Anyone who is a dog owner knows one of the hardest parts about grooming their four-legged friends is their ability to roll around in anything and everything. Having a body covered in fur can lead to some “sticky” situations when roaming the outdoors, such as getting tree sap all over themselves. But how do you safely get sap out of a dog’s fur?
The most common way to get sap out of a dog’s fur is by using olive oil. Warming the area with a hairdryer and then rubbing olive oil into their fur will get most of the sap out. After rubbing the olive oil in, it is important to wash your dog thoroughly with a natural shampoo.
Like any other grooming process, getting your dog to remain calm and sit still during the process may be the most challenging part of cleaning sap out of their fur. Here, we will provide tips to relax your dog throughout the process and steps on removing the sap without any tugging, pulling, or clipping.
How to Get Sap Out of Dog Fur
Getting sap out of a dog’s fur requires pet-friendly soap, extra virgin olive oil, and—if it has already dried to the pup’s fur some light heat from a hairdryer. Even though sap is sticky and might seem tough to remove, it isn’t hard as long as the dog owner has patience and can get the dog to sit still.
To successfully remove sap from your dog’s fur, you need to be calm and careful. Pulling too hard too much will hurt your dog, and they will not want to continue the process, which will make cleaning their fur ten times harder than it needs to be.
Follow each step below while talking to your dog softly, giving them praise for behaving and keeping the situation calm.
Blow Dry Hardened Sap
It is almost impossible to remove dried sap from fur without pulling and causing pain, so you may need to remelt the sap to make it more manageable if it sits too long in your dog’s fur and has dried.
To melt this sap back down to a manageable consistency, you will need a hairdryer.
- Keep the hairdryer on a low setting, and never place it too close to your dog’s skin. You will require a light warmth enough to start making the sap more tactile.
- Move the hairdryer back and forth over the area for about 45 seconds or until the sap is goopy again. You will start to feel it become sticky on your fingers, this being the point to start the next step of removing the sap.
Massage Olive Oil into the Fur
Pour a small amount of olive oil into your hand, then carefully massage it into your dog’s sappy fur. Be careful not to pull or tug at the fur. The sticky sap could tear the fur out of your dog’s skin if pulled too hard.
- You can use a comb or your fingers to brush the olive oil through once the sap is less sticky to saturate the fur and all the sap thoroughly.
- You may find you need more oil if your fingers are still sticking to your dog’s fur or the sap still seems thick or dried.
- An excellent tip to follow is to wipe the comb off onto a paper towel removing the oil as much as possible as you go. The more oil you can remove during the soaking process, the easier it will be to rinse it out in the end.
Olive oil is a natural ingredient and is not harmful to your dog’s skin or fur. Washing it out of their fur is important as they can get it onto furniture or other household items.
Removing Sap from Paws
If your dog has sap in its fur, it is essential you also check your pup’s paws for sap as well. Sap in paws can collect debris like sticks and small pebbles, which could cause your dog constant pain. In more serious situations, the debris can cut and cause infection.
Note: Remember…if sap has fallen onto your dog’s fur it is most likely going to be on the ground they walked on, so checking your dog’s paws is important even if they don’t seem to be in any discomfort.
If your dog does have sap embedded into its paws, removing the substance can be easier than it is from their fur. Simply take the oil and massage it into the paw thoroughly, let it sit for a minute or so, then rinse off.
Note: Some sap can be toxic for dogs to ingest, like pine sap. Try and get your dog cleaned up as soon as possible so they do not get the chance to nibble at it.
Wash Away the Olive Oil with Soap
Using a pet-friendly soap or shampoo, wash away the oil as you massage the fur. Continue running clean warm water throughout your dog’s hair until the water rinses completely clear. Using cold water will cause the sap and oil to become tougher and it will be harder to wash out, so warm water is the best option.
You may need to repeat this process multiple times. Removing oil from your pet’s fur can be difficult and can take quite a while. If after you have washed your dog’s fur thoroughly, the sap is still present, repeat the process but spend more time rubbing the olive oil into the fur and letting it sit for longer to allow it to work. Repeat the cleaning again as previously described.
Dry the Area
Rubbing the area just washed with a hand towel is usually the best and easiest way to dry that spot. If needed, you can once again bring out the hairdryer. Drying the area until it is damp—not soaked—is sufficient enough. The fur should dry fairly quickly on its own.
Drying a dog’s fur can be a tough challenge and especially difficult when you have a dog with long fur…believe me, I have personal experience with my golden retriever…hair everywhere. Something that might be helpful is an article I produced on 5 of the best ways to dry your dog.
Other Ways to Clean Away Sap from a Dog’s Fur
The steps above are not the only way to remove sap from your dog’s fur, but it is one of the best. However, other ways you can get rid of sap are:
- Mix vinegar and water and soaking the area. Vinegar is a solvent and will help remove sticky substances. (Opt for apple cider vinegar, as this is safer for dogs in case they try to lick the area.) It’s also important to realize that dogs are not keen on acidic smells and may struggle if you bring vinegar near to them. Check out this article where I tested some smells that dogs hate.
- Peanut butter is also a safe way to remove sap. Take a tablespoon of peanut butter and rub it into the fur thoroughly. Dogs absolutely adore peanut butter and so you’ll just need to make sure your dog doesn’t try to lick at it as you work!
- Trim the area of fur that won’t come clean or is hard to reach. This is often a last-resort option if the previous methods mentioned don’t seem to work for your pup’s fur. However, if your dog has a large amount of fur and you think it won’t cause any aesthetic trouble towards your dog you can carefully cut the hair off that has sap in. Hair tends to grow back slowly but with a long-haired dog, you won’t notice much difference.
Things to Keep You Mind as You Remove Sap from Fur
You will find many different suggestions and tips for cleaning your dog’s fur, so always make sure that you are using methods that are safe and beneficial for your situation and your particular pet.
Use Pet-Friendly Soaps and Oils
Dogs are notorious for licking. They lick to taste, tend to wounds, and dry out wet fur. If your pet is covered in sap, this will encourage them to lick for every one of these reasons.
With that said, make sure you are using pet-friendly soaps and oils that are safe to be licked and ingested. Using most regular soaps (including dish soap) can be toxic to dogs and cause digestive issues and other health problems.
Keep Your Dog Calm
Some dogs react well to calming, soothing music. Play some music while scrubbing down your dog, and it may help keep them calm throughout the process.
Additionally, if your dog is trying to run or being very fidgety, yelling will only make the situation worse. If you are all worked up, it will make your pet become worked up, making the process a lot more complicated. Talk to your pet in a soothing voice and be gentle when handling them.
You can even use a trick that is commonly used when bathing your dog. The use of peanut butter spread strategically on a nearby surface can help to distract them from what is going on. Dogs will often lick an area long after the actual treat has been eaten. using something like peanut butter gives a longer distraction than regular treats as they will just be eaten in seconds.
Consider Using CBD Oil
CBD oil has recently been introduced in some countries to help many health issues with humans and dogs. One thing it is suitable for is keeping your pet calm. Be sure to check the legality of using CBD oil as some countries have not approved its use.
Talk to your vet before giving your dog any type of medication or supplement, although CBD oil may be approved for use on dogs in many countries and is thought to be non-toxic there is still a lack of evidence on its use. This is especially important when your dog is on other medication so speaking to a vet is a priority when introducing any additional products whether they are considered natural or not.
Due to this lack of evidence, I would suggest it as a last resort scenario but if you were to use it then very small doses should be used.
Given the go-ahead, this could be an excellent way to keep a dog still long enough to remove the mess from their coat. This is especially good for anxious dogs or dogs who have gotten themselves into a lot of sap.
Can Tree Sap Hurt Dogs
There will be certain types of tree sap that can harm your dog’s skin or cause illness if ingested. It’s important to identify the tree producing the sap and follow this information up with a phone call to the vet.
There is often much more research around the dangers of sap on human skin and so a good rule of thumb is to assume that if it harms human skin it will also harm your dog. As an example, giant hogweed is dangerous for dogs and should be removed instantly from your garden. The sap causes both dog and human skin to become ultra-sensitive to UV sunlight and will cause painful burns on the skin. Having come into contact with some Giant Hogweed sap myself whilst gardening I can tell you that it is not the least bit pleasant and produced some nasty burns on my skin.
For some added information regarding poisonous saps and other dangers, check out this article from Gardeners World, this article highlights some of the dangerous plants to be aware of when gardening. Knowing this you should assume that this sap will harm your dog too. Check out this article on puppy-proofing your garden, which has some great tips on keeping your garden safe for your puppy.
Keeping your dog clean is a difficult task. Dogs love to run in the mud and investigate in areas covered in plants and shrubs. Dogs are naturally curious creatures and will get themselves into many messy situations throughout their lifetime—including getting into sap. Finding simple and safe tricks to clean your pup successfully will make your time together much more enjoyable for everyone!
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