Deskunking Your Dog

If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, you are likely to look frantically in your kitchen cupboards for something that you can wash her with that will neutralize and remove the overpowering smell. Usually this happens in the middle of the night, of course, since skunks are nocturnal creatures. Some simple chemistry will help you choose the right ingredients!

The old folk remedy for skunk smell removal is tomato juice. The reason this was passed down through the generations is that it worked! Skunk spray is alkaline, and acidic tomato juice will neutralize the alkaline odor. One of my dogs was once sprayed by a skunk in August when the garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and not having any tomato juice in the house, and it (of course) being midnight, I ran out and picked half a dozen tomatoes off the vine, cut them in half and rubbed them over the dog, who I had put in the bathtub. It worked! The only problem is that when she shook, tomato seeds and pulp flew all over the bathroom and it looked like a horror movie.

To make your own on-the-spot deskunk remedy, look for mild, acidic ingredients. The best choice is a mild, acid-based detergent, such as those made for washing wool. Infinity Heavenly Horsetail is one brand with a pH of 4.5, no synthetic perfume, and it works wonderfully. A rinse made of a mixture of 2/3 water and 1/3 organic apple cider vinegar could work, too, but make sure not to get such acidic ingredients in the dog’s eyes.

A number of veterinarian sites on the internet, and the book,
Storey’s Basics Country Skills, A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance
, recommend the following do-it-yourself recipe for deskunking your dog. Most
supermarkets carry all of these ingredients. Note that this is an alkaline recipe, so it works on a different principle than that of tomato juice.

1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon liquid soap
Wet the dog, and work the formula through their fur. Leave the mixture to et on the dog for four or five minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. Throw out any leftover remedy.

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago


Peter A.
Peter Anderson4 years ago

I work with a company that has a product Winning Colours. We have had great feedback on its effectiveness for de-skunking and it is gentle on the animal. You can see more at

Steven B.
Steven B.4 years ago

Our lab was skunked at 7am today, and again at 4:30pm. Used over the counter deskunk shampoo and failed in the morning. Used the Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and Dawn with mixed results this evening.

Dianne San Roma San Roman

My dog got stkunkked tonight and I ran to the store to get the baking soda. We had the Hydrogen Peroxide. It worked so quickly. He had just got groomed earlier today and now he smells just about the same.

Sarah Kremer
Past Member 7 years ago

The hydrogen peroxide works amazing (the effects really shine at 2 am) but I found that my dog needed another hydrogen peroxide bath a few days later to completley rid the smell... Also, any tips for clearing the house of the skunk stentch in January? Ferbreeze didn't work :(

Eileen Jackson
Eileen Jackson8 years ago

My dog got skunked the first time on April 1st at midnight 2004. I washed him in Tomato sauce since I didn't have any tomato juice. He shook and I spent the rest of the night cleaning the BR. He got skunked again and I had Oxyfresh pet deodorizer with Oxygene. I sprayed him in the face and chest where the skunk hit, and sprayed the rug where he wiped his face. The odor was completely gone. Nothing works as well as oxygene.

Nancy Kennedy
Nancy Kennedy8 years ago

Our dogs have gotten "skunked" several times. The tomato juice remedy is not that great - but a friend told me to use undiluted Downy fabric softener and that really did the trick. It need to stay on the pet for up to 30 minutes - then bathe as usual. Hope this is helpful to someone.

Terri A.
Terri A.8 years ago

this might take 2 people but i have successfully did this by myself , since when you grab a cat by the cuff of the neck, just like mama did when they were a kitten so you can control a bit there. but you must keep a hold of that area until the job is done. just beware thso cats are fast a dn can use thier hind legs. I used thick garden gloves. while bathing them. it helped protect me too

Terri A.
Terri A.8 years ago

deskunking your cat. this will not hurt the cat. but bathing her is a trick , since cats have issues with water, the best bet is to get a 5 gallon bucket. fill with solution grab your kitty by the cuff of the neck and lower her or him in the bucket of solution, let the front paws grab the rim of the bucket. by holding the rim the cat feels a little more secure. wash quickly. alot of meows will be noticably but this should do the trick. as long as the head and ears are out of the water. also this will give you some leverage but it will not hurt the cat, but the cat might get a little po at you after wards. Good luck

Lou Moore
Lou Moore8 years ago

everything is about dogs-my cat was sprayed-will this harm her if I can't catch her to bathe her? She is not going to let me bathe her.