Ask a dozen people on the street how you get the skunk smell out of a dog, and I bet half will say “tomato juice.” But real dog-savvy folks know that this traditional “cure” is anything but. The “secret formula” that really does work was created by a chemist named Paul Krebaum, who published his findings in Chemical & Engineering News in 1993. But the formula didn’t really enter the public consciousness until it was republished in Popular Science in 2007.
Here’s the recipe from Krebaum’s own website (which hasn’t been updated in over a decade):
In a plastic bucket, mix well the following ingredients:
1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 to 2 teaspoons liquid soap
For very large pets one quart of tepid tap water may be added to enable complete coverage.
Wash pet promptly and thoroughly, work the solution deep into the fur. Let your nose guide you, leave the solution on about 5 minutes or until the odor is gone. Some heavily oiled areas may require a “rinse and repeat” washing.
Skunks usually aim for the face, but try to keep the solution out of the eyes – it stings. If you have any cuts on your hands you might want to wear latex gloves for the same reason.
After treatment, thoroughly rinse your pet with tepid tap water.
Pour the spent solution down the drain with running water.
NEVER, ever, store mixed solution in a closed bottle, sprayer,etc. Pressure will build up until the container bursts. This can cause severe injury.
In yesterday’s The Spokesman-Review, Rich Lander offers a couple of fun stories about dog skunkings (fun because they didn’t happen to me, of course) and how this recipe has saved the day. He makes the fine recommendation that you carry a “de-skunking kit”
In case you have a scientific mind and would like to understand why Krebaum’s formula works, he offers a chemistry-based explanation here.