An encounter with a skunk is a fairly common occurrence for dogs who get to run around in the woods. If the dog is too curious, the skunk will protect itself with its most potent weapon. And then you’ve got a problem: how do you get skunk smell off your dog? One reader offered an unusual remedy for this tricky situation.
Can You Get Skunk Smell Off with Massengill Douche?
Q. Years ago, while working in accounts payable at Texas A&M University, I would see bills for cases of Massengill douche powder for the vet school. Curious, I asked what in the world the vet school did with it. I was told that when students had to deliver a dead calf, the odor was indescribable and pervasive. Massengill would cut it. How they discovered this, I do not know.
When I moved to the country, I had two dogs get too friendly with a skunk, remembered this, and tried the Massengill. It works!
A. We first heard about using diluted Massengill feminine hygiene solution to remove skunk smell several years ago.
Another Solution That Works:
Massengill is not the only way to get skunk smell off a dog. Another popular remedy for this problem is a home-made solution developed by chemist Paul Krebaum in 1993: one quart of fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and one or two teaspoons of liquid dishwashing detergent. The ingredients should be mixed in an open container. It will foam and should be applied to the affected areas while still foaming. Don’t try to store it: this mixture could explode if contained.
The Humane Society of the United States offers simple instructions on how to apply this solution to your dog. Be sure to do this outside, so you don’t bring the skunk smell inside! You’ll want to wear rubber gloves or, better yet, disposable latex gloves to protect your hands, and you’ll want to be ready to lather the dog up with shampoo after the treatment.
Other Home Remedies to Get Skunk Smell Off a Dog:
We have heard from other readers about their favorite old-time remedies. We suspect none works better than the solution detailed above, but here are some options:
Tomato Juice Bath:
Q. I read in your column about getting skunk smell off a dog. I had a dog that got skunked several times and the best natural remedy was plain tomato juice. I soaked him in it for about ten minutes and then washed him off with a dog shampoo. This eliminated the smell immediately. Maybe this will help someone.
A. Many other readers recommended tomato juice for removing skunk smell, but keep in mind that tomato juice may stain light-colored fur:
“When our dog tangled with a skunk years ago, I asked a neighbor with a PhD in chemistry. He said, ‘That’s an ethyl mercaptan; wash him with tomato juice.’ It worked, but a dog sleeping beside the bed smelling of tomato juice is no picnic either!”
One person was out camping when his dog met a skunk. The only tomato product within reach was a bottle of catsup, but it worked.
Another reader recommends cheap pure tomato juice rubbed on the dog, left for a few minutes, then washed off. She adds,
“This also works on firemen who come home smelling like smoke. My husband is a firefighter, and whenever they have a fire, his hair and mustache always smell like smoke. For the first year of our marriage we’d wait for the smell to wear off. Then we tried the tomato juice remedy, and it worked!”
Another reader reports a different technique:
“Our golden retriever got sprayed a while back. My wife decided to use the tomato juice method, but the one with the fur didn’t like it at all. My wife was splattered with juice; the dog was a mess.
“I called our vet and he laughed so hard he couldn’t talk. When he recovered, he said to put Scope Mouthwash in a spray bottle and spritz her all over. It worked. She had not a hint of smell after that.”