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What Should I Do If I am Sprayed by a Skunk?

08/31/2016

If you have the unfortunate experience of being sprayed by a skunk, Terminix has the tips to help you.

Photo by: Shutterstock

The good news is that skunks are primarily nocturnal foragers, and you are much less likely to encounter a skunk while the sun is out. The bad news is that skunks have terrible eyesight even in the dark, are extremely wary of any potential predators, and really have only one way to retaliate if they feel they are under attack. This weapon — the oily, sulphuric compounds they spray from their anal glands — have a range of up to fifteen feet.

Again, there’s good news: Skunks almost always give plenty of warning before taking aim and firing. If you find yourself confronted by a skunk stamping its front paws, showing signs of making a forward charge, hissing, raising its tail or twisting its hindquarters around in your direction, back away as slowly and as quietly as you can. Being sprayed by a skunk is no laughing matter. Some victims can find themselves temporarily blinded if sprayed in or near the eyes, and especially aggressive skunks may actually be rabid.

If you are unlucky enough to end up doused in a skunk’s pungent “perfume,” home remedies abound. Tomato juice is probably the most famous of these, and while washing your hair with a jar of spaghetti sauce may make some difference, throwing a can of tomato paste in with your laundry is not exactly going to keep your skunked clothes from being ruined. The acidic content of tomato extracts are effective in breaking down some of the chemicals in skunk musk and are probably the safest option if you have a dog who has learned a hard lesson about skunk anatomy.

Removing skunk smell


However, degreasing solutions of white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda and common dishwashing liquid are more likely to effectively counteract skunk odors. Ratios of these ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, but the Humane Society has tested and approved the following for getting rid of skunk smell on dogs and on you:

  • 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (available over the counter at virtually any drug store)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent


Some pet and veterinary suppliers also stock commercial skunk odor removers. The majority of these products rely upon a non-toxic chemical, Neutroleum Alpha, to neutralize skunk odors. Whatever method you choose, be sure to follow all safety precautions and manufacturer’s recommendations.

And remember: As much as you may want to remove a pesky skunk and its smell from your yard, you are dealing with a wild animal and there are real risks involved. For more information about your skunk removal options, consult a pest management professional at Terminix®.

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