Get Skunk Smell off a Dog, Tires in the Garden, Natural Bug Spray and More

Readers share their best tips for getting the skunk smell off a dog, making a natural bug spray, using tires to hold mulch, hauling boards and more.

| June/July 1995

Deskunking a Dachshund

My miniature dachshund, Scruffy, who loves all animals, but is not a good judge of character, recently had a very smelly encounter with a skunk. Arriving at my door after playing in our orange grove, Scruffy looked miserable and his odor was completely unbearable. My wife and kids shouted, "Wash him with tomato juice!" After enduring a tomato juice bath, Scruffy was still putrid. My wife shouted, "You're a chemist. Do something!" Fortunately for Scruffy and my family, crisis management and industrial chemistry are my specialties. I remembered reading a news piece by Mr. Paul Krebaum in a recent issue of Chemical Engineering News (October 1993) about a colleague of his who had developed an effective homemade nontoxic pet "deskunker" which totally removed the scent from his cat. After frantically searching for the magazine, I finally found the recipe and followed the easy directions.

I dumped baking soda into household hydrogen peroxide and added a dash of liquid soap. After donning a pair of rubber gloves, I sprayed Scruffy with the concoction and rubbed it into the mortified dog's fur. It worked within minutes, and our joyful pet, formerly banished to the garage, was returned to the house odor free.

Nature has equipped the skunk with a powerful chemical-warfare system. The little terror can spray its molester with an aerosol mist from its anal glands containing very smelly sulfur compounds called mercaptans. Anyone who has lived near a coral fired electric plant or a smoke-belching chemical factory has probably smelled sulfurous odors. As the Environmental Protection Agency frowns on these noxious emissions, industrial chemists and engineers have perfected numerous "scrubbing" solutions and devices for ridding the air of such toxic fumes. Industry has used caustic hydrogen peroxide solutions to decompose its sulfurous wastes into harmless and odorless by-products. By substituting baking soda for lye and reducing the peroxide concentration, pet owners can have a safe remedy if their dog or cat should have an unfortunate encounter.

My vet has assured me that this remedy is nontoxic when used externally on either a dog or a cat. Of course, the animal must not be allowed to drink the solution and the owner must avoid spraying the pet's eyes and mouth with it. The solution should be prepared fresh and not stored.


1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap

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