Catherine Forsythe

Catherine Forsythe
know a bit about computer security, dogs, horses, skiing, medicine and making risotto. My nickname in real life/online is "Noggie" - I'm on Twitter, with the @dogreader account.

JULY 16, 2010 12:30PM

Recovering from a Skunk Versus Dog Encounter

Rate: 7 Flag

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. 

Catherine Forsythe

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I hope never to need this, but appreciate the information which should be valuable to many.
Ugh - we have a skunk in the neighborhood that resides in the field behind my house, which is also our defacto off leash dog park. I know it's just a matter of time - thank you for this!
The hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing soap works. Don't waste your time or money on tomato juice, save it for the bloody mary you will richly deserve later.
Up on Grandma's farm, I remember from childhood, the countryside often redolent of skunk. And getting used to it. Sort of liking it. But it was faint and environmental, not intense.

I've heard the hydrogen peroxide solution is the only thing that really works. I have no personal experience with it. Thankful for that.

Douche: do you think it has vinegar or something comparable as an ingredient?

You're a veritable font of dog info. Maybe you'll do a post on dogs nibbling semi-obsessively, with front teeth, on its owner's bed. Nowhere else. Not when particularly anxious (which is what the vet attributed it to.) Or maybe you'll do a post on recognizing dog anxiety. I'll rate that, too.
I have several here floating around the front yard. Hopefully I won;t have to do this.. But Vinegar it is.
Rated with hugs
My husband got sprayed in the face last summer while trying to kill a skunk that had been living (and pooping...and skunk poop smells REALLY BAD, as you might imagine) under our chickenhouse. Everything, including his watch and glasses, we had to soak in vinegar. I ran to the grocery store to buy a gallon of vinegar while he went home to wait for me. He got so desperate to get rid of the smell he opened a few cans of tomato paste and was slathering himself with that in the shower before I got back with the vinegar. I remember opening the bathroom door and the smell nearly knocked me on my was like a cross between an Italian restaurant and an abattoir. I can only imagine what the odor's like on a wet dog!
Oh my god. I hope this never happens, but this is good info and I'm printing it out to put in my vet file for the dog.

Funny skunk story... years ago as an exchange student in England, my roommate and I were describing a skunk and the smell to our host family. It hadn't occurred to me until then that a skunk is a North American mammal and they'd never smelled one. We went on and on... burning the clothes, bathing the cat in tomato juice, etc. They didn't believe us. They really didn't.

Second skunk story--several years back, my husband worked for an insurance company. They had the mother of all homeowner claims--a labrador picked up a skunk in his mouth and brought it through the dog door into the house. And then it sprayed. They had to gut the living room down to the bare studs. Carpet, furniture, wallboard, flooring, everything. It was like a fire. The insurance covered it under a clause for "vermin."
@ fetlock: That can be serious for a small dog. I knew someone who hunted her Jack Russells, one got face sprayed in a tunnel/den/hole in the ground and it took long and extreme medical treatment to save her. NOT funny.

@ froggy: I was going to say - keep the dog out of the house until you get the smell under control. It's much harder to get the smell out of the house and the dog can transfer it. Or so I've been told.

Sorry, Catherine. :-)
Valuable information....but I hope I never need to use it! Thank you for your post regarding Nike.