get skunk smell off

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!”

Scope Mouthwash:

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.”

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  1. judith
    North Carolina

    I never found tomato juice effective, but I swear by the Hydrogen peroxide mix. One of my dogs was skunked several times when we lived in Texas and that was the only thing that worked. Since our dogs are allowed on the bed, this was VERY important.

  2. Simon

    PLEASE CLARIFY THIS: The article first states “tried the Massengill. It works!”
    and then states “diluted Massengill feminine hygiene solution”. Therefore, I assume the Massengill liquid should not be used full strength, but should be diluted before using – but the article gives no further details. Please clarify – to what extent, in what proportions should the Massengill solution be diluted before using?


  3. Lee
    New Jersey

    My husband and I have a long history with standard poodles and at least once a year one of our dogs would meet up with a skunk in our yard. In desperation, one night I tried catchup and applied it as I would shampoo. It worked beautifully and it was so easy to use. I always keep catchup in the house.

  4. GWC

    How much Massingill and how much water?

    I took my little dog out on a leash one night and as he turned the corner of our breezeway he came nose to nose with a skunk. Both were startled and backed up. Luckily, I was able to lift my little one up and get into the house. The skunk left but later, I smelled him or another one from the distance. Summer is coming and I’d like to know the correct directions just in case.

  5. Carol Abernethy

    Glad to know about the Scope cure. My thick coated, white dog was skunked a couple of years ago and i tried some of the remedies mentioned above, even bought several bottles of a commercial skunk smell remover in case there was a repeat … everything helped but nothing got rid of it. The first day, I was told by a groomer that nothing would really work and that the smell would come back every time he got wet for at least 6 months, which is exactly what happened. The best thing is prevention … i never let him out alone at night again! We were living in the mountains at the time and are now back in the city so hopefully, will not run into a skunk. Good luck, everyone!

  6. John
    Grand Island NY

    tomato juice and listerine worked for my golden retriever

  7. Neil

    The hand cleaners Goop & Gojo work well. They are made for oil based dirt and skunk spray is oil based.


    At Thanksgiving last year, we were discussing the very same topic. We were told that “Coca Cola” works better than tomato juice. As we haven’t had the need to try it yet, just food for thought.

  9. Ellie

    I, too, use the peroxide, baking soda, liquid dishwashing combo. But I discovered that instead of making a large amount of it, I could simply make a thick but spreadable paste & apply it to the affected area. I leave I on for a few minutes before washing it off outdoors with the hose.

  10. Judy

    If you don’t happen to have any of the remedies mentioned previously, white vinegar works pretty well.

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