Dog D-Skunking 101



You let your dog out to go to the bathroom in the dark of night. You hear a small commotion from the yard, and they come streaking back to your door, full throttle and wide-eyed.

You usher them in and WHAM-O! PEEEEYOOO!! 

They’ve tangled with a skunk! 

What do you do!?!?!

The first thing is to corral your dog, but to also try not to panic.

After an encounter like this, unless your dog is a true hunter, they are going to be completely freaked out and will immediately pick up on your energy and endorphin signature which comes out in your sweat and breath. This will make their anxiety even worse and possibly cause them to be more in a state of fight or flight. Staying calm and doing what needs to be done in these few initial steps are very important to get right.

In my opinion every single pet owner needs to have a deskunking rinse or shampoo on hand at all times if they live in the country. Sometimes even dogs in town can encounter a skunk if they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

If you aren’t prepared and don’t have a specific product on hand, then I suggest you take a look at this recipe which is safest for odor control but will not dry out the skin and hair coat as badly as some other concoctions, while being made up of a lot of the normal things you might have around the house. 

I urge you though- if you don’t have all of these things on hand in the proper proportions- to not just concoct something. If you’re short on supply in order to complete such a recipe, then I recommend you head to town instead and just pick up a deskunking product to be most safe.

As a professional Pet Groomer versed in canine skin and coat, the recipe I’m about to share I must advise can be quite drying to skin and hair coat so it is incredibly important that you follow up as soon as possible with a professional grooming where your stylist uses a moisturizing protein-based shampoo and a high-quality remoisturizing conditioner in order to avoid secondary skin dryness and itching or coat breakage. 

But if you are in a tight spot and don’t have many options, this is the safest recipe which can be found also on the website.


  1. 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
  2. 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  3. 1 teaspoon of liquid clarifying shampoo for dogs

*and a quality dog-specific cream rinse conditioner to follow up with!


You might find that you have to double or triple this recipe per the size and haircoat of your dog, but keep your proportions equal throughout- and mix it well. AND, if you have a quality pet shampoo on hand, you can always follow up with a second or third bath with that to help replace a little bit of skin moisture which will be drastically removed by the chemical action of this homemade formula.


And remember: DO NOT get this in your pet’s eyes or let them lick it at length off of their haircoat.

Part of pet ownership is often running damage control, and part of that is thinking ahead and being prepared for things like this.

Part of being a professional pet groomer is having these products on hand for your clients as well as being able to navigate a skunked dog coming into the salon in a state of emergency or happenstance. 

So if this happens and you are able to get in contact with a professional groomer to handle the situation while keeping your pet contained until your appointment time, that is probably in your best interest.


Typically it’s the head, face and neck areas of the dog that always get hit the worst because this is the part of the dog making the closest encounter with a business end of a skunk.

But these areas are also difficult to thoroughly treat due to the sensitivity of the eye tissue and mucous membranes and the fact that most dogs are extremely nauseous and drooling due to having this acrid liquid in their face and so near their nose- which is incredibly sensitive.

Concerning the skin and hair of the face and head, you will need to apply a separate method of cleansing this area and rinsing it to keep the eyes safe.

Once you have corralled your dog in a safe area somewhere inside your home or garage and away from that monstrous skunk so that they feel safe, go and grab your deskunking products and get them ready to go into the tub or laundry basin. 

I do not recommend trying to wash your dog in the backyard with cold hose water in the middle of the night; just my professional and empathetic opinion.



If you can get them safely into a laundry sink, shower basin or a bath tub, that is best. Before moving them into a bathroom I recommend removing or moving your shower curtain and bathroom rugs or any other type of fabric material away from the tub onto where he could shake water and soap and skunk odor.


Once he is in the bathing area, **do not pre-wet his coat with water!**

**This part is incredibly important!**

If you wet his coat you are making it very hard for your cleansing product to grab onto the skunk spray sitting on his coat and giving it a chance to ride around on the surface of the water and deposit more deeply into his hair and skin.

Drench him thoroughly with your homemade rinse or cover him thoroughly with your deskunking shampoo. Massage this by hand into the coat and expect that you’re going to get a little wet and a little smelly in the process.

Per the manufacturer guidelines, once the ready to use products are massaged and lathered deeply into the coat, give them the recommended adequate development time in order to fully do their job. 

Most enzymatic cleaners of any type need at least a handful of minutes in order to work well. If you’re making this at-home mix in an emergency, allow it about 5 minutes on the coat while lathering it all over.

Thorough saturation of the coat down to the skin as mentioned before is another huge component of getting as much smell out as possible.

After this, you’re going to want to use tap water and thoroughly rinse, rinse, rinse! Until every bit of bubbles are gone from the coat and the coat yields a squeaky clean feeling.

Most of your deskunking cleaners have a very high pH, which is part of what helps them to work as an enzymatic cleaner with the chemical composition of skunk spray, so if you find yourself itching after rinsing your dog, I recommend rinsing your skin well again with cool water. Unless you have a true chemical allergy, you will be just fine. And of course, if you had the presence of mind and the supplies on hand to don cleaning gloves and an old shirt or apron, those tools will always help out.

If you happen to have a pet specific shampoo on hand or even a high-quality human shampoo with a moisturizing additive, I recommend you follow up with an additional bath after the deskunking step to help thoroughly cleanse the coat of dirt and oil and the rinse you applied.

Even after a thorough cleansing bath with just the right products applied to dry coat in adequate amounts and rinsed thoroughly, commonly there will still be a lingering odor on the coat for weeks and sometimes even months. Especially each time the coat gets wet with moisture again. 

And why is this?

Let’s delve a little deeper into what happens on a physiological level with skunk spray and how it acts upon canine skin and hair coat.


One part of the reason that skunk odor lingers for so long on your dog is that their body is continuously growing and shedding skin cells and hair coat in regular cycles. As the process of desquamation, or skin cell turnover happens, right along with that comes a bit of that odorous liquid that’s still residing throughout the layers of skin.

Considering this fact of it, it is also the way it permeates the hair shaft and remains within the actively growing haircoat at the time of the encounter which is all still sitting in the follicle cup, right alongside dead hair ready to be lifted out, and new hair still being generated deeper within the follicle- that is all still growing in its typical cycles through the skin. 

The fact that this oil permeates deeply and uses sebum to accomplish this, but it also has a far different pH level than the average pH level of a pet’s skin, is also worth consideration.

In its chemical composition (acidic nature and caustic nature), it can penetrate several layers deep into the skin, which will continue to cause the newly emerging hair to still hold odor even after resting growth phases are all shed out. 

This prolongs the smell even more.

The individual hair shaft itself holds the odor also, and every time the hair cuticle is lifted with moisture contact, those odor-causing enzymes are reactivated alongside the water. This is obviously part of the reason why it’s so important to try to initially deskunk a *dry coat *without *pre-wetting because of the oil vs. water equation and using the micellar bonds within your shampoo surfactant (cleansing) formulation to encapsulate that oil-based substance as thoroughly as possible so that it can be suspended and more thoroughly rinsed from the coat. 

It’s also very important that you have an adequate cleanser not too greatly diluted so that the oil substance from the skunk does not simply ride around in the water and then redeposit in the coat during rinsing when the micellar bonds are broken down again.

So yes, the normal cellular replacement cycles do continue to re-release the odor just as much as the haircoat itself does. And you pick up on this by the very same signature ways that your nose tells you this each time you your pet again becomes damp or wet with moisture.

Add to that that typically dogs get skunked the worst in the head and face and it can be incredibly hard to efficiently apply a de-skunking or cleansing product strong and ample enough in these areas without causing eye or mucus membrane tissue irritation- so a lot of groomers still send dogs home with a slightly smelly head and face, and this is what the owner smells every time they are close to the dog even if the body is more effectively cleansed. 

Groomers are trying to keep your pet’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears safe while applying the topical, so there is a possibility that some odor will remain even after a professional grooming. 

And obviously, this pungent substance only takes a tiny amount to find objectionable and putrid, LOL!

It only takes once of having to go through trying to deskunk your dog in your bathroom tub in the middle of the night for an owner to have WISHED they had deskunking products on hand, so if you read this blog I suggest you stay ahead of the curve and buy what you need in the event of such an emergency.

  1. De-skunking Shampoo or Enzymatic Coat Rinse
  2. Moisturizing Shampoo
  3. Moisturizing Conditioner
  4. Plenty of towels, and an effective method of completely rinsing shampoo from your pet’s haircoat.


Happy Hounding!


The PGC & a Big Announcement!


I’m on CLOUD NINE!!!

Today I received notification that my CCE course library, my Caring For the Canine Coat book AND the Mindful Groomer Series library have ALL been formally accepted as educational material for the Professional Groomer Credentialing program!

If you I haven’t heard of the PGC and all it has to offer Groomers and our entire industry, you can find a lot more information here: 

I’m honored, and SO EXCITED to have my work really count towards standardized educational requirements, formal credentialing for our entire industry, and to aid in honoring the hard work of fellow professional groomers to keep moving themselves forward!


Battling Static Cling!


Static electricity in the salon got you down?

I personally don’t like to use fabric softener sheets but they DO work wonders for ending static electricity on your uniform and on your grooming table.

Simply place one in the bottom of each of your shoes to stop those gobs of slippery hair sticking to your feet, and one in the pocket of your grooming smock to help stop its sticking to your uniform.

If you’re extra desperate you can even take one and rub it across the surface of your grooming table a couple of times through the day to help alleviate hair sticking there as well.


For your tools and the dog a good coat conditioner during the bathing process and a follow up scissoring/anti-static spray is still the best method. This does a great job at alleviating sticky situations as well as those electric shocks!


Try to avoid misting with simple water as it can actually make the problem worse once it evaporates!


Static electrical charge can actually work to lift the hair cuticle surface as well!

HV dryers are great at getting the coat dry, but those warm magnetic motors actually can generate additional static charge once the coat is dry if adequate remoisturizing has not been done to the skin and coat.


This causes a greater possibility of coat damage during combing and brushing, and lots of tangling while at home between grooming visits. 

Dry, damaged coats and white, porous coats are at an immediate static charge disadvantage as soon as we strip away skin oil during the bathing process.


Never underestimate the importance of your coat conditioners and grooming sprays to help smooth the hair shaft, return a bit of moisture lost during cleansing, provide slip for your tools, and to add to overall hair strength and coat health!



Honoring Our Seniors


We need to honor and respect and appreciate our senior pets that come to us for care. 

We need to slow down and have empathy and exude kindness and patience when they come to us for the care that they very much need in order to have quality of life. 

We as professionals in the business of offering CARE... must be willing to actually CARE.


We have to be willing to step back from a place of duty, and work from a place of the heart.

We need to respect our clients who have faithfully brought their pets to us, which in turn has supported our business and us caring for ourselves and our families and bestow that mutual appreciation to the end. 


We too, will grow old someday. Mind that thought. 

For yourself, you would never want to be at the mercy of someone taking care of you without kindness, honor, respect and patience for all you’ve experienced, all you’ve given, and how little you ask for in return.



Another Facet of This Pandemic for Groomers


All of the puppies sold and dogs adopted during a pandemic add up to a whole generation of dogs entering into pet homes without proper socialization. 

At home stays means in-person training programs are off the menu, as well as puppy socialization get-togethers and classes.

Not even being able to have friends over means all of these pets have had very limited interaction with anyone outside of their immediate family unit and only inside their own homes.


So for us as groomers that means we’re going to be caring in the next few months for a whole lot of puppies that haven’t been socialized, adult dogs Who already had baggage when they entered into the rescue or shelter system, that have now been living in a very small bubble, and are likely going to be completely overwhelmed when they are put up on our grooming table.


Understanding canine behavior and body language and being willing to slow down to get these dogs started off on the right foot is always of paramount importance. But thanks to the pandemic there’s a new element of pretty much no socialization across-the-board that we will have to learn to navigate.



Dealing With Dry Eyes

Dealing With Dry Eye


Eyes use tears as a method of naturally cleansing and hydrating the surface of the eyes. 

Dogs with larger eyes generate more tear production, and therefore are more prone to both weepy eyes and then dry eyes they age.


Typically we have to clean up around the eye area quite a bit due to tear drainage and environmental pathogen accumulation, but as groomers we also see a lot of dogs with dry eyes, especially as part of the aging process.

In these instances we can have different presenting symptoms that have to be addressed during the grooming visit.

Eyes void of tears or moisture are *extremely sensitive*, painful, present a host of serious visual symptoms, and can put the dog on high alert due to the pain.


Aside from communicating what we see to our pet owners in hopes that they will remedy the situation on a medical level, there’s a few things we need to do in the salon when working alongside these symptoms.


During the bathing process we have to remember that a dry eyes will not have the surface lubricated adequately. This means that when we get shampoo in the eyes, there’s really no place for it to go except directly against the eyeball and lid membrane it’s self. 


This could create a world of trouble & a lot of pain! 


I highly recommend with dogs that have crusty eyes that we first wet the face with adequate water and use a mild face cleanser as we *gently* clean up the eye area and then immediately rinse before moving on with bathing the rest of the dog.


Once the bath and rinsing is done I highly recommend a lubricating eyedrop be applied to each eye before moving to the drying process.


Some groomers prefer mineral oil and that is personal preference. 

However mineral is messy and it can actually cause water-based shampoo to ride around on the surface of the eye opposite the oil, and redeposit under the lid possibly causing severe ulceration.


When  you have finished grooming, it’s very important for you to check the moisture level on the surface of the eye and carefully remove any hair splinters or particles that came into contact with the eyeballs or lids during the haircutting process.


I would never carefully wipe away hair splinters without applying more lubricating eyedrop solution as this can cause severe eye irritation.


Without doing this as a final step, it is possible for the hair splinters and any other particular debris to just sit on the eye instead of the adequately rinse away as it normally would.


If the owner has eyedrops from the veterinarian, then urge them to reapply once they get home. 

I do not personally recommend administering any type of prescription from the salon storefront due to liability unless their veterinarian has issued a *written consent form* for you to administer in their absence. 

‼️The same goes for medicated shampoo and eardrops!😉


More medical info on dry eye, or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca:



Quick Setting Beard Length

Super quick tip to set in the length of beard hair on the lower jaw. 

Choosing the correctly proportionate length for this in comparison to overall style will help you frame the face, keep the head in total proportion for balance and symmetry, add length & gracefulness to the neck on certain breeds, and keep their beard a little cleaner between visits. 😉





Groomer Tip! When Clippered Coats Go Bad


MANY groomers ask me why terrier or terrier mix breeds become fine and lackluster in color as they grow out from clippering. 




Harsh guard coat that is actively growing has the highest concentration of pigment deposit. 

The more harsh the texture, the more pigment will reside within the hair shaft.

Melanin (pigment) granules reside deep in the hair shaft along the cortex and beneath the cortical fibrils.

Hair in a resting phase will not be as harshly textured or deeply pigmented as a actively (anagen) phase hair.


When you clip hair off above the skin, that only removes the length of coat which is visible to us.

What’s still seated in the hair follicle cup is the remaining length of the hair shaft. 


As the hair moves into a resting (catagen) phase, the pigment is lessened drastically as is the thickness and texture because the hair is no longer actively growing. 

As this hair is slowly pushed up in the follicle cup it will be fine (having a thinner and more porous cuticle), be poorly colored (lackluster), and usually doesn’t reflect light very well or have gloss/shine.


As well, repeated clippering of haircoat from long to short also sit in the stratum corny him layer of skin. Thicker skin produces finer/thinner hair.

And as a final consideration, dogs of the Terrier class cycle through coat differently than any other breed class. They do not produce actively growing hair from deeper within the follicle until the resting or dormant phases are adequately removed.

There are a few more facets of this considering hormone/endocrine changes, underlying medical conditions, side effects from medications, the dog’s overall health and being able to maintain core temperature & skin oil/moisture levels, secondary microflora imbalances of the skin’s microbiome, etc. 

But, to get from point A to point B this is the simplest route of general insight into this phenomenon.

Contour Trim on a Double Coat

A double feature this week on contour trimming double and triple (Nordic and Primitive breeds like Spitz, Pom, Nordic Working breeds, Chow, Collie, Sheltie, etc, etc.) coated breeds, and why it’s so important to *treat the whole coat* of these dogs first before taking off any length.

I do understand that perhaps some breeders of these breeds or purists who believe trimming of feathering is a sacrilege, may be triggered by this post. 

In the reality of pet dogs going into a pet grooming salon there are times when functionality in a family environment necessitates shorter trimming of coat. As long as the dog’s overall health is not threatened, I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with a tailored trim, and knowing how to accomplish it effectively is important for pet groomers to know.