My smelly summer ritual and the lessons learned from it

Posted By elaine on June 9, 2010

Every year it happens.  It is pretty much a given that at one point in the summer one or both of my Bernese Mountain Dogs will end up on the wrong end of a skunk.  

Last summer while on a leisurely evening walk my pack was hit by a roadside stink bomb. It started when Gilda saw something move in a nearby ditch and before I could lock the retractable leash she pounced. 

In an instant she regretted her decision.  What looked like a fun animal to harass fought back and we all paid the price for her decision and my slow “trigger” finger. 

Soon all the dogs were rolling on the ground trying to get the stinging and stench from the little skunk’s spray to stop.  While we all got a little “mist”, Gilda took a direct hit to her face and neck and she was in misery for the rest of the walk back home.

I would like to think that Gilda learned her lesson, but I know that if she sees a skunk on our walk tonight she will once again engage in a battle that she won’t win.

During warmer months dog/skunk contact is pretty common and owners are often left trying to figure out how to get the stink out of their roommate’s fur. 

I can tell you as a long time dog owner and breeder of  big furry Berners living in the country I have tried just about everything to get the smell out.  Nothing I have tried eliminates the skunk smell, but I have been able to make it subtle enough to live with. 

One thing to remember skunk spray intensity varies from skunk to skunk and just how much your dog gets on him will dictate the end result of the smell removal process.  A really pungent skunk’s spray will linger for months and will be particularly noticeable when your dog gets wet.    

I have tried a lot of other home remedies, but there is one that seems to work the best, and it is not tomato juice! 

I mix a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap (dog shampoo works too!).  I put it on the area where the skunk spray is and I wait about four minutes and then thoroughly rinse. 

This mixture tends to dry out coats and since it has peroxide in it I worry there could be some fading in darker coats, so I use it sparingly on my show dogs, putting it on only on areas where the skunk spray is at.   I also make sure to re-wash with a dog shampoo and a good dog conditioner.  This keeps the coat soft and supple after using the solution.  So far I haven’t had any problems with coat damage. (TIP! Never use human shampoos because the dog’s PH is different than ours and it isn’t good for their fur.). 

If the spray is particularly bad I will use a commercial skunk shampoo like “Skunk Off” in place of the regular shampoo.  “Skunk Off” also has a spray that works pretty well.  It is a helpful item if your dog gets nailed in a time or place where a bath is impossible.

Unfortunately, the skunk often sprays in the face area.  If  your dog gets hit in the eyes you may want to rinse them out with saline solution or cool, clean water to help with the discomfort.  Also before you wash their faces with above solution or shampoo make sure and cover their eyes.  If you have to really soap up their face I suggest putting an ophthalmic eye ointment in the eyes first.

Lastly the peroxide solution was created by chemist Paul Krebaum, and he was never able to patent it because it creates a gas and can’t be bottled, so only make what you will use because it can’t be stored.

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