Apparently there is an abundance of skunks right now…..and inquisitive canines can become overzealous in a search for a playmate, and have a close encounter of the worst kind! There are few smells that are as unpleasant and long lasting as skunk spray!

February through March is mating season for skunks, and that translates into more activity and more “skunk smell.” Skunks are gentle, non-aggressive creatures who have earned a bad reputation because of the pungent odor; their diet of grubs, insects, mice and baby rats is actually beneficial, but they are definitely unappreciated!

As for a person being sprayed by a skunk, it is unlikely. When alarmed, they are actually more afraid of you than you are of them, so if you know you have some on your property, make some noise when you go outside to let them know you are coming and they generally run away. …they also give off a warning by stamping their front feet. They usually come out at dawn and dusk to feed on grasses, roots, insects, or small rodents, and around homes, they may check the garbage cans. Skunks are nearsighted but they have a keen sense of smell so they follow their noses: a garbage can is an attraction, and if a door is open, a skunk may amble in. If the skunk enters the garage, the HSUS recommends leaving the garage door open at night and sprinkling flour along the bottom of it so that you can see the existing tracks. Cornering them is not a wise option, because spraying is their main defense! Dogs running free in a fenced-in back yard may share their space with them because skunks can get through very small openings to find any uncovered garbage or left over bits of pet food, and dogs don’t heed any warnings, so they are often victims of these nighttime prowlers.

There are many commercial “de-skunkers” on the market… some are effective; others are worthless. (Do NOT use tomato juice…it just makes a bad situation, worse!) The first thing to do is to check a sprayed dog’s eyes. If they are red and appear irritated, wash them out immediately with cool water. Since skunk musk is made up of chemical compounds called thiols, the answer to skunk odor is to change the thiols into other compounds that don’t smell, and regular shampoo won’t do that, but there is a homemade chemistry cure which is simple to make and will successfully “de-skunk” your smelly pet, eliminating the odor rather than masking it.

Mix the following in a large bucket (you need a large container because it will fizz):

  • 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dish washing soap or pet shampoo

Soak your dog’s fur, being careful to not get the solution in her eyes, nose, ears or mouth. These ingredients are natural, but they have acidic properties and can cause irritation. (We suggest putting a protective eye ointment into her eyes and a couple cotton balls in the ears before you begin soaping) Knead the solution into the fur, covering every part of the body, soaking it well. Use a sponge or cloth to clean around eyes and head. Rinse thoroughly, and if there is still an odor, soak down again, and rinse, and rinse, and rinse again!

If there is any solution left in the container, don’t try to store it. The chemical reaction from being closed up will just explode the lid off. Just toss whatever is left over, and hope there won’t be another stinky encounter for a long time!