunk Odor from House and Clothes

Removing skunk spray from the house is no easy task. Although the house did not get sprayed directly by the skunk, the odor that my dog brought in and rubbed against the carpet and furniture was atrocious. It called for action. There are skunk odor neutralizers available online. There was no time for that. Home remedies to remove skunk odor would have to do.

Home Remedies for Removing Skunk Odor

I am sure that should an actual skunk get into your house that the treatment might be more intense. But I can’t imagine any worse smell than what Bella brought in that day. Problem was, I HAD to get to work, or so I thought. During the day, I was able to grab a few minutes to do some research. The tomato sauce remedy had about a 50/50 approval rate.

Other suggestions included a combination of apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Still another remedy was hydrogen peroxide and baking soda with a little Dawn.

Following is a combination of the home remedies for skunk odor removal that worked for us.


  • Do not let the dog in. Rub her down with fabric softener sheets.
  • Give a bath in tomato sauce or juice and baking soda and Dawn.
  • Try hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and Dawn . Use a cup of peroxide to each quarter cup baking soda and a teaspoon of Dawn.
  • Bath in one cup each of apple cider vinegar and baking soda.

I found that the tomato sauce works very well IF you wash the dog right away. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda work fairly well. I had the best luck with the apple cider vinegar and baking soda remedy for washing the odor off of Belle. But I will have to go with a tomato sauce bath, done immediately, as the most effective

Products for DIY De-skunking.

Products for DIY De-skunking.


  • Wash everything washable in the washing machine with one cup each of baking soda and apple cider vinegar
  • Line-dry the laundry outdoors, preferably on a cool, sunny and breezy day.
  • Sit anything not washable outside to air.
  • Spray carpets, drapes and furniture with a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda.
  • Vacuum carpet with a pet odor neutralizing vacuum cleaner bag.
  • Spray carpet, drapes and furniture with Febreeze. Squirt the dog too!
  • Give a final spritz of rosemary-lemon water (recipe below).
  • Tape fabric softener sheets over the dryer vents.
  • *Make dried rosemary-lemon sachets for drawers, closets.
  • Place fabric softener sheets over coat hangers all through the closets.
  • Open doors and windows to air out as much as possible.

I didn’t try to wash everything in the same day. I bagged up clothing, stuffed animals. cushions, bedding…anything that was machine washable in black plastic trash bags.

Wait until a sunny, breezy cool day and wash “first needed items first.” Wash in COLD weather and LINE DRY, as heat reactivates the smell.

Toss fabric softener dryer sheets in the bags. As your clothes, etc. get washed and dried, tie them up in black trash bags until the smell in the carpet, drapes, etc dies down.

Rosemary-lemon Water

  1. Grate zest from a lemon
  2. Chop up 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary ( use dried if you have no rosemary bush)
  3. Add to two cups of water.
  4. Bring to a bowl. simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Cool. pour into a sprayer bottle.

Rosemary and Lemon Zest

Rosemary and Lemon Zest

Lemon-Rosemary Sachets

Use the dried lemon-rosemary mixture to make sachets in little net bags. Toss them around everywhere. Skunk spray is an oily substance, and the lemon-rosemary is oily as well, making it good for combating the skunk smell.

Getting rid of skunk odor is not fun at all. But if you, your dog, or God forbid your house ever gets SKUNKED! I hope this guide for getting rid of that gawd-awful odor helps. And if anyone has TIPS to SHARE please do.

Bobbejaan, the first dog in the story. Doesn’t he clean up well?



Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 03, 2021:

Oh, dear. Thanks for sharing that Peggy!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 02, 2021:

Oh, does this ever bring back memories of growing up as a child in the Wisconsin countryside! A skunk not only sprayed our dogs but walked all around the house and sprayed. The windows were open. You can imagine the rest! Ugh! Lots of my mother's home-canned tomatoes were used.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 02, 2021:

OMG I know! Never again!

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 02, 2021:

Bless their hearts, they seem to be adjusting to country living! Your remedies are helpful for those who will inevitably will find themselves in similar situations. I laughed (sorry) when you said you let the skunked dog in the house and went to work. I would have called in sick. My cat was skunked twice years ago and it was terrible.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 31, 2021:

They clean up well!

Linda Chechar from Arizona on January 30, 2021:

I see your dogs that are cleaned and washed from the skunked spray!

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