Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

SKUNKED! Solving Skunk Stink

by | May 26, 2015 | Dog Training & Care | 4 comments

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd puppy, 10 weeks old, looking at Striped Skunk, Mephitis Mephitis, 5 years old, sitting in front of white background

It’s not just clueless puppies that get skunked! Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

It happened again—Magical-Dawg found a skunk, at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday. A day later, and the smell lingers in the house. You’d think dogs would learn after one skunk encounter, but time after time he sticks his nose in rude places and gets rewarded with skunky consequences. One summer, he was skunked 3 times in as many weeks, yikes!

How to Solve Skunk Stink

I suspect that the heavy rains have evicted many little black and white furry families from their heir homes. This one Magic found pretty close to the house, rather than the distant field that’s on pretty low (currently soggy) ground. Usually hunting dogs get nailed most often since they’re exposed to wildlife as they hunt. But hungry skunks won’t hesitate to munch pet food left out and can even sneak into your house (yikes!) through a pet door.

My husband has morning dog duty, so he saw it happen—and then decided to bring Magic IN THE HOUSE to tell me about it. Urk! Nothing like eau de wet dog + skunk to start off your morning right. Even Karma-Kat objected, his tiny little nose wiggling and his kitty face wearing an appalled expression.

Once hit, Magic typically rolls around to get rid of the smell. A direct hit in the eyes can cause temporary blindness but he’s been lucky so far. Of course, with all the rain we’ve had, the rolling added wet mud-puppy to the equation.

Why Dogs Get Skunked—Again & Again

Dogs aren’t dumb. Well, most are not…so you’d think they’d learn from one (or two, or five!) encounters. Yet the dogs continue to push the sniff-envelope and continue to get nailed. It’s not entirely their fault, even though skunks give fair warning with stomped feet, turning around and holding the tail high. But this elevated tail poised to launch its smelly cargo sends mixed signals to pets.

A straight-up tail is a greeting behavior for cats, and for dogs a high-held wagging tail begs for a greeting sniff. The skunk has shown the equivalent of a dog offering to shake hands, and gets his feelings hurt when he misunderstands the skunk’s invitation. It’s simple mis-communication.

Why Skunks Stink

Skunks have musk glands on each side of the anus. These glands are equipped with retractable ducts. They can take aim and spray the stink a distance of 10 to 15 feet, so even standoffish pets are liable to get nailed.

Skunk spray contains thiols, an organic compound composed of a sulfur atom attached to a hydrogen atom attached to a carbon atom. The same types of compounds create stinky breath or flatulence. Thiols have a lingering rotten egg odor, and the skunk’s oily secretion makes it difficult to get rid of. Skunk spray is so pungent, a concentration of one in 10 parts per billion can make humans gag. Just think how obnoxious or downright painful the smell is to your pet’s nose.

Eliminating Skunk Odor

A bath alone generally won’t do the job. The oily secretions can be difficult to wash away, and the thiols are impossible to perfume or wash off. Usually a commercial de-skunking solution will be needed, one that incorporates odor neutralizers specially designed to eliminate the pungent aroma.

Perform clean up outside, too, or you’ll need to deodorize your entire house after scrubbing the pet. Wear comfortable, disposable old clothes and gloves because your dog will transfer odor to you during the bathing process. Trust me on this!

Oh, and do NOT let the dog back into the house until after the bath. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with the skunk smell in the air and potentially your carpet and furniture when the dog tries to rub off the odor. Currently I’ve got a Fresh Wave candle burning, and spritzed odor neutralizers around the kitchen.

What if you don’t have handy-dandy products available that are designed to keep skunk smell at bay? Here are a few options.

3 Home Remedies for Skunk Stink

Tomato Juice. A tried and true home remedy is a tomato juice soak. Wash your puppy first with pet shampoo and towel him dry. Then douse him with the juice and let it soak for ten or fifteen minutes. Rinse him off and suds again with the regular shampoo. Alternate the tomato juice soak with the shampoo bath until he’s less pungent. Be warned, though, that white and light colored pets may turn temporarily pink from this treatment.

Massengill Douche. Professional groomers often recommend Massengill brand douche to get rid of skunk odor. Mix two ounces of Massengill to a gallon of water for small dogs—double the recipe for bigger pups—and pour over the washed pet. Let the solution soak for at least fifteen minutes. Then rinse with plain water, and bathe with normal shampoo once more.

Chemistry Cure. You can also use chemistry to neutralize the thiols. I like this option so much, I included it in my book The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of pet shampoo (any kind will work).
  2. Apply to the pet’s DRY fur.
  3. Allow the mix to bubble for three or four minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until odor is gone.

This recipe, created by chemist Paul Krebaum, works better than anything on the market. You can’t buy it, though, because the formula can’t be bottled. It explodes if left in a closed container. So if your pet is skunked, mix only one application at a time. Otherwise you’ll be cleaning up more than just the pet.

What about you? Has something have ever skunked your dog? More than once? How did you solve the stink? I suspect Magic likes the aftermath of getting to play hose tag with the water!

Oh…and if my husband brings a skunked dog in the house again, he’s likely to get hose-tagged, too!

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

4 Comments

  1. Patricia

    Great info on skunks. Me and my cousin were chasing one when we were kids and I was the lucky recipient of it’s fragrant odor. I remember my mother using tomato juice. She was not a happy camper. That video of Magic kills me. I can’t figure out which he loves more – water or frisbees??? LOL

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      I would be so upset to get skunked myself! I still think I’m smelling it

      Reply
  2. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Ouch. Poor Magic!\

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Poor US! Magic thought it was fun. Urk!

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Saint Spot Syndrome and Bravo! a Magical Legacy & Shelter Adoption Day - […] summer he seemed determined to make friends with the local skunk population — three times in a month! His…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories:

Recent Posts

Dog Taste Buds: What Flavor Do Dogs Love?

Do dogs have taste buds? Yes! But do dogs care about taste? Again, they clearly have flavor preferences. Of course, we know some of the odd and nasty weird stuff dogs eat—I really do need to record an Ask Amy about why dogs drink out of the toilet—but do they actually taste such things? How dogs taste remains a mystery in many ways.

Dogs taste sense mirrors that of humans, one reason your dogs beg for yummies from the table. For young dogs, smell of the food seems to trump taste. With some dogs, dirty socks might be a flavor enhancer . . . Read on, to learn what tastes dogs love, hate, and more!

How to Promote Cat Purrs for National Cat Health Month

February is National Cat Health Month. In the past, I’ve also written about the CATalyst Council declaring September to be Happy Healthy Cat Month, dedicated to finding ways to keep kitty companions happy, healthy and purring all year long. Keeping cats healthy should be the focus all year long, don’t you think? After all, they offer all kinds of health benefits to us.

Cats love us in countless ways, and we want to return the favor. All cat “parents” want to keep their felines healthy and happy, and I’ve updated my list based on what Karma-Kat demands and I know he needs. Check out the CAT-egorical Enrichment info! In the comments, please let me know which ones you already do — or share some feline favs from your furry crew!

National Love Your Pet Day: 15 Ways How Pets Show Love

At my house, I see how pets show love every day. If you wonder, how do I make my cat love me, it’s easy! February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day, but Valentine’s Day comes in just a few days. At my house, pet love happens EVERY day. Whether you love your pet with special attention, treats and toys or lap snuggles, pet love has become a given in our pet-friendly society.

In mid-2020, we multiplied our pet-love quotient by welcoming Shadow-Pup into the house. He arrived at a time when we really had no plans for another pet and struggled with the reality of dealing with Bravo-Dawg-s cancer (sadly, he lost his battle, but his love lives on). And Karma-Kat welcomed the pup, too–but for Bravo, the added attention/distraction helped enormously as he went through scary treatment, losing a leg, dealing with pain, and more. So I’m adding another way pets show love–by showing up when you need them!

Valentine’s Day: Pet Danger Advice

I’m often interviewed by media about various cat behavior and dog training issues, and of course, Valentine’s pet dangers top the list this week. Pet hazards are common when our normal routine goes out the window, so pet parents are vigilant around the holidays. Refer to this post about Easter dangers for pets.  And don’t forget that pet safety issues for Christmas are similar to those for Valentine’s Day but it’s always good to refresh our watch list.

Spoil Your Cat: How to Show Cats You Love Them

Cats are great actors and try to convince pet parents they’re already purr-fectly healthy and happy. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to think “outside the litter box” and find special ways to love your cat.

Recently, I’ve received a boatload of emails with product suggestions for spoiling cats with healthy fun. So check out some of the offerings–and in the comments, add suggestions of your own! Then share the blog far and wide to spread the kitty love!

Pet Music Therapy? The Sound of Success!

Pet music therapy can help solve dog and cat behavior problems as well as offer physical therapeutic benefits. Our pets are attuned to sound and are incredibly sensitive to noises, including music. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, some pets with “stranger danger” issues are in for a rough ride. Pet music therapy can help. Read on for more tips.

Carbon Monoxide Danger for You and Your Pets

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It’s a natural by-product of fuel combustion present in car exhaust and improperly vented furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, fireplaces, and tobacco smoke. It can quickly kill people as well as their pets. Children and pets have died in as little as 15 minutes inside running cars while parents shoveled snow outside the vehicle, unaware of the blocked tailpipe.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself…and your pets.

UPDATED AGING CAT BOOK DISCOUNTED!

I’m delighted to announce the release of the 2024 edition of COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT. This book, when released, received multiple awards from the prestigious Cat Writer’s Association. I got the rights back after the first edition, published by New American Library/Penguin Books, and released an updated version first in 2010, and again in 2017. But the latest 2024 version offers the most comprehensive revisions and updated material.

Learn more–and how to get deep discounts on the Ebook, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

6 Easy Fresh Breath Tips & How to Brush Doggy & Kitty Teeth (Without Getting Bit!)

Do you brush dog teeth? How about brushing cat teeth? The AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February to help prevent pet dental problems.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

But it’s never too late (or too soon) to get your pets’ pearly whites checked out by your veterinarian. Often the doctor has some great tips for keeping cat teeth clean and dog breath at bay, including how to brush doggy teeth.

Does the thought of brushing dog teeth make you cringe, roll your eyes, whimper, slink away–and feel guilty? You’re not alone. But once that puppy-sweet breath morphs into curl-your-eyebrows stench, it’s long past the time to address that stink-icity.

Pet Dental Problems: 9 Dental Issues You Share With Your Cats and Dogs

Pet dental problems rate as important to cats and dogs as your own dental issues are for you. Could your dog’s breath melt your glasses? Does your cat’s smile look like five miles of bad road? Pet dental problems are surprisingly similar to their owners’ dental issues. You may wonder how much does teeth cleaning cost for dogs and cats? February is National Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to check out your pets’ pearly whites. You can even learn how to brush your pet’s teeth in this post.

I write about pet dental health every year. These days I pay closer attention to Shadow-Pup because, for some weird reason, he likes rocks. That is, he picks up rocks whenever we go outside, brings them in, and then wants to play with and chew them. Shadow-Pup also raids the fireplace for lava rock embers, to do the same–and the pup wants to chew sticks! Oy! They already have lots of “legal” and safe chews, but he wants to play keep-away with rocks–and of course, I fear a broken tooth, or a tummy full of blocked foreign objects, or choking or worse. Urk!

While some cats drool when happy during petting, drooling cats and dogs point to dental problems. Hopefully, you won’t have that issue. Here are common dental issues you share with your cats and dogs (hopefully NOT eating rocks!), as well as ways to avoid them.

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships