Skunk Spray: Dog Remedies

Readers share their best tips for getting the skunk smell off a dog and making a natural bug spray for plants.

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by Unsplash/Bryan Padron

Learn what to do when your pet is the target of skunk spray: dogs, cats, and people can all use this remedy! You can also try this homemade bug spray for plants.

Skunk Spray: Dog and Fabric Remedies

My miniature dachshund, Scruffy, who loves all animals, but is not a good judge of character, recently had a very smelly encounter with skunk spray. Dog arrived at my door after playing in our orange grove, and he 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 skunk spray remedy for dogs 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 percent hydrogen peroxide (from drug store)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap (like dish detergent)

Using a two-quart bowl and spoon, dissolve the baking soda in the peroxide. Add the soap, mix, and pour into a spray bottle. Liberally apply mixture to pet’s fur, avoiding the eyes and mouth, and rub it in well. Wait 15 minutes and then completely rinse the animal with tap water. One treatment is usually satisfactory. This rinse will also safely deodorize your car as well as afflicted people.

–Marvin M. Kaplan
Casselberry, Ff.

Wanda’s Mostly Natural Homemade Bug Spray for Plants

My neighbor Wanda, a native of Kansas, is an herbalist and a wonderful cook. When her husband passed away, she decided that gardening would be too much for her in her seventies without him, so she gave me all of her herbs–French tarragon, French thyme, alba thyme, creeping oregano–some lovely rare ones. Among the herbs she gave me was this old-time herbal insecticide recipe that she brought with her from Kansas. Wanda warned me that it wouldn’t work on every type of bug, like cabbage moths and worms, but it does keep away aphids and can well deter Japanese beetles. She said that it was up to the user to experiment, so I gave it a whirl. Last spring it got rid of an aphid infestation on my chrysanthemums and dusty millers. Last fall it rid aphids from my spinach. “The trick,” she said, “is to spray it every morning for a week to two weeks until you start to see results, and then spray once a week to keep the bugs away.”

Homemade Bug Spray for Plants

  • 1 quart cool tap water
  • 4 green stalks and bulbs of winter onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
  • 2 1-quart canning jars with screw-on lids
  • 1 cup strainer (with a screen sieve)
  • 1 plastic water mister

Place peeled and chopped onion and garlic in a jar. Add red pepper and dishwashing liquid, and fill to the rim with water. Tighten the lid and shake vigorously. Place your concoction in the sun to brew for a few days. Store in the shade. When you need it, strain the liquid into your second jar or your mister. Add water to your old batch to replenish what you’ve taken. Eventually, compost what remains and start a fresh batch of natural bug spray for plants.

–Janet Guardiani
Cleveland, TN

Originally published as “Real Aromatherapy” in the June/July 1995 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.