A Facebook follower asked me about this particularly sticky pet problem. Here’s my advice!
Q: Help! My border collie got pine tree sap in her fur. How do I get it out?
A: When it comes to sticky things in fur, there are a lot of different recommended remedies for removal. For instance, creamy peanut butter helps to soften chewing gum. It seems counterintuitive to use sticky stuff to remove sticky stuff, but it’s the oil in the peanut butter that does the trick. Olive oil, butter and mayonnaise can work, too. Whichever you choose, rub it into the area with the sticky substance, let it sit for a few minutes, and then carefully comb it out or work it out with your fingers.
Tree sap can be a stickier wicket, though. The peanut butter or oil trick may work, but sometimes tree sap is a job for alcohol — the drinking kind. Vodka, to be exact. The alcohol dissolves the tree sap. While you shouldn’t allow your dog to lick the treated area, the vodka is less risky for him to ingest than isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. If you don’t have vodka on hand, I’ve heard anecdotally that bourbon works equally well.
The sap may have hardened by the time you discover it. If that’s the case, use a blow-dryer on a low setting to soften it before you begin removal. Make sure you don’t hold it too close to the skin or you could burn your dog.
Once all the sap is out, give your dog a bath to remove any traces of peanut butter, vodka or anything else you used. Depending on how much tree sap is in your dog’s coat, the quickest and easiest solution, if the most expensive, may be to take him to a groomer for a bath with a degreasing shampoo.
Read more, including about cats who love to go adventuring, in this week’s Pet Connection!