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How to Get Sap out of Dog Fur
Is Tree Sap Poisonous to Dogs?
Some tree saps can be mildly toxic to dogs. Poisonous tree saps can irritate your pet’s skin and cause rashes and itching. When your pet nibbles at the itchy spot or scratches the tree sap spot, your dog might ingest some of the sticky substance. Licking is when mild toxicity can occur.
Other safe tree saps may not cause any adverse reactions in your pet when licked. However, the sap can cause debris or pine needles to stick onto your pet’s fur, irritating their skin and potentially causing allergic reactions and sores.
Types of Sap
Below you will find the tree sap types most common in the U.S. and their level of toxicity:
- Pine trees and their pine sap are mildly poisonous to dogs.
- Sycamore sap is not poisonous but can irritate your dog’s skin and mouth if they chew on the bark or leaves.
- Maple trees and their sap are non-toxic to dogs.
- Oaktree parts can be mildly toxic to dogs.
- Elm trees are not poisonous, although they have stinky sap that can cause an unpleasant smell if the sap lands on your pet.
- Dogwood trees are not poisonous to dogs. However, whether their blood-looking sap can cause milk toxicity symptoms is unknown.
- Douglas Fir trees (sometimes used as Christmas trees) produce sap that can irritate your dog’s mouth; however, it’s not toxic for your pet.
Many plants are toxic to pets, while others can cause mild irritations or an upset stomach. Identify the tree where the sap dripped from when possible so that you can do your research and notify your veterinarian when your pet is in a sticky situation.
Signs of Tree Sap Poisoning
Signs of poisoning can vary depending on the toxic substance. Here are the most common symptoms of toxicity in dogs:
- Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, inappetence
- Contact dermatitis displaying a rash and bumps
- Itching and swelling of your pet’s skin
- Lethargy and weakness
- Pale gums
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Lowered blood pressure or heart rate
- Signs of internal bleeding by vomiting blood or bloody stool
Keeping a close eye on your pooch is essential as some of these signs are easy to overlook. The sooner you contact your veterinarian and address these signs, the better. Your vet can medicate the pet and stop the acceleration of toxicity.
Poison Control Hotlines
In an emergency, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661. These numbers are helpful to keep on your phone or stuck to the fridge in your home so that your dog sitter or family members can access it if needed.
Removing Sap from Your Dog’s Fur: 10 Easy Steps
Save yourself from spending money at the groomer and use these household items to remove sap from dog hair:
1. Examine Your Dog’s Coat to Identify Affected Areas
Dog breeds have various hair lengths, and shorter hair will may be easier to clean. It’s possible to remove tree sap from long-haired dogs too. Be patient and take it one step at a time.
2. Soften Hardened Sap with a Blow Dryer
Softening the hardened sap will make it easier and less painful to remove. Hard sap will pull at your dog’s fur, causing discomfort. You can soften sap by using a hairdryer. Here’s how:
- Put the hair drier on the lowest setting. You risk burning your dog if you put it on hot or too close to your dog’s skin.
- Hold the blow drier about six inches away from your pet, directed towards the sticky stuff.
- Move the hair drier over the area until the sap softens and becomes sticky again.
- Some dogs are afraid of the noise from blow driers. Calm your pet with dog food treats, or learn how to get your dog comfortable with a drier.
3. Massage Oil into the Sap
Next, you’ll want to massage oil into the sap to soften and remove it from your dog’s fur. Use your fingers and saturate the area with lubricant. You can use any oily substance at home, as long as it is safe for your pet.
Here are some popular options that can help to remove sap out of dog fur:
- vegetable oil
- mineral oil
- olive oil
- smooth peanut butter (xylitol and sugar-free)
- CBD oil or CBD coconut balm
Avoid dish soap, harsh solvents, conditioners, or rubbing alcohol that is harsh on a pet’s skin. Your dog may be tempted to lick the affected area, so pet-safe oils are your best option.
4. Let the Sap Soak for 5-10 Minutes
Allow the oily substance to sit in your dog’s fur for five to ten minutes. The oil will loosen the sticky substance from the hair and skin. By massaging your pet for the duration of the oil soaking, you may be able to get your dog to sit still.
5. Work the Sap out of Your Dog’s Fur
Work the sap out of your dog’s fur using a wide-toothed comb or your fingers. You can wipe the brush or comb on a paper towel as the sap comes loose.
6. Use Scissors to Remove Sap Carefully
Sometimes stubborn patches of sap cannot be removed. You can start again from step one or carefully cut small sections of your dog’s hair with blunt-tipped scissors.
Tree sap close to your dog’s skin or soft areas like their ears should be handled carefully. If your dog is very active, you may want to wait until they’re very calm to remove sap from these areas. Or you can entrust them to a groomer who is accustomed to treating pets in a sticky situations.
Shaving your dog is not recommended. It could irritate their skin even further.
7. Check Your Dog’s Paws for Sap
If your dog has encountered tree sap in the wild, the chances are they stood on it too. Remember to check your dog’s paws for sap and follow the same removal process. A soft toothbrush can help get between your dog’s toes if its paw pads are sticky with tree sap, especially for dog breeds with hairy feet.
8. Bathe Your Dog with Pet Shampoo
Do a final wash of your dog with your favorite dog shampoo and conditioner to remove any oily residue. You can use warm water and a washcloth to brush the last remains of tree sap out of your dog’s fur.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a solvent and is also excellent for removing sticky substances like tree sap. As a final step (and to deter fleas), spray your pet with ACV. It’s safe for pets and can also soothe itchy dog skin.
9. Dry Your Dog Correctly
It’s essential to dry your dog after its bath. Some dogs dry quickly with a towel rub, while pets with double coats will need dog blow driers to do the trick. Focus on cleaning your dog’s ears properly to avoid infection and water build-up.
10. Treat Irritated Skin
If the tree sap caused a rash and dermatitis on your dog’s skin, you’d need to treat it over the next few days. Contact your vet for antihistamines or antiseptic creams for dogs that can alleviate discomfort. Reapplying CBD oil or coconut oil can soothe your pet’s itchy skin and help it to heal.