Protect Your Dog with Pumpkin and Peroxide

Two things dog owners should never be without.


Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple days in the San Francisco Bay area. I had a dog-food related meeting with some pet supply store representatives, and was taking photos for articles and our annual calendar. I brought my adolescent pit-mix, Woody, and stayed at the home of a friend. On my last night there, my son and his dog came over and joined us for dinner (my son is good friends with my friend’s twin sons). After dinner, we took both of our dogs for a walk around the quiet suburban neighborhood. It was around 11 p.m., a beautiful warm night. We were walking in the middle of the dead-end street, with both of our dogs off-leash, when my son’s dog suddenly darted into some bushes, and then, almost as quickly, ran back out, sneezing. And then the skunk smell hit us like a cloud of tear gas.

Going shopping for a couple of quarts of peroxide at 11 o’clock at night is not fun – and it just makes bathing the dog outdoors even later. It was well after midnight by the time Cole was mostly odor-free, and we (Cole, my son, my friends, and me) were all tired, and we all had to get up early to work the next day.

Peroxide is one of those things that every dog owner should have on a shelf somewhere. The recipe for the absolute best anti-skunk-spray remedy is a mix of a quart of fresh hydrogen peroxide (the regular 3% kind), a quarter-cup of baking soda, and a small squirt of dishwashing liquid. You have to mix it fresh in a bowl or bucket; it can’t be stored. But as long as you don’t wet the dog with anything else first, it completely neutralizes the “thiols” in the skunk spray – the substance that stinks. But you must NOT wet the dog with water (or tomato juice, or anything else) first; it’s the chemical reaction between the fresh skunk spray and the formula that eliminates the stink. If you alter the chemistry, it doesn’t work nearly as well.

Take care not to get this in the dog’s eyes, as it stings. Wash the dog with shampoo (or at least rinse him with water) afterward, and you will be amazed; the smell will be gone. And as long as you had the peroxide on hand ahead of time, you won’t have had to put your stinky, greasy dog in your car or home while you went to buy the peroxide, and he won’t have had the chance to rub the smell all over your upholstery.

Having peroxide on hand is also a great idea in case you just discovered your dog ate something he shouldn’t have. Again, time is of the essence. Having to send someone to the store might cause enough of a delay to contraindicate the induction of vomiting. (See “How to Make Your Dog Throw Up,” WDJ January 2014, for complete directions.)

Speaking of dietary indiscretions, having plain canned pumpkin on hand at all times is another good idea. On another trip to the Bay area and after a trip to the beach with my son and his dog, my pup Woody pooped a small sand castle, with a great deal of discomfort (as you can imagine). It seemed he swallowed a lot of sand while playing with and fetching tennis balls at the beach, which gave him a significant tummy ache and a reluctance to defecate for a day or two. Feeding him pumpkin several times a day for a few days seemed to help sweep the sand through his system, just as it can help push other indigestible objects through the dog’s digestive tract.