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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

De-skunking your dog: be prepared with a kit

Hunters and hikers should be prepared for the day their dog gets on the bad side of a skunk. (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

Any hunting dog with gift for finding birds also has a nose for trouble. It’s in the contract you accept when pup joins your world.

That’s why I’m always prepared for the day my bird dog sniffs the business end of a skunk.

A dog that returns to the hunting rig after rolling in a steaming cow pie or wallowing in putrid roadkill is relatively pleasant compared to a cur that’s taken a full-bore load of skunk musk at close range.

In the 1990s, Eastern Washington University chemistry professor Jeff Corkill mailed a clipping from a chemical trade publication in which a group of unheralded chemists gave the world one of the greatest gifts since penicillin – a cheap, effective treatment for a skunk-sprayed dog.

The de-skunking recipe: One quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap.

Mix ingredients as needed – not in advance – when a skunk renders your dog unfit for human cohabitation. Apply to the dog liberally, using a washcloth around the face to keep the solution out of its eyes.

Let it work a few minutes and rinse thoroughly. In my wealth of experience, the odor will be neutralized and the peroxide does not change the color of the dog’s coat.

Some people prefer to bathe the dog again with a pet shampoo for good measure.

A de-skunking kit for your vehicle and at home assures that these essentials will be available when you need them. Buy a rectangular Tupperware-type container just big enough to hold two quart bottles of hydrogen peroxide, two plastic zipper bags with measured amounts of baking soda, a small plastic bottle with dish soap, a wash cloth, a small drying towel and a couple pairs of rubber or latex gloves.

I upgraded to this “double recipe” kit after a hunting trip in Montana when my Brittany and my buddy’s Lab found a skunk at the same time. Being able to deodorize two dogs avoids the coin flip to see who rides and who walks to camp.

Should your dog get sprayed, you can mix the ingredients in the plastic container and remove the odor in the field (if you have rinse water) without stinking up your rig.