Learn How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur: 5 Methods for Removing Pine Sap Safely

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Animals | January 4, 2024

Man wonders how to get sap out of dog fur and how to get sap off dog paws and asks is pine sap toxic to dogs and what are the 5 ways to remove tree sap from dog’s fur?

If you own a dog you may have wondered at some point how to get sap out of dog fur.

Healthy dogs should have access to open interior spaces to stretch out, exercise regularly, and be walked often in outdoor spaces, but tree sap can be problematic when trying to remove it from dog fur.

And, it’s not just pine trees, every current known species of tree life internally produces sap.1

Tree sap is kind of functions like blood to a tree in the sense that tree sap ferries vital nutrients to every part of a tree’s physiology. Every part of a tree can exude sap, depending on the species.

Fortunately, there are ways for how to get tree sap out of dog fur, that will reduce the frustration and time it takes to clean up your furry friend. This guide explains everything you need to know.

How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur (The Basics)

Trees, plants, and fauna produce beneficial oxygen, offer organic shade from sunlight, and have been scientifically proven to help lower local, ambient temperatures during heat waves.2

If you are a dedicated dog parent who walks their dog in either rural or urban areas often then you and your dog are bound to come across trees.

Graphics with text that shows how to get sap off dog paws.

Every tree species produces sap but some tree species produce toxic and poisonous sap. Contrary to popular belief, tree sap is not always organically safe for human consumption.

Some types of tree sap, like Maple tree sap, must be boiled and processed before it is safe for human consumption to prevent bacterial infections, sickness, and even botulism.3 It is a good idea to preemptively learn how to get sap out of dog fur because dried tree sap on dog fur can cause a lot of safety hazards for your pet.

Dried tree sap on dog fur can make your dog’s skin itchy or cause inflammation or rashes. Your dog could also develop gastrointestinal issues, bacterial infections, toxic reactions, allergies, or start vomiting if it licks or consumes the dried tree sap stuck to its fur.

Some species of tree sap is extremely pungent and bad-smelling, which can be torturous on the fur of dog since dogs have heightened senses of smell. There are some species of tree sap that are caustic and can actually burn skin once they make contact.

All you will need are common household products or store products you probably have in your home and patience and the patience to implement such products in strategic dog fur-washing routines. Having your dog learn some new behavioral adjustments via enhanced training techniques may be needed as well since some dogs get tree sap in their fur because they enjoy licking its bark.

The best way to understand the processes and cleaning techniques involved in learning how to get sap out of dog fur is to first learn a little about tree sap.

How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur

There are numerous methods for learning how to get sap out of dog fur, but the first thing you should do is to first calmly examine the area of irritation. Dogs are intelligent and can intuit emotion and intent, so try not to alarm them during your initial examination.

A good way to keep your dog calm is to offer it a treat before and after the examination. Assess your dog’s personality before you attempt to learn how to get sap out of dog fur.

Reassure your pet, give it small bites of its favorite snacks as you work, and always try to keep your pet calm and stress-free during the process. Use gentle and non-jerking motions when trying to clean off the sap.

Hardened tree sap will hurt if you try to remove it from dog fur, so your first course of action is to visually assess how bad the problem is before starting.

Step 1: Carefully Examine the Affected Area

You may have to learn how to get sap out of dog fur in several affected areas, so do a thorough visual examination of your dog to make sure that the sap is not clinging to only one area on your dog. You will do your pet no favors by cleaning hardened sap out of its fur in one area while letting it dry and harden for days in a spot you missed with your initial visual check.

You need to first assess whether or not the tree sap is still fresh and soft or dry and hardened. The harder and dryer the tree sap on the fur, the gentler you will have to be with your pet when trying to remove it since the process might take a little longer.

If the tree sap embedded in the fur is very soft, wet, and clingy to the touch then it will be easier to remove. You can probably use pet-friendly shampoo, water, and gentle hand grasping and massaging motions to remove the sap from the fur.

Remember to only use pet-friendly shampoo or soap during this process since shampoo products for human beings are too harsh for use with pets. If the tree sap is dried and hardened, then try to make your job as easy as possible by trimming the hair under the hardened sap.

Step 2: Trim With Scissors or Hair Clippers

The first lesson in learning how to get sap out of dog fur is to work harder, not smarter.

If your dog has long, frizzy fur, then it is going to take a lot of patience and soft, gentle hand massing to moisten, soften, and remove extremely hardened clumps of tree sap.

You could make your job a lot easier by removing as many large masses of dry and hardened clumps of tree sap as possible with scissors or hair clippers. Always consider safety and keep your pet as calm as possible before you start.

If your dog’s fur is long enough try to thread your fingers at the base of your dog’s skin under the clump of hardened sap. Then, cut the fur above your fingers with the scissors and under the hardened fur clump mass.

Work slowly and do not rush. Use pet-friendly or plastic shears that are not too sharp; never use sharp scissors when cutting your dog’s fur.

You can also use hair clippers, but using clippers will just cut the fur all the way to the skin and leave behind potentially unsightly bald spots.

Step 3: How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur: Use a Blow Dryer To Soften Hardened Tree Sap in Dog Fur

You can also use a good blow dryer to learn how to get sap out of dog fur efficiently. Only use the lowest heat setting and always keep the mouth of the blow dryer at least half a foot away from the hardened clump of tree sap that you are trying to soften.

Wave the blow dryer and keep it in constant motion over the area of the hardened tree sap clump. Don’t let the mouth of the blow dryer stay in one spot or hold it too close to your pet otherwise, you risk burning the skin or making the sap so hot that it burns your dog’s skin.

Monitor the mood of your dog if you opt to use a blow dryer in this circumstance. The loud and jarring noise of a blow dryer might upset or stress your pet, so reconsider using it if it will only make the circumstances worse.

Step 4: Use a Natural Solvent To Slowly Break Down Hardened Tree Sap Clumps in Dog Hair

There are numerous natural liquids and oils that can be used as natural solvents to break down and degrade the hardness of dried tree sap on dog fur. However, there are only a few that you can use that are non-toxic to dogs.

Olive, coconut, and vegetable oil are non-toxic to dogs. You can use any of these oils as natural solvents to slowly break down and soften hardened tree sap.

Alcohol is the best solvent for breaking down hardened tree sap stuck in dog fur, but it is toxic to dogs. Canine physiology cannot metabolize or digest alcohol, so if you use alcohol, you need to use small amounts, work quickly, and always stay with your pet to ensure they don’t lick the alcohol.

If you opt to use alcohol, your best bet may be to use a few topical applications of vodka to try to slowly massage and break down hardened tree sap clumps in dog fur.

Step 5: Comb Out Residual Tree Sap Clumps

After using some of the previously mentioned techniques, get a wide-toothed comb with rounded tooth tips and gently comb the affected area to ensure that you removed all residual clumps of tree sap. Comb through your dog’s fur gently and slowly because if any of the teeth snags on hardened tree sap it could pull against your dog’s skin.

You may need to continually dampen the area with water and soap as you comb through the hair. Wipe away any tree sap residue that builds on the comb with a paper towel as you comb through your dog’s fur.

How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur (Go to the Vet if Necessary)

Go slowly throughout this process, wash your dog thoroughly, dry it, and then visually assess the cleaned areas. You need to make absolutely sure that you have removed every residue of tree sap from your dog’s fur.

If you miss even a small amount of hardened tree sap in your dog’s fur, then your dog’s physical irritation will only continue. When in doubt, your best option may be to just go to the vet and have them remove the tree sap for you.

What Is the Best Strategy For Removing Tree Sap Clumps From a Dog’s Head?

If your dog gets tree sap stuck to its head, nose, eyes, face, or ears, then your best option is to take it directly to the veterinarian. Your attempts to use DIY methods to remove the tree sap yourself will probably only make the problem worse or cause more harm to your pet.

A professional vet will have better resources to remove the tree sap safely in such circumstances.

What Techniques or Objects Should Not Be Used When Removing Tree Sap From Dog Fur?

Never use sharp objects or very sharp scissors when cutting your dog’s fur to free it from hardened tree sap. Make sure that the combs you use have rounded tooth ends or rubber tips on each tooth end before using them.

Graphics with text showing the techniques for removing tree sap from dog fur.

Don’t use human-only or harsh chemicals or products that were not designed for use on dogs. And whatever you do, don’t forget to reward your dog after removing the tree sap; the entire process was probably very stressful and anxiety-inducing for your pet.

Don’t forget to give your pet aftercare affection, treats, walks, and reassurance.

How To Get Sap Off Dog Paws

The techniques that you learn for how to get sap out of dog fur can also be used to get tree sap off of dog paws. Slowly massage natural solvents like coconut, vegetable, or olive oil onto the tree sap to help it break down and soften.

Then, remove as much of it as you can manually or with a towel. Repeat the process as often as you need and then wash the afflicted paws with warm water and soap to finalize cleaning the area.

What Is Tree Sap?

The most optimum way to learn how to get sap out of dog fur is to first fully understand what tree sap is and why it is so sticky. Tree sap is a biological and botanical fluid in trees that contains photosynthesized sugars, water, tree hormones, minerals, and other nutrients.4

Sap can be considered as the blood of a tree in the same manner that blood is a vital life fluid in humans. Sap transports water and other vital nutrients throughout the body of a tree.

Close up image of a bark with tree sap on it.

(Image: Nik Demidko13)

Although most people are loathe to see them as such, trees are living things that eat, drink, breathe, and have interior physiology like human beings. Without getting too technical, some of the interior wood components or organs of a tree are called the cambium, sapwood, and heartwood.5

Sap is transported throughout the physiology of a tree via a vascular and vein-like system of plant cells called the xylem.6 Trees are living sentient creatures that do not always get recognition for being such.

Some scientists believe that trees recognize each other, live in the equivalent of neighborhoods, communicate with each other, work together cooperatively, and even pass down learned information from one generation to the next.7 Along with regulating local temperatures and adding shade, trees provide the world with natural oxygen.8

Trees breathe in and absorb carbon dioxide via their leaves, bark, roots, and local soil and exhale oxygen; one mature tree can absorb over 48 cubic pounds of carbon dioxide annually via the process of carbon sequestration.8 None of these feats would be possible if trees did not have sap flowing through their physiologies and providing energy for their activities.

The point is that tree sap flows throughout the physiology of a tree in the same way that blood flows throughout the human body. If you have ever gotten a paper cut or have been injured, then you know that blood is sticky and must be carefully and strategically washed away.

Tree sap is essentially the blood of a tree and is extremely sticky due to its photosynthesized and nutrient content. You should learn how to get sap out of dog fur in an efficient manner because once it gets into dog fur it can become dried, hardened, and hard to remove.

Why Do Trees Produce Sap?

As previously mentioned, the production of sap in a tree’s physiology is a vital process for its continued survival. To better understand how to get sap out of dog fur, and hopefully prevent the problem in the future, you need to better understand why trees produce sap in the first place.

Some tree species may ooze sap from their bark pores due to hot weather or a buildup of carbon dioxide pressure within their physiology. However, most trees produce sap internally as a biological defense strategy and healing mechanism.

Remember that a tree has a woody physiology similar to that of a human body, so whenever a tree is cut, injured, or infected with disease, it will start to exude sap.9 If you prune tree branches or limbs, then you should realize that it is the equivalent of removing a limb from a human being.

Tree pruning is a stressful and traumatic process for a tree to endure. The pruned area and the bark may ooze sap to protect the tree from insects and pests, bacteria, and fungal infiltration.

Trees that have been hit by cars or damaged by flying debris from a storm will produce sap as a healing response. Sometimes sap is produced as a wound protection process whenever a tree is damaged.

Sometimes a tree will aggressively ooze tree sap from its bark pores due to being infected by diseases like slime flux.9 As an additional defense mechanism, some species of tree sap have horrible pungent smells, are caustic to the touch, or are poisonous enough to cause death.

The point is that a tree can ooze sap for natural or several health-detrimental reasons, but all of them are capable of oozing sap. This is vital information you should know to learn how to get sap out of dog fur before you go on a walk.

Is Pine Sap Toxic to Dogs?

The sap from the pine tree is actually very useful to human beings because of its inherent antimicrobial properties.10 Pine tree sap can be topically applied to human skin like an organic bandage to treat open wounds, blisters, or burns.

However, if your dog licks or ingests pine sap it could cause internal irritation and inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and vomiting.10

How Many Types of Pine Trees Currently Exist?

It’s a good idea to learn how to get sap out of dog fur because there are so many different species and subspecies of pine trees in existence.11 Currently, there are over 187 different types of pine trees in existence.

Photo of pine trees early in the morning under the mountain dew.

(Image: MolnarSzabolcsErdely14)

Over 818 types of pine tree cultivars have been developed to ensure the continued existence of the species.11 You will find many different species and types of pine trees throughout North America.

Pine trees are valued for their lumber and their sap is used in the production of industrial and commercial cleaning products. The point is that if you have to learn how to get sap out of dog fur, it more than likely will be because your dog licked or rubbed its fur against a pine tree.

However, there are some species of tree sap that are very dangerous to humans and animals alike. The Manchineel tree is considered one of the most toxic and dangerous trees in the world.12

It is native to North America and can be found in the state of Florida. This tree produces a natural toxic sap within its wood, bark, leaves, and apple-like fruit and is sometimes known as the “tree of death” or the “little apple of death” tree.

The sap of the Manchineel tree causes severe and caustic blistering and burns on human skin on contact. Eating the apple-like fruit produced from the tree can cause severe sickness and potentially even death.

If you burned wood cut from the Manchineel tree and became enveloped in the smoke it could cause temporary or permanent blindness depending on the duration of smoke contact.12 The point is that the type of tree sap your dog encounters, barring the Mantineel tree sap species, is less important than learning how to get sap out of dog fur efficiently.

Unless the sap contains a toxin that causes caustic burning, it is generally just going to get stuck in your dog’s fur, harden, and become annoying to your pet.

What Are the Nonverbal Signs That a Dog Has Hardened Tree Sap Clumps Sticking to Its Fur?

Dogs don’t talk and don’t necessarily need to be washed daily, so it may take you several days before you realize that your pet has dried tree sap clings to its fur. Pay close attention if you notice any subtle changes in your dog’s mannerisms or behaviors.

Restlessness, aversion to your touches, and excessive scratching could be major signs that your pet has a patch of dried tree sap clinging to its skin.

What Is the Best Method For Removing Tree Sap From Car Paint?

If you want to know how to get tree sap off car paint, you can use some of the same methods you would for removing it from dog fur. Your best option is to just use warm water, microfiber towels, and soap to gently soften the tree sap.

If the tree sap has hardened considerably and stuck to the car paint, you can use microfiber towels dampened with isopropyl alcohol to slowly break down, soften, and remove the tree sap.

Can Liquid Dishwashing Soap Be Used as an Alternative to Dog-Friendly Soap Products?

You should strive to only use dog-friendly soap and shampoo products when learning how to get sap out of dog fur efficiently.

Shampoos and soaps made for human use are chemically harsh; how many times have your eyes ever become severely irritated when you have soap or shampoo in your eyes?

That effect will be severely magnified on your dog. You could use a mild, scentless liquid dishwashing soap to remove tree sap from dog fur if you are out of dog-friendly shampoo.

However, make sure that you rinse and wash away all traces of it afterward to prevent your dog from licking any residue and potentially developing digestion problems. Dogs can’t talk, so if they have exposed themselves to tree sap without you noticing they might spend days suffering from discomfort and irritation from unnoticed dried tree sap clumps clinging to their fur.

Pay attention to any nonverbal cues from your pet, especially after returning from walks or if your pet is used to playing outside on its own. Tree sap, especially the sap from pine trees can be potentially toxic or act as irritants if they are consumed by dogs.

If your dog is used to playing outside around trees then you should learn how to get sap out of dog fur efficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur

What Does Dried Tree Sap Clinging to Dog Fur Look Like?

Dried tree sap clumps might look like translucent, light brown, or dark amber-colored blob-like masses sticking to your dog’s fur. You might not see it if you haven’t washed your dog or if your dog isolates itself, but once you know what to look for, you won’t be able to miss it when you see it.

Do All Trees Have Sap?

As previously mentioned, every tree species on Earth produces tree sap within its physiology. You should learn how to get sap out of dog fur because while some species of tree sap are typically harmless, some can be toxic and dangerous if ingested by your pet.

Read More About How To Get Sap Out of Dog Fur


1University of Minnesota. (2023). Why do we get maple sap from maple trees? UMN. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://pressbooks.umn.edu/arboretummaple/chapter/chapter-2-why-do-we-get-sap-from-maple-trees/>

2United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, October 31). Using Trees and Vegetation to Reduce Heat Islands. EPA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://www.epa.gov/heatislands/using-trees-and-vegetation-reduce-heat-islands>

3Ingham, B. H. (2021, April 12). Unsafe to can tree sap at home. WISC. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/safefood/2021/04/12/unsafe-to-can-tree-sap-at-home/>

4Wikipedia. (2023, November 11). Sap. WIKIPEDIA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sap>

5U.S. Forest Service & U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2023). Anatomy of a tree. USDA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://www.fs.usda.gov/learn/trees/anatomy-of-tree>

6Wikipedia. (2023, November 11). Xylem. WIKIPEDIA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylem>

7Pappas, S. (2023, February 13). Do Trees Really Support Each Other through a Network of Fungi? SCIENTIFICAMERICAN. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-trees-support-each-other-through-a-network-of-fungi/>

8Stancil, J. M. (2015, March 17). The Power of One Tree – The Very Air We Breathe. USDA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/03/17/power-one-tree-very-air-we-breathe>

9Myers, V. R. (2021, June 03). What Does It Mean When a Tree Bleeds Sap? THESPRUCE. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://www.thespruce.com/when-a-tree-bleeds-sap-3269770>

10Labradoodle Home. (2023). Is Pine Sap Bad For Dogs? The Truth Revealed. LABRADOODLEHOME. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://labradoodlehome.com/is-pine-sap-bad-for-dogs/>

11Wikipedia. (2023, November 19). Pine. WIKIPEDIA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine>

12Wikipedia. (2023, November 03). Manchineel. WIKIPEDIA. Retrieved November 23, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchineel>

13What Is Tree Sap Photo by Nik Demidko. Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. Unsplash. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <https://unsplash.com/photos/a-close-up-of-a-tree-trunk-LKFSD3QmjzI>

14Pine Trees Photo by MolnarSzabolcsErdely. Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/pine-forest-pine-trees-forest-pine-5572944/>