Out With Your Dog: De-skunking a dog ain’t fun or easy
Free Press Pet Columnist
Editor’s note: “Out with your dog” is a monthly pet-friendly column, in which Free Press writer Caitlin Row will discuss the trials and tribulations of loving her family pet. A variety of pet topics (one each month) will be explored — from pet-friendly hotels to pet estate planning, and everything in between. Have a topic you’d like discussed? Want to weigh in? Email email@example.com.
When I first saw my fluffy, little, puff-ball puppy almost six years ago — more resembling an owl than a dog — it was love at first sight. She licked my nose. I named her Juliette and brought her home.
She stands guard when she hears strange nighttime noises, loves to pull me up hills and has a serious thing for squirrels. And like all family dogs, she’s introduced me to many interesting (and sometimes disturbing) issues over the years. Doggy mouth warts, for instance, are no picnic and they have to be surgically removed! I’ve also returned home during her adolescence to about 20 partially munched DVDs scattered across the living room floor.
And most recently, we got skunked — a right of passage for dog owners everywhere, and one I’ve been lucky enough to avoid … until now.
I’d like to mention that, being relatively new to the area, I naïvely thought skunks didn’t live in Grand Junction. I’ve just never seen one. There have been lizards, rabbits, birds, even disgustingly big spiders stepping across my yard… But, a skunk?! This little stink-bomb managed to squeeze through our seemingly impenetrable backyard fence, where it squirted Juliette point blank in the face with an odoriferous, brown splash of awfulness. Within seconds, the stench made my eyes water from the second-story deck and Juliette was slick with the glandular excretion. An awful, awful, awful smell … She ran around in circles, rubbing her face on anything in sight — the grass, the chair, the deck, you name it.
More than a week later, there are still brown streaks on the deck rug where she rubbed her head. And though faint, she definitely still smells, especially when her fur gets wet.
That said, I did seek out a variety of home remedies and tried all of them — tomato juice (which in the end, seemed more of a mask than a cleaning agent, and she tried to lick it off her fur), a diluted vinegar rinse (which she did not try to lick), and a soapy paste with easy-to-use ingredients at home.
When I Googled “skunk scent removal,” I quickly landed on Dogs.about.com, which made this unique suggestion: “In the plastic container, combine 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Add lukewarm water if needed (for larger dogs). Mix ingredients well. The solution will fizz, as a chemical reaction is occurring. Use immediately — do not store.”
According to this handy website, the concoction is “all thanks to chemist Paul Krebaum, who developed the recipe in 1993. Skunk spray is very oily and contains sulfur (hence the stench). This recipe causes a chemical reaction that breaks up the oils and neutralizes the odor.”
Well, we didn’t have baking soda on hand, but the watered-down, hydrogen-peroxide/soap mixture seemed to work better than anything else. It was difficult to apply anything to her face in fear that it would get into her eyes, but a week later she smells significantly less and her lips are healing.
Here’s another fun fact — when dogs are sprayed by skunks in the face, they may develop mouth/lip lesions due to the corrosive nature of skunkiness. There’s nothing you can really do to avoid this, my vet said, and it heals on its own.
For complete directions on how to de-skunk at Dogs.about.com, visit http://bit.ly/11UdIZh.
Have any unique tips on how to remove skunk odor from dogs, children and furniture? I’d love to hear from you! We’ll print the best de-skunking suggestions in next month’s column. Just email ’em over.
Caitlin Row lives in Grand Junction with her dog, Juliette. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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