Time spent outdoors is incredibly important for dogs (and their owners, too!) Whether you get out for a daily walk in your neighborhood, take your pup to a local beach or lake to splash in the water, or visit a favorite dog park to meet up with four-legged friends, fresh air and sunshine make our favorite canine companions very happy.
Perhaps one of the few downsides to outdoor activity with our dogs is the clean up afterward – we might need an industrial-strength vacuum to rid our cars of excess sand from the beach or find our homes covered with muddy paw prints after time spent in the yard.
Dogs can also get themselves in sticky situations (literally) by getting unwanted substances and debris stuck in their coats. Tree sap is one of the main culprits when it comes to enemies of dog fur everywhere.
A first-time dog owner might be overwhelmed at the prospect of getting pine sap out of fur, but it can be done effectively in a few easy steps and with household items you already have on hand.
If your day of outdoor adventure turned out to wreak havoc on your pet’s coat, read on for tips to rescue and restore her affected fur to its residue-free glory.
Six Steps to Removing the Sap from Your Dog’s Fur
Step 1: Start by Softening the Sap
By the time you discover sap in your dog’s coat, it has more than likely hardened. To ease the removal process, you will want to try to soften the sap.
The easiest way to soften sap is with a hairdryer. To keep your dog safe, turn the dryer to its lowest setting. It may seem like the highest and most powerful heat setting is needed to soften the sap, but this could also burn your dog’s delicate skin.
Therefore, be patient and use a low setting safely away from your dog’s fur. After a few minutes of drying, run your fingers over the sap to see if it has returned to a gel-like substance.
Step 2: Work it Out With Oil
Once you have finished with the hairdryer, the next step will include visiting your pantry. Grab any cooking oil you may have on hand, such as olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, or even avocado oil. If you are completely out of cooking oil, you can also try using smooth peanut butter in this step.
This part may get messy, so you might want to have your dog sit or lie on an old towel. Keep a toy or bone nearby, which you might need to keep them distracted.
Rub a generous amount of the oil into the sappy fur and massage it. Do your best to keep your dog from licking the area, as the oil needs to sit for a few minutes to help work the sap out of the fur. (This is why you need the toy or a bone to distract them!)
Once you have massaged the cooking oil thoroughly into your dog’s coat, you will need to let it sit for a few minutes. Keep a close eye on your dog so she doesn’t run and jump onto any upholstered furniture and coat it with unforgiving oil stains!
After the oil has been sitting for a few minutes, you can use both your fingers and a comb to gently work the sap out of her fur. This is a slow and methodical process of “picking” at pieces of sap, and if they are not easy to remove, you may need to add more oil and let it sit longer.
The process can be repeated as many times as necessary to get all of the sap out of your dog’s coat.
Step 3: Make Cuts When Needed
Many owners are reluctant to take the scissors to their pooch’s fur, fearing they might cut too close to the skin or end up with an unsightly bald patch. Bear in mind that fur will grow back, and the spot won’t last forever, especially if the stubborn sap won’t come out with the oil method described above.
Make sure you are in a well-lit area to see what you are doing and avoid rushing to make cuts. If your dog is antsy and will not sit still, try again later at a time when they have settled down or are more relaxed. If possible, have another family member hold the dog still while you make the cuts.
Step 4: Wash It All Off
After the sap removal process, your dog will need a bath to remove oil and residue from her coat. Cooking oils should not harm your pet’s skin, but some dogs are especially sensitive, so you want to play it safe and get them cleaned up.
Plus, the oil in their fur could leave residue on your carpets, floors, and furniture.
Always use sensitive products formulated for dogs when you bathe them; ask your veterinarian for the best products for your particular breed.
Step 5: Pause for the Paws
You may be so distraught to find sap in your dog’s fur that you forget to inspect elsewhere, but paws can certainly get coated in sap and other debris.
If you find sap on their paws, use the oil method described above to try and remove the sap and then gently wash them. If you cannot get sap out of the tiny spaces between paw pads, make an appointment with your vet. Owners should never try to cut fur out of these sensitive areas.
Step 6: Smother Them With Love!
Removing sap from fur is difficult for both dogs and their owners. Once it is over, give that pup a well-deserved belly rub!
Other Tips for How to Get Sap Out of Dog Fur
Here are a few more tips if you are still having trouble getting the sap out of your dogs fur.
Vinegar and water: Yes, mix vinegar and water. Vinegar is a solvent and is good for removing sticky substances. Apple cider vinegar is safe for dogs and won’t hurt them if they lick the area as you work. Remember that vinegar is not a smell a dog finds pleasant, so they may struggle a bit when they start smelling it.
Smooth peanut butter: When we talked about using cooking oil for sticky stuff, we mentioned peanut butter. Take a tablespoon of peanut butter and rub it into the dogs fur. Remember, dogs love peanut butter, so you have to work fast – before they lick it all away.
Mineral oil: You can also loosen the sap and sticky residue using mineral oil. Apply it to the affected fur area and let it sit for several minutes.
Above all, make sure whatever you use is safe for your dog. Always avoid baby oil, Goo Gone, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, cold cream, or any other potentially fatal substance for your dog.
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