One effective neutralizer of skunk spray is a well-known peroxide/dish-detergent/baking-soda recipe. It's popular because it works. But peroxide is toxic to tissue, and it induces vomiting. Less caustic alternatives for eliminating skunk smell on dogs exist, although they might require repeated applications.
Tomato juice is another common home remedy for skunk odor, but here's something you should know: tomato juice won't eliminate the skunk odor. Instead, the juice will mask the odor by covering it with a different one. Tomato juice can be a good temporary solution if your dog gets sprayed while out camping and you want to wait till you get home to try a more effective solution. To try this, simply bathe your dog in tomato juice, massaging it into the hair and skin. Do not rinse.
Other Home Remedies
A mixture of vinegar and water is suitable for cleaning some things that have been sprayed by a skunk, and it works just as well on hair and skin. Mix 1 part vinegar into 4 part water and wash your pet. This is the same formula you'll use to clean surfaces in your home. Rinse your pet well and wait for the vinegar smell to dissipate -- usually in just a few minutes. That will tell you whether the vinegar alone was enough or you need to try something else.
Many commercial shampoos available to treat skunk odor do little more than just cover it the smell. When shopping for a skunk-busting shampoo, look for one with a bio-enzymatic formula, which will help break down the skunk oils present on your dog's skin and hair, causing the smell.
Rushing to the groomer as a first step might not be a good idea. In fact, many groomers won't even take dogs sprayed by skunks unless they have already been treated at home by their owners. But if you have tried tomato juice or vinegar and the smell persists, going to the groomer may be the next appropriate step. Just keep in mind that many groomers will use the hydrogen peroxide formula to get rid of the skunk smell -- so if this concerns you, ask in advance.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.