Man holding dogs paws

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk on a warm summer day, only to come home and find tar stuck on his paws? It’s a sticky situation, quite literally!

In this article, we’ll look at some simple steps you can take to remove tar from your dog’s paws.

Four Easy Steps to Remove Tar From Dog Paws

Tar, a thick, sticky substance typically found on roads or in construction areas, can be a real pain if it finds its way onto your dog’s fur and paws.

You’ll usually notice a dark, almost black clump stuck to the paw pad or between the toes.

It can feel like a hardened or dried blob, yet flexible and sticky to the touch. If your dog’s been walking funny, licking their paws more than usual, or showing signs of discomfort, tar might be the culprit.

Keep Your Dog Calm and Comfortable

First things first, ensure that your dog is relaxed. This process may take a few times to get all the tar out, and you don’t want them squirming or getting stressed.

Try talking to them in a soothing voice or keeping a few of their favorite treats handy.

Apply a Generous Amount of Dog-safe Oil

One of the simplest and most effective ways to get tar off your dog’s paws is by using a safe oil that helps to break down the tar, making it easier to remove.

An excellent example is coconut oil, which is natural, gentle, and great for dogs with sensitive skin. It also helps to prevent infection in case your dog has any cuts on his paws. Olive oil or vegetable oil also works for softening dried tar.

Stay away from tea tree oil, as well as mineral oil, citrus oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil. These can be toxic if ingested or irritating to your dog’s skin. 

I also don’t recommend using baby oil, Vaseline, or Goo Gone on your dog’s paws. These are petroleum-based products that you don’t want your dog ingesting.

Apply a generous amount of your oil of choice directly onto the tar and gently massage it in. Remember to proceed with caution, and avoid getting any oil in your dog’s eyes or mouth.

Comb Out the Tar

After allowing the oil to soak in for a few minutes, use a dog comb to slowly and carefully remove the tar. Ensure the comb’s teeth are not too sharp or abrasive, to avoid causing skin irritation.

You could also try using a soft brush or damp cloth instead if you’re worried about your dog’s sensitive skin.

Wash with Soap and Water

Once you successfully remove all of the tar clumps, wash your dog’s paw with a mild dog shampoo and warm water.

Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a towel. This step is crucial to remove all remaining traces of tar and oil.

The Stubborn Cases: When Tar Won’t Budge

In some instances, the tar gets embedded deeply into the fur, making it more difficult to remove. In these cases, you may need to repeat the process several times to remove the remaining tar.

If your dog has a lot of fur around their paws, you might need to snip away some fur to get the tar out. But remember, always snip away from the skin and be extra cautious.

When to Take Your Dog to the Vet

If you notice your dog licking his paws excessively, he may have ingested some tar. Ingested tar can cause gastrointestinal issues and needs to be addressed by a vet immediately. So, when in doubt, take your dog to the veterinarian.

Additional Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Tar-Free

It’s always easier to prevent the problem than to fix it.

To protect your dog’s paws from tar, consider investing in some dog booties, especially if you live near asphalt roads or construction sites. They not only keep your dog’s paws clean but also protect them from other potential irritants.

If booties are a no-go for your furry friend, avoid walking them in areas known for tar presence. And always check their paws after walks to catch any tar before it dries and hardens.

The Final Rinse: Wrap Up

Whew, we made it through the sticky, tarry mess! Remember, although it may seem daunting at first, tar is not impossible to remove.

And I’m pretty sure your furry buddy appreciates all your hard work in keeping them clean and comfortable!

Do you have any additional tips or tar-removing tales of your own? I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share this guide with other pet parents in need, and don’t hesitate to drop your comments below.

Because, when it comes to our pets, every little bit of shared knowledge truly makes a world of difference.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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How to Remove Tar From Dog Paws

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