Removing Skunk Spray From Your Dog

I do not know what it is about skunks that is irresistible to dogs, but there certainly seems to be something.  If there is a skunk anywhere near a dog, you can be sure that the dog will investigate.  More often than not, the dogs ends up getting sprayed.  The oily, smelly spray burns the dogs eyes, nose, and mouth and renders it totally uninterested in the skunk.  The skunk makes a get away, and you are left to clean up the dog.

Skunk spray is a mixture of sulphur containing compounds such as methyl and butyl thiols.  Together these are generally referred to as mercaptans. The exact ingredients are (E)-2-butene-1-thiol, 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, 2-quinolinemethanethiol, and acetate thioesters of these compounds, along with a few other things.  Whatever they are called, they smell of sulphur, garlic, and other noxious compounds.  A skunk can spray five or six times, then is running on empty for the ten days or so it takes to produce more spray.  Accordingly, skunks use the odor as a defense only reluctantly. Once committed, however, the skunk can direct the spray with a great deal of accuracy.

When your dog is sprayed, forget the tomato juice or other home remedies.  Use the mixture developed by chemists to eliminate the odor.  Mix one quart hydrogen peroxide (5 %, the kind you buy for first aid), 1/4 cup baking soda, and a squirt of a dishwashing liquid such as Dawn®.  Mix this in an open container and immediately sponge it over the dog.  Do not get this in the dog’s eyes as it will burn them.

This mixture binds with the thiols that cause the nasty odor and breaks them down.  You may have to wash the dog a couple of times, but when you are done, the dog should not smell like anything but wet dog.

You can also buy commercial products that essentially do the same thing as this formula.  The advantage of this stuff is that you can keep the ingredients on hand and combine them when needed.  Mixing them ahead of time does not work, as the mixture gives off oxygen and will explode in a closed container.  If mixed in an open container, one all the oxygen is gone, the mixture is flat and will not work well.  That means you have to use it promptly once you mix it, so have all the ingredients and the dog handy before you start.

Having a dog get skunked is never fun.  Prevention is a lot better.  However, if you have dogs, you will, in all likelihood, one day end up facing this problem.  Keep the hydrogen peroxide on hand, just in case.  It goes flat, too, just like soda kept too long, so replace it periodically.  Once it is flat, it is useless.  With a little luck, you will never need it, but keep it just in case.  Preparation is better than panic.