If your dog is unlucky enough to be sprayed by a skunk, you're probably desperate to get the stink off him. But why skunks are stinky is important knowledge when trying to get the stink off. Most of the old-wives'-tales concoctions such as tomato juice don't work, and many products on the market don't clear the air as well as one simple homemade recipe.
What Makes Skunks So Stinky
Skunks smell because they have musk glands on either side of their anus. The musk stinks because of chemicals called thiols that make the musk particularly nasty. Thiols are the same chemicals that cause garbage and dead animals to stink. Skunks are capable of spraying other animals, including you, from a distance of up to 9 feet with great accuracy. The oils in the skunk's spray causes it to adhere to clothing and fur well.
Why Most Home Remedies Don't Work
Tomato juice, vinegar and water douche, and other home remedies don't work on skunk spray. They don't change the chemical composition of the thiols so they don't do much. The reason they seem to at some point is because your nose's olfactory sensors get overloaded and dim the stench to your brain. In other words, you get used to the stench. Someone who hasn't been around the skunk smell will readily smell it despite your trying such methods.
According to William F. Wood of the Department of Chemistry at Humboldt University, the solution you'll use on a dog sprayed by a skunk requires 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent. Variations of this recipe recommend mild detergent such as Ivory-brand dish soap, but others recommend Dawn-brand detergent to cut the oils. Regardless, prepare the recipe mixture only just before you'll apply it. Don't store it, as this volatile solution expands due to gas pressure and could explode if kept in a closed container.
Putting It to Work
Don't bring your dog inside. Instead, wear gloves and old clothes, and mix up a batch, or double the batch for big dogs. Soak your dog thoroughly with water, suds him up well with the solution, and rinse well. Do not get any solution near his eyes. Dry your dog off well with multiple dry towels. One drawback to this solution is that is might bleach his coat, but a lighter colored dog is preferable to a skunked dog.
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