Posted by: My Personal Vet | June 26, 2010

It’s a skunk! RUN!

How DO you get that skunk smell out??!!

Last night a client posted a picture of a bristling skunk. He gets quite a few at his house because he feeds the barn cats outdoors in the evening.  Dry cat food really attracts the skunk brigade!  Turns out, this skunk stayed to protect her family,  shooting her stink shield at the front door while her 3 babies ran for cover under the house.   Pee Yeew!

Skunk on back porch

Everyone jumped onto Facebook to share their horrible odiferous stories  –  it seems there’s a  whole lot of spraying going on.  We love enthusiastic dogs but they end up bringing the stink with them to bed, in the living room, bedroom, clothes closet, the car, and wherever their human may go to breathe.

Everyone wanted to help by posting the most effective method of odor removal.  There were many suggestions but the question remained:

What is truly the best way to de-stink our dogs?

For the safety of dogs everywhere and the comfort of humans who live with them, here are various myths and methods from a vet who has successfully treated her own stinking dogs.

What NOT to use:

  • Tomato juice or paste.  Both are very acidic and very harsh on a dog’s skin.  I had a white dog who stayed pink for several months and still stunk.
  • Any heavy dose of detergent or human shampoo is also extremely harsh on dog’s skin.   If you leave any residue on skin or fur, you could end up with severe skin ulcerations.
  • Tea Tree Oil, especially straight, can cause harm.  One of the worst lesions I’ve seen was a flea collar of Tea Tree Oil that was placed on a cat.  All the neck skin ulcerated and sloughed off. Ouch! Poor kitty!
  • Castille, Ivory, and many others soaps are made using lye.  They are harsh on critters and humans so I do not recommend them.  Plus, they don’t work  to remove skunk odor.
  • There is a multitude of commercial products.  These are safe enough but just don’t have the working power to eliminate the skunk stench.
  • Febreze was q uite popular but some of the animals died from zinc poisoning.  Febreze has changed the formula but the recommendation remains:  Don’t use it on your pet!

Here are the FAQs for the recipe that works:

How does it work?      Skunk oil is made up of thiols- natural degradation products of proteins.  If you oxidize the oils, the other ingredients can neutralize the thiols.  When you neutralize the thiols, the smell goes away.

Who developed it?     A man named Krebaum put this mix together when he was studying thiols and needed something to neutralize the odors in his lab. (Can you imagine how must his lab stunk?)  He made the recipe available free because you just can’t bottle the stuff.

How long does it keep?     When you mix it up, use it immediately.  You can’t store it.  It explodes.

The Anti-Stink Recipe

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid (removes oil best)

How to apply:

  • ONLY wash the area that was sprayed.  Rubbing the rest of the fur will only spread the oils around.   The oil from the skunk spray is what smells so horrid.
  • Mix up the recipe a nd use quickly after the spraying.  Unless quickly removed, the oil soaks in to stay.
  • Don’t get into your pet’s eyes.
  • Completely rinse off your pet with tap water.

Want more info? Check out the links below.


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