Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why Skunk Stink Lasts and Lasts and Lasts

The stuff in skunk spray that stinks is a series of odorous compounds called thiols. Bonded sulfur and hydrogen atoms in thiols attach to the same nose receptors that sniff out hydrogen sulfide ("swamp gas"). Human noses are highly sensitive to thiols and can detect the smell at just 10 parts per billion.

Skunk spray also contains compounds called thioacetates, which slowly break down into thiols. When a skunk sprays a terrier, thioacetates in the spray (and absorbed into the skin of the terrier) break down and replace the old thiols, resulting in the skunk odor reappearing on the dog.

Water seems to rapidly speed the process of thioacetates breaking down into thiols, but part of the release seems to be time-sensitive. Getting a dog wet repeatedly over several days will not "drain off" all the thioacetates.

No matter what you do, it will take about a month or even 6 weeks before skunk odor disappears off a well-dosed dog.

For more information on skunk spray odor remedies and toxic-shock syndrome in terriers sprayed by skunks underground, see >>


Anonymous said...

Well, not all human noses are super sensitive to skunk spray....I always suspected I had a poor sense of smell, people reacting to odors that never bothered me at all. Then I got sprayed directly by a skunk(trying to get a photo of one after releasing it from a cage trap--note-to-self; bad idea!), yellow, mucusy stuff splattered all over me. All I detected was a heat sensation. I washed it off in a creek immediately, to no avail. I definetly have no sense of smell! But everyone else in my family did, and I was banned from their prescence for some time! I also had a dog that was part wolf get sprayed--he had quite a lot of natural instincts(no pun intended), and he wallowed in some black muck in a swamp until he was totally coated with it, right after he got sprayed. Then he lay in the sun all the next day; the mud dried and flaked off, and the odor was mostly gone--or so I was told by others!

Ark Lady said...

I see you recommend skunk remover on your other page but Massengill brand feminine douche (not kidding here) has been effective in removing the stink fast and effectively.

sassanik said...

My cat got sprayed this past 4th of July and it seriously did take over a month for the smell to fully wear off!

Seahorse said...

I'd be tempted to shave my dog down to the skin. Would that take care of the stench, or does the smell stick to the skin, too? If that was the answer I'd do it in order be able to continue to enjoy my dog's company.


Anonymous said...

Audie (literally) caught a skunk in the chicken coop last week. Since he had it by the throat, most of the spray hit his left rear end and feet.

The acid and stench were still strong enough that it made both of us tear up and cough when I cleaned him off with peroxide and baking soda in the shower.

He still has a residual stink - but the hens are safe ;-)