Tree sap is one sticky mess, especially when it gets in your dog’s fur. What do you do? You go out for a relaxing hike and come home with a sappy dog. It’s happened to my dog, Henry more times than I can count. Even if your pup is wearing dog booties sap happens. You take a break. Your dog lays down and suddenly you find your dog’s fur is sap-covered. Now what? Today, I’ll share with you how to easily remove tree sap from your dogs fur and paws.
*Updated: September 29, 2023
Budget tip: Thankfully, in most cases removing tree sap from your dog's fur is rather easy. It just takes a bit of patience and a little oil. However, if you need to call for assistance, it's still well worth the time you spend with your dog hiking. It's definitely worth a bit of sap removing time and it's good your dog and you. Just make sure your dog doestn't ingest any sap. Otherwise, it's an easy budget win!
Is tree sap bad for dogs?
Yes, many types of tree sap can be toxic for dogs. Plus, it can cause skin irritation for your dog. Therefore, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and remove the sap.
How to get dried sap out of dog fur?
Not to worry. You can still remove tree sap from dog hair even if the sap is dried. You’ll need to get the pine sap back to a liquid or sticky stage. To do this I recommend keeping your furry friend as calm as possible and:
- Leashing your dog
- Grab your hair dryer
- Turn hair dryer on low and let your dog get used to the sound and feel the warmth
- Hold the hair dryer at least 8-10″ away from the dried sap and keep the dryer moving (so it’s not too hot in one spot)
- Once the tree sap is liquid and back to sticky residue turn off the hair dryer (this should only take 1-2 minutes)
What if the dried pine tree sap is in a location I can’t reach with the hair dryer?
If you are in this sticky spot, then check to see how long the hair is in the area. Perhaps the affected area is a spot where you will be able to safely trim out the dried pine sap. However, if your dog is anxious or you’re nervous about this step, then simply call your groomer or vet. Either will be able to safely remove the sap.
How to get sap out of dog fur?
Again, you’ll want to focus on keeping your dog calm. Here are the steps to follow when you’re still at the sticky sap stage:
1. Leash your dog first
This prevents your dog from roaming off. Or in Henry’s case, trying to help me.
2. Massage an oil-based product into the sap area
- Smooth peanut butter (xylitol and chocolate free )
- Coconut oil
- Vegetable oil
- Olive oil (my favorite)
NOTE: I would avoid mineral oil and butter because they can cause issues for dogs. Also, avoid rubbing alcohol, Goo Gone, and other chemicals as they can be toxic to your dog.
3. Let the oil sit for 5-10 minutes
I know this is the hard part. You’ll have to keep your dog from trying to lick off what you just massaged into his or her fur lovingly. This is another reason why it’s good to have your dog on a leash. I like to do my best to keep Henry preoccupied during this time. So, if it’s close to dinner time, I feed him. Or you can play with your dog during this time for a distraction.
4. Comb the sap of your dog’s coat
Use a wide-tooth comb or brush to comb the affected area that is a sappy mess. This could take a bit of work, but the tree sap should comb easily out of the hair.
5. Towel the sap
As you work the sticky sap out to the end of the fur, wipe it out with a washcloth or paper towel.
6. Trim the stubborn sticky bits
If there are any little bits of sap that still remain at the ends of the fur, simply trim them out. Usually, Henry’s sap is all out by step 5. But I do realize that some dogs will roll. I’ve seen some dogs roll in pine needles or other gummy messes and ground in tree pitch. Thankfully, Henry hasn’t rolled in sap…yet. Those can take a bit more time, but the pitch can still be removed in the same manner.
How to remove sap from dog paws?
This does take a bit of work. Henry has done this a few times. Even when he’s been roaming our yard. I don’t even know where he found sap on our property. For some reason, he’s not telling either.
However, you can tackle this sticky mess too. Again, make sure your dog stays calm. Henry loves any massage. So, he’s all in for this step. Perhaps he searches for tree sap just to get more massages.
At any rate, you’ll simply massage olive oil (or the oil of your choice) into the sap affected area of the paw pads. I tend to massage Henry’s paws for 10-15 minutes. Perhaps this extra massage helps. Generally, during this massage time, the sap will start to flake off in my hand. I use a towel and finish clearing out the sappy mess.
NOTE: My favorite trick for sap in dog fur is olive oil is the oil! I love it! Even for dried sap. It leaves Henry’s fur shiny. Additionally, I don’t have to worry about him licking it. And the bonus is I get soft hands out of the process.
However, if the fur between your dog’s paw pads is long, it could take a bit longer. Although, this could be to your advantage. As you should be able to easily trim the sap-covered dog hair. Either way (oil massage or trim), always be cautious of your dog’s needs. If he or she is anxious, then back off. Or if you are nervous about this type of trimming of your dog’s fur, then call your groomer or vet for assistance.
Is there anything else that can help with removing tree sap from my dog’s fur?
You may also want to try giving your dog a bath. Make sure to use pet shampoo and conditioner. Pay close attention to the sap affected area on the coat.
Again, if you have difficulty or if you are nervous about washing your dog, your groomer or vet will be able to assist you.
What are the signs your dog is experiencing sap poisoning?
While many types of saps particularly tree sap are not terribly dangerous dogs, those that are can be extremely poisonous. You’ll want to call your vet if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms:
These symptoms will be red flags your dog has gotten into something toxic. You’ll want to act immediately and get your dog to your vet.
If you can’t get to your vet, you can even call the pet poison hotline for advice. Here’s their website. Their toll-free number is 855-764-7661. It’s a good number to plug into your phone, just in case.
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Summary of easy hack to remove sap from your dog’s fur
Yep, sap happens! Dogs seem to be great at finding the gummy messes. Unfortunately, many tree saps are toxic. Remember to watch for signs of poisoning. Don’t fret if the sap has dried. You can still remove it simply by bringing it back to a sticky stage. Then go by the steps to remove the sap. My weapon of choice is always olive oil. Thus, the bonus to olive oil is that it leaves Henry’s fur shiny, doesn’t hurt him, and moistens my hands too. I figure if Henry did a goofy thing, like get sap in his hair, then we both should benefit from an olive oil treatment.
While our furry friends can find the sappiest mess, thankfully we have solutions for their antics.