Oh no! Your pet got sprayed by a skunk. What should you do now? The first thing many people think of is tomato juice. Don’t bother, because it doesn’t work. I will explain why later in this article. So, if tomato juice won’t work, then what will? A 2% solution of vinegar will help a little, but it won’t really do that much.
You need to neutralize the skunk odor NOT mask it. Here is the formula to change the chemical structure of the compounds in skunk spray that make it smell so bad, and stick around for such a long time. The Formula was invented by Illinois chemist Paul Krebaum. By the way, this is not just for pets; it will work on you too, if you’re unlucky enough to get sprayed!
Skunk Odor Removal Formula
- 1 quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (found in any drug store)
- 1/4 cup Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap (like Dawn or Palmolive, but any similar dish soap will work)
* This solution must be mixed in an OPEN wide mouth container like a bucket. It will bubble or fizz profusely, so DON’T mix it or store it in a closed container or bottle. This formula will produce pressure in a closed container and cause it to burst. Use it as soon as you make it, because it will lose all effectiveness if it is stored. It must be freshly made in order to work properly.
* Wet your pet’s coat with warm water then thoroughly massage formula into pet’s coat. Be sure to massage it in very well so that you neutralize every trace of skunk spray. Be VERY careful not to get any of the formula into his eyes nose or mouth. You may use a wash cloth to CAREFULLY wipe it onto his face. Leave it on for about five minutes then rinse off thoroughly (do not get into eyes). Repeat if necessary.
Your Pet’s Eyes
Call your vet immediately if the skunk sprays your pet directly in the eyes. You will know because your pet’s eyes will be very red, irritated, and probably watery. The spray will make his eyes sting very badly. Your pet will not be permanently blinded but it is very painful.
What is Skunk Spray Made of and Why is It So Strong?
Skunk spray contains compounds called Thiols and Thioacetates. Our noses are very sensitive to Thiols, so sensitive in fact that we can detect then in parts per billion! Thiols smell so horribly noxious because of the sulfur they contain.
The Thioacetates in Skunk spray decompose very slowly into; you guessed it…..Thiols!
So the reason that Skunk spray has such staying power and lingers for so long is because of the slow decomposition of Thioacetates into Thiols. In essence you are getting “timed release” Skunk odor because of the slow release of Thiols.
Why Doesn’t Tomato Juice Work?
You may have heard that tomato juice is the magic potion to get rid of Skunk odor, but it isn’t magic, it’s just an illusion. It is an illusion because strong odors such as Skunk tend to cause something called “olfactory fatigue”. Olfactory fatigue happens when an odor binds very strongly to the odor receptors in your nose.
For example olfactory fatigue can occur if someone is wearing strong perfume and you are in the same room for an extended period of time. The odor receptors in your nose become fatigued and you stop noticing the smell, but if you leave the room for a while and return, you will notice the perfume again. The same thing happens with many other odors even strong cooking odors.
So when you use tomato juice, perfume or room or fabric deodorizer sprays on skunk odor. One strong odor is replacing another and it fools your odor receptors. So if you use tomato juice or a deodorizer on your pet, chances are YOU will think your problem is solved but it isn’t. Just ask a friend or family member if they smell skunk. They will!
What Do I Do About The Odor In and Around My House?
Clothing, fabrics or surfaces that can withstand bleach may be deodorized by using one cup of bleach per gallon of water. NEVER USE BLEACH ON YOUR PET!
You can also use the peroxide formula to remove the odors from washable items but please remember to spot check the item for color fastness.
If the odor has drifted into the air in your home, try to air out your house as much as possible, time and ventilation will remove the smell.
Any outdoor areas such as decks or concrete that can tolerate being bleached may be deodorized by using one cup of bleach per gallon of water. NEVER USE BLEACH ON YOUR PET!
How to Avoid Getting Sprayed
First of all never chase or corner a skunk! A skunk will give many clear warning signals before it sprays. If he feels threatened a skunk will stomp his front feet arch his back, turn and start to move away. If you do not move away or if you continue to threaten him, he will raise his tail and spray his “terrible perfume” as a defensive action.