Look it happens. You’re out for a walk or hike with your human. Next thing you know you’ve got something stuck on your paws. Tree sap, chewed gum or mysterious substances.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s upsetting. It can be serious if not taken care of.
And it recently happened to me. I was walking along and sniffing the ground. Completely unaware I had stepped on chewing gum and later some tree sap. My humans didn’t notice that sticky stuff was lodged in my pads when they cleaned my paws after we got home. It's a thing they do to keep my paws clean.
But then I started chewing at my pads. Because you can’t help it. Sticky paws are unpleasant. So, you start chewing your paw. Trying to get whatever is stuck on your paw off.
My humans noticed and leaped into action. Because if they don’t remove the sticky stuff and you keep chewing, things can get serious quickly. Next thing you know, your paw pad is irritated or worse has a tear and it’s off to the veterinarian’s office. But your humans can help minimize the chance of going to the veterinarian’s office and remove the sticky sap or gum.
What to do when your dog or puppy has something sticky on their paws
1. Identify & Assess. You need to know what sticky substance you are dealing with. Is it just sap or chewing gum, or is something more? Your human needs to know what it is so they can figure out what next steps they need to take.
There are some sticky substances dog owners can remove themselves. However, there are some sticky materials that should be treated by a veterinarian.
Something your humans can take care of:
Tree Sap (Olive Oil first, then wash)
Chewing Gum (Olive Oil first, then wash)
Melted candies (Olive Oil first, then wash)
Latex Paint & Water Soluble Paint (Wash with warm soapy water.)
Burrs (Olive Oil or Pet- Friendly Detangler for fur first, then wash)
Some things only a veterinarian should remove:
Road Tar Note: If your dog has road tar on their paws, you should take it to the veterinarian. Removing road tar yourself can damage your dog’s paws and lead to more veterinarian bills. Better to have the pros look at it.
Oil based paints & Toxic chemicals are best left to veterinarians or certified grooming professionals.
When it comes to tree sap, your humans should be aware that some plant and tree sap is toxic too. The ASPCA has a really good listing of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants for pet parents.
2. Prep Your Cleaning Area by Having Everything You Need on Hand.
Get the Treats or Lick Mat Ready. It’s stressful enough having something in your dog’s paws but you want to keep them calm while you remove the sticky stuff or burrs. Having treats on hand or a lick mat to distract can be helpful.
Get a Dish of Lukewarm to cool clean water & Pet Shampoo. You will want these on hand when you need them. You want to make sure that the dish you use is wide enough and deep enough to put your dog’s paw in to gently wash. The pet shampoo helps clean the pads without irritating them.
Get a Small Pair of Scissors & Wide toothed comb. You may need to trim the hair on your dog’s paws to remove the sticky stuff. Also, a wide tooth comb can help you remove things stuck to the sticky stuff.
Have Towels and Paper Towel on hand. You will need to wipe some of the sticky stuff away as you go. Paper towels are a good option for this. If you don’t have that on-hand, then a wash-cloth or small towel will work. Have at least 2 towels with you.
3. Go Slow and Be VERY Gentle. It may have taken seconds to get sticky paws, but it will take more than a few minutes to remove the sticky stuff. You will need to work slowly and gently to get everything out.
Gently and slowly trim any paw hairs with sticky stuff on them.
Loosen the sticky stuff like sap, chewing gum or melted candies or burrs with olive oil. My humans used olive oil to remove the sap and chewing gum combo on my paw.
Use a wide tooth comb if necessary to gently tease out or work out the sticky stuff from your pet fur. Human fingers also work. You don’t always need a comb.
As you work the olive oil into your pet’s fur, you will need to wipe away some of the oily sticky stuff. Use your paper towel or wash-cloth/small towel to clean wipe away the residue as you go.
If there is stubborn sticky stuff on the paw pads, you can use tiny scissors to carefully remove any residue. But be careful. Paw pads are very delicate. You want to avoid cutting the pads or skin around the pads.
Once you got everything, gently wash your dog’s paw in a dish of lukewarm water with pet-safe and pet-friendly shampoo. This will help get off any olive oil and any remaining residue.
Softly pat dry the paw or paws with a clean towel. Remember their paw may be irritated so be gentle. And give your pet lots of affection and treats.
If you are nervous or worried, you can always make an appointment with a professional and certified groomer to remove any excess sap or sticky stuff
Things to remember:
Never ever use chemicals or chemical solvents on your pet’s paws.
Some plant and tree saps can be toxic if your pet licks or chews at it. You need to remove sap as quickly as possible before it hardens.
Always be very careful trimming hair around your pet’s paw.
When in doubt, see your local licensed veterinarian.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general overview to the subject matter. Specialist advice from licensed veterinary specialists should be sought about you and your dog’s specific circumstances.