For decades, we’ve been told that tomato juice is the answer to skunk funk, that foul-smelling spray skunks emit when startled or scared into using their defense reflex. According to veterinarians, this home remedy for removing the malodorous scent from pets, livestock and even people is not the answer. So, what’s the secret to flushing the smell thoroughly the first time? If you want to address it effectively without the need for multiple applications, read on for the answer.
First off, a little background on the basics of skunk spray. Skunk gland secretions are oil based in nature made up primarily from compounds called thiols. The release of these compounds is part of a defense mechanism you could maybe liken to a squid inking in an attempt to drive back and/or get away from what is perceived as a dangerous threat. It’s nature’s way of providing a built-in protection system.
Tomato Juice Skunk Myth
According to veterinarian Gary Ryder, the use of tomato juice is a common myth he is forced to deal with regularly from concerned pet owners who call for a recommendation to alleviate the stench. In relation to use of the juice, Ryder says, “They don’t work very well, and then you end up with a dog that smells like skunk and tomato soup.” Wow, that’s appealing — NOT!
Effective Skunk Scent Removal
Instead of using tomato juice, Ryder recommends a solution of 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. The dish soap he recommends personally? Why, Dawn, of course. Dawn is known for its effective removal of grease and oil, which is what has made it so popular over the years in the rescue and cleanup of wildlife exposed to oil spills.
Skunk Spray Treatments
Further recommendations by Ryder include wearing clothes you don’t mind getting stained (or even discarding) while bathing your pet. As you can imagine, it’s a messy job. The use of gloves is also suggested. Apply the solution from head to tail, avoiding the animal’s eyes, and massage in thoroughly. While it may be difficult, if not near impossible, try and leave the solution on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing. The longer it’s on, the better it will work.
Skunk Spray Complications
If your pet is dragging its face on the ground or rubbing its eyes, it’s likely it took the brunt of the spray to the face, causing irritation. If you notice this behavior, rinse the animal’s eyes with saline solution (contact lens, artificial tears or eye wash) and rinse their mouth with cool water. While usually more of a nuisance than anything else, there is the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction to the spray. Keep a sharp watch for pale gums, labored breathing and lethargy after the event. Should they display any of this behavior, seek medical attention immediately.
Source: L.A. Times