Dear Lisa: My Chow Chow just met "Pepe Le Pew." Need I say more? I gave him a bath but he still stinks. I've heard of some other remedies, including a tomato juice bath, but what really works to rid of the skunk smell from his coat? --Odiferous in Ohio
As dog owners we all have our favorite "skunking" stories. Mine includes my dog's facial skunking the morning my grandmother came to visit my new home for the first time. I brought my squinty-eyed dog into the basement until I could bathe her later, after my luncheon. Big mistake! By the time Grandma arrived, my house had lost that "lemony-fresh" smell. What replaced it could only be described as pungent enough to wrinkle the nose of an old Swiss woman.
Rule number one: Do not bring the dog in the house if you can avoid it. As long as the skunk oil remains on the dog's coat, it will remain in the air that you breathe. Getting a proper remedy to remove the oil as soon as possible is the key to fresh air.
Over the years I have tried several remedies including the popular Bloody Mary mix (hold the celery) to pour over my dog's head. While these homemade remedies are great for masking the odor they do not eliminate it.
The Best Solution
I don't remember when or where I learned about the following solution but the first time I used it, it was an instant success. The recipe is as follows:
1/4 cup of baking soda
1-2 teaspoons of mild dishwashing detergent like Ivory Snow
1 quart of 3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide solution
Mix in a bucket and use immediately
Work the foaming mixture well into the coat
Leave on for five minutes
Rinse with warm water
Follow with dog shampoo if desired
The quicker you can get the dog in the tub the better the result since the oil hasn't saturated into the hair yet.
Be careful around the dog's eyes as this is a potent formula. Don't use a higher than 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution as it may burn. Mix it fresh, use it and discard it. If you store this mixture in a closed container it will explode. The hydrogen peroxide may bleach the coat (think bleached blond) so be careful on those black dogs. The less time the solution stays on the less likely for bleaching. But ultimately the choice is yours -- a bleached beauty or a wrinkled nose.
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.