Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 30, 2010

Was Your Dog Sprayed by a Skunk? Here’s How To Get That Smell Out!

Posted at 09:13AM - Comments: (13)

The easy skunk spray odor home solution you NEED to know about.

[Updated March 30, 2016]

"You guys like my new cologne? Hehe"

Skunks, skunks, skunks! Half a dozen of my friends have reported skunk/dog encounters in the past WEEK! These usually happen late at night, when the dog goes out for his last potty of the night before bedtime . . . and suddenly the whole family is wide, wide awake and facing an odoriferous emergency. What to do?

First, and most important: DO NOT BATHE THE DOG! Or pour tomato juice on him, or any of the other home remedies you’ve heard about. But DO check your cupboards for a quart of hydrogen peroxide (it’s usually found in most medicine cabinets in a pint size. If you have two pints, or one pint and a small dog, you’re in luck.).

You’ll want to do this as quickly as possible – both because it works best on the fresh, unoxidized compounds in the skunk “spray”, and because you’ll be suffering in the meantime. If the dog has been bathed, or even just rinsed with water, it’s not quite as effective as it would have been with fresh skunk spray. If the spray is fresh, it’s like magic, but it’s actually just good science.

Mix your quart of regular 3% hydrogen peroxide in a bowl or bucket with 1/4 cup of baking soda. This will start fizzing and bubbling (which is why one can't pre-make the formula and store it in a bottle). Add about a teaspoon of liquid soap or dishwashing liquid; it helps distribute the stuff around the dog's hair. Wet the dog thoroughly with the mixture, sponging carefully around the face. Most dogs' faces will be badly skunked, so you really want to wet the face, but don't get it in their eyes or nose, because it stings.

You'll notice an immediate cessation of the skunk smell. Skunk spray contains a substance known as a “thiol” – an organosulfur compound that contains a sulfur-hydrogen bond. Many thiols have a repulsive and potent odor (at least to humans); thiols are said to be detectable by the human nose at concentrations of only 10 parts per billion. But the compounds can be immediately altered into odor-free neutral substances by making oxygen molecules (provided by the fresh hydrogen peroxide/baking soda mix) bond with and chemically alter the thiols.

After the dog is thoroughly wetted with the mixture, and every trace of the scent is gone, then rinse the dog with water, or bathe him with water and shampoo, to rinse off the mixture (which can irritate and dry his skin if left on).

I’ve used the mixture on my dog Otto twice; both events happened last year at about this time. He’s gotten a lot smarter, and now recognizes skunks as bad mojo; he won’t chase or approach them any more! But his Jack Russell Terrier “cousin” (my sister’s dog), has been skunked at least once annually for each of his 14 years. Owners of this type of dog are well-advised to buy quarts of hydrogen peroxide and keep them on hand at all times!

Comments (13)

my guy has been skunked TWICE in less than a year (he barks and BOWS at skunks and they are unimpressed w/ his playful overtures..

Posted by: MuttLover | January 6, 2011 10:46 PM    Report this comment

2 years ago i was walking my young great dane bitch outside a texas motel, just prior to going to a dog show, when she scented a skunk in an overgrown fence row. she dove into 2 foot high growth & was grabbing (apparently at the rear end) when skunked...in the mouth! she began PROFUSELY salivating, shaking head, etc. the motel crew turned on a hose & we flushed her mouth from both sides & discovered she was not skunked OUTSIDE the mouth at all. i always carry grapefruit juice cocktail. diluted, it is excellent for cleaning slobber from a dogs mouth (ringside) & in cases of early bloat will break gastric bubbles as you get to the vet(or humans as a gargle for postnasal-drip coated throat). it is acidic like tomato juice, baking soda, peroxide. flushed her mouth numerous times with undiluted grapefruit juice & then with tomato juice from one of the motel workers. we actually made the show & no one guessed! she is still an avid varmint hunter & we never know what she will catch. we live in the country so i'm making a note of this for sure, although i would not use it for a direct hit in the mouth, & the affect on the coat would be a concern for a show animal. thanks so much for sharing the additional personal comments to the article. they are most helpful

Posted by: pmax | September 16, 2010 2:58 AM    Report this comment

Terriers that are sprayed underground up close and personal can contract Skunk Toxic Shock . Be careful of skunks if you let your dog go to ground looking for prey!

Posted by: JEAN F | September 9, 2010 3:00 PM    Report this comment

Thoroughly rinse off the mixture within a minute of wetting the dog with it. I've never experienced any bleaching of the dog's coat when I've done this. And if you are careful about sponging it onto the dog's face, there is no reason it needs to get in their eyes! Skip the face if you're worried or can't keep your dog still enough to be careful. -- Nancy Kerns, Editor

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | September 5, 2010 9:51 AM    Report this comment

As someone above states, this MIX WILL DISCOLOR YOUR DOG'S COAT!

More importantly, if you get hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into your dog's eyes, you can cause real damage! Same thing with baking soda.

As for the comment about having kits "pre-made"...I'm making a bunch in my home and trying to get people to buy them. And, you know what? I use SAFE ingredients which will NOT discolor your dog's coat or possibly BLIND them.

I won't spam the board, but the whole reason I came up with it b/c I was so frustrated at the irresponsible sites like this one posting these kinds of recipes which can have bad consequences for the dogs.

Posted by: BuddyR | September 4, 2010 9:35 PM    Report this comment

What a GREAT idea to have pre-made skunk kits ready. Good one!

Posted by: VICTORIA F | September 4, 2010 6:20 AM    Report this comment

This does indeed work. I used it on my Black lab two years ago. It did make him have a little different coloring to his coat but at least he didn't stink!!

Posted by: Heidi R | September 3, 2010 1:10 PM    Report this comment

I found this recipe several years ago, but it was 24 hours past the event. The skunk oils had soaked into the hair by then. The recipe still worked to an extent, and better than store remedies. My dog is a black and tan German Shepherd. She did get a bit lighter, but it didn't completely bleach the black hair. The clothes I had on definitely had blotchy bleach spots, but any clothes you wear while bathing a skunked dog are destined for the rag bag in any case (maybe even the garbage can!).

I've kept the ingredients on hand ever since, but my sweet girl learned from the two times and she hasn't been skunked since.

Posted by: JOAN L | September 1, 2010 7:38 PM    Report this comment

Does it bleach the fur at all? If you use this remedy on a black dog, will the dog still be black?

Posted by: Tracy N | August 31, 2010 4:39 PM    Report this comment

We have used this recipe for a skunk deodorizer for several years.We have had 4or 5 dogs at a time and usually had skunk problems off and on It is a miracle liquid and we are glad to recommend it.Mrs. Ken Parnell

Posted by: psparnel | August 31, 2010 3:52 PM    Report this comment

We have used this recipe for a skunk deodorizer for several years.We have had 4or 5 dogs at a time and usually had skunk problems off and on It is a miracle liquid and we are glad to recommend it.Mrs. Ken Parnell

Posted by: psparnel | August 31, 2010 3:52 PM    Report this comment

I learned about this remedy a number of years ago. It works. At Christmas one year, I made up a whole bunch of "skunk kits" for my friends with dogs: a brown paper bag with a quart of peroxide, small bottle of Ivory dish soap, a box of baking soda and the "recipe." It was inexpensive to give and I can't even count how many phone calls I have received over the years (usually first thing in the mornining) from grateful friends who needed it late the night before, remembered they had my "skunk kit" stuffed in their closet, and had used it. Everyone told me it was the most thoughtful and useful gift they had ever received!

Posted by: Team Canine | August 31, 2010 12:05 PM    Report this comment

It works!

Posted by: tcraggs | August 31, 2010 11:53 AM    Report this comment

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