How to Get Rid of the Skunk Smell on Pets

Nothing quite compares to the threatened skunk’s smelly calling card. When skunks are frightened or feel threatened, they release a spray containing a very strong and unpleasant odor. This odor is due to sulphur-like compounds called thiols. These smell like rotten eggs and, to make matters worse, most humans’ sense of smell is very sensitive to thiols. The idea that tomato juice can remove the skunk smell is nothing but an old wives’ tail. Tomato juice will not be effective in ridding your pet, the unfortunate victim of a skunk’s spray attack, from the smell. Instead, you need to target the oily residue of the spray in order to neutralize the odor.

Treating the Skunk Smell

1. Prepare to wash the pet outside. Don’t bring the affected pet inside, since you don’t want to bring the pungent skunk scent with it. Moreover, pets rarely like baths so there’s no use in getting your bathroom messy. Outside is best.

2. Gather the required ingredients. You will need 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and liquid dish detergent.The hydrogen peroxide and the baking soda work together to neutralize the odor. The dish detergent will help break up the oils in the skunk spray, since most liquid dish detergents are grease-fighting. The soap will also work to turn the solution into a “shampoo”.

  • This hydrogen peroxide and bicarbonate solution was invented by a chemist named Paul Krebaum, who uncovered the chemical reaction that resulted from these ingredients and the thiols in the skunk’s spray.
  • If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide on hand or can’t make it to the local drug store to purchase it, you substitute with a 2% vinegar solution. However, the hydrogen peroxide is the most effective cleaner for removing the skunk smell.
  • Make sure you have rubber dish gloves and old clothes.

3. Mix the three ingredients together in a pail. You’ll want to use 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1-2 teaspoons of the detergent. This specific mixture comes widely recommended and is considered the most effective and scientifically-proven treatment to remove the skunk smell from sprayed pets.

  • Note that if your pet is particularly large, like a large-breed dog for example, then you may need to double or triple the solution in order to have enough to wash your pet with.
  • Be prepared to use this mixture immediately after it has been mixed together because it is unstable. It is not a solution that can be made ahead of time and stored away.
4. Bathe your pet. Don’t rinse your pet wet first. The solution will work better if applied directly and concentrated. Apply the mixture to your pet’s dry coat from the collar back towards the tail. Make sure to work in the solution all the way into the skin. Take extra care when washing your pet’s facial area (it is a good idea to use a washcloth for this area). Cover each eye with a dry cloth while you gently and carefully wash around it. Do not get the solution into the pet’s eyes as the hydrogen peroxide can burn them.

5. Let the solution sit on your pet for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse the solution with tap water. Make sure the rinse is very thorough.

  • When you rinse your pet’s head, tilt his upwards so the solution does not trickle into the eyes. Instead allow the water to run back off you pet’s neck.

6. Repeat as needed. You may need to repeat the lather and rinse procedure up to three times for the smell to fully disappear.