By Dr. Dan Meakin
You’d think that if you discovered the hands-down, bar-none best way for dealing with a pet who has been skunked, you’d be able to sell your formula for a tidy sum and be set for life, right?
Wrong. At least, that’s not the way it worked for chemist Paul Krebaum, who found just such a magic formula a few years ago – and hasn’t gained anything but the gratitude of pet lovers for his troubles.
First the formula, then the story.
Take 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (available from any drugstore), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate for you science types) and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap, such as Ivory. Mix and immediately apply to the stinky pet. Rinse thoroughly with tap water.
The result is astonishing. Unfortunately, so will be the explosion if you made up the solution and then tried to bottle it! The merging of the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda creates lots of oxygen in a big hurry. This chemical reaction is key to how the solution works, but it’s also fierce enough to explode in a closed container. Which is why Paul Krebaum hasn’t capitalized on his discovery. There’s just no way to sell something you can’t put in a bottle. And it’s a shame, too, because the man deserves some kind of reward. The stuff really works. Not like tomato juice, which dampens the odor a little and leaves you with a slightly less-stinky pink dog. Commercial preparations seem to fare a little better, but even with them it’s the passing of time that seems to finally do the trick.
But the hydrogen peroxide mix? Skunk be gone! The trick is the oxygen, which grabs the molecules that go into that horrid smell. Once snagged, the smell is neutralized. Simple chemistry, really.
Since Krebaum published his findings in a trade journal in 1993, his magic formula has spread far and wide, offered up by agriculture officials and hunting magazines, and touted by folks on the Internet. The Chicago Tribune gave him a good write-up in 1994 that got picked up by newspapers all over the country. In it, he called his mix a “free-gift-to-humanity type deal.”
I first heard about this formula a couple of years ago and read reports from many who raved about it. I made up the solution to see what it was like, but never got lucky enough to try it on one of my dogs. They just don’t seem all that interested in skunks when we’re walking in the wooded area near our home. Finally, a friend called to tell me her setter had been skunked and to ask my advice. At last! The chance to try out the mix.
I must admit she didn’t share my enthusiasm, at least not at first. She had already bathed the dog in soap and water. She had poured eight quarts of tomato juice over him. And still he smelled. So I told her about Paul Krebaum’s miracle skunk cure. A couple of hours later, Krebaum had another believer. The dog slept on the bed that night.
I suppose it’s not very practical to suggest that everyone who’s grateful to Paul Krebaum send him a few bits to make up for some of the money he’ll never make on his miracle skunk cure. So maybe it would be nice if you save this article for when you’ll need it, and when you do, say a few silent words of thanks to the man who’ll get you out of one stinky fix.
Dr. Dan Meakin is the owner of All Creatures Animal Hospital, 1894 Ohio Pike in Amelia. Call (513) 797-PETS.