It may be one of the most odious chores that a dog owner has to do. Cleaning and deodorizing a dog who has had an encounter with a skunk is a massive chore. I have had this experience twice which have left me with two conclusions. The first is that the skunk's major defense mechanism is exceptionally effective. The second is I hate skunks. With all due respect to all the 'animal people' who read these pages, I hate skunks. The following are some methods gained through bitter experience. Hopefully, you will never need this information.
There are all sorts of solutions sold at veterinary clinics and pet supplies outlets to handle the problem of the dog being ’skunked’. These products are expensive. Chances are, however, an encounter will happen in the evening or on a weekend outing, when such resources are closed. Therefore, the following are some ‘home remedies’ that indeed do work.
Your immediate concern is the dog’s eyes. You want to flush the eyes with a gentle stream of clean water. This will provide the dog with some immediate relief and help settle the animal. You must endure the odour while doing this.
First of all, the traditional solution of using tomato juice seems to have limited success. Perhaps not enough tomato juice was used. However, even with a medium sized dog, loads and loads of tomato juice will be required. Imagine a family member going to store to store to store – buying all the tomato juice that is on the shelves. It gives the convenience store clerks something to think about, as the person loads up with tomato juice. Remember, tomato juice is messy. Yes, the dog will give a shake and tomato juice will fly in every possible direction. Trust me – this is not a pretty sight.
What seems to work is a mild soap, like the Ivory product. Repeated baths are absolutely necessary. This is where you will be thankful that you taught the dog to sit and to stand and to stay. These and other commands will be invaluable here. If there is seltzer water (bottled sparkling water) available, use that along with the soap. The carbonation in the water seems to lift the skunk scent from the dog’s coat. If you are desperate (and you will be), any carbonated beverage will do. The stickiness of sweeten drinks adds a problem to the coat. However, you rapidly exchange the stickiness for the odour. Even a dog with a beer smell is a welcome relief. The carbonation does work and carbonated drinks are much easier to buy in large quantities than tomato juice.
A follow up treatment that can also be used is to mix a bottle of hydrogen peroxide with a third (1/3) cup of baking soda. To this, add a couple of tablespoons of mild dish washing detergent. This will look like a horrid solution, but it does work. Apply it to the dog as you would a shampoo. Repeat as often as is necessary or as long as your supplies last. Care must be taken to protect the dogs eyes, but this does remove some of the residue odour.
Now, many people have said that douche products will work. I cannot say that I have ever tried this. I will simply take them at their word. Now, if you think that grocery clerk was curious when you bought all that tomato juice, can you imagine the response to a cart load of douche products?
The final suggestion is vinegar – full strength. Essentially, you want to wash the dog with vinegar. This will lift the smell and then the vinegar itself will have to be washed away from the coat. For this, pure white vinegar seems to work well. You will need more vinegar than you first estimated. The skunk odour will be detectable even after several applications. You need to be persistent.
I should mention that you will want to treat your hands after cleaning the dog. You will be washing your hands often. Try soaking your hands in vinegar. Hopefully, you will have done all this treatment out doors and not have a mess indoors to clean. As for the clothes that you were wearing, don’t even try to wash them, unless you want to clean and deodorize your washing machine in the near future. My suggestion is that you take the clothes that you were wearing and just burn them. By the time the dog has been cleaned and the odour removed, you will have come to that conclusion anyway.