How to Remove Tree Sap From Dog Hair

By Elle Di Jensen

Dogs get into some sticky situations, and there are few things stickier than tree sap. Your dog could step in a fresh, gooey blob of sap or get it matted into her fur just by brushing against a tree's trunk or rolling on the ground under its limbs. Thankfully, a number of home remedies and commercial preparations can solve this problem. Avoid using petroleum products, though, as they could be harmful.

Vet trimming claws
Let the groomer remove sap from sensitive areas, such as between Trixie's toes.
credit: humonia/iStock/Getty Images

Head for the Pantry

The best ingredients for removing tree sap from dog hair are oily ones, such as olive oil, peanut butter and mayonnaise. Saturate the affected area with the home remedy of your choice. You may need to rub it in to encourage the gums in the sap to dissolve, depending on whether it's fresh or has dried.

A blow-dryer set to the lowest warm setting may help with the softening process. Once the sap is soft, rinse the area with warm water and use a comb to gently remove the sap.

Commercial Options

If you prefer purchasing a product formulated specifically for de-gunking your dog, you'll find several of them at your local pet supply store. The benefit of opting for a commercial pet sap remover is that you know it's been tested. Because oil is an effective sap remover, commercial products for getting sap out of your dog's hair will be oil-based. Some are similar to cold cream and some are spray-on preparations but both are designed to leave your dog's hair soft and shiny.

What NOT to Use

When faced with the sticky mess of tree sap in your dog's hair, don't reach for detergents and household cleaners. They might be effective, but they would also be harsh on delicate skin. Also, even though petroleum products that work as solvents and degreasers would make quick work of matted tree sap in a dog's hair, they're dangerous. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, petroleum and petroleum-based products are poisonous to animals, whether ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Last Step: Grooming

Once you've succeeded in removing the sap, bathe your dog to ensure you've extracted every last trace of the sap as well as whatever you used to remove it. A professional grooming might be in order anyway, especially if the sap was stuck in a sensitive area such as around the eyes, in the ears or between the toes. If the homemade or store-bought remedies don't work, or the sap is in a difficult spot, don't attempt to cut the mess out on your own. Let a professional groomer handle the situation.