Kathryn said, “How can I clean tar off of my dogs paws? He stepped in some tar that washed up on the beach and it really stinks.”
Dogs are just as likely as humans to step in tar, possibly even moreso because they don’t know to avoid it. What’s worse is that it gets into the fur and between their paw pads, making it more difficult to remove. Thankfully, a few household items are all you need to quickly remove the tar.
Removing the Tar
You Will Need:
- A trash bag
- A plastic scraper
- Cooking oil
- A sandwich bag
- A cloth
- Baking soda
- Dawn dish liquid
- A towel
Steps to Remove the Tar:
- Either go outside or lay a plastic trash bag on the floor indoors and have your dog lay on the trash bag while you work on removing the tar to avoid spreading it anywhere else. If needed, cut the trash bag open to create more surface area.
- Scrape the tar off gently by using a plastic scraper or something that can either be easily cleaned or thrown away afterward. Remove the tar from the surface of the paw first, then remove it from between the paw pads to prevent pushing the surface tar further into the paw pads, making it more difficult to remove.¹
- Once you have scraped off all you can, rub cooking oil into the remaining tar. Put the paw in a sandwich bag to prevent your dog from licking it. Allow the oil to sit on the paw for several hours or overnight.² If you do not have any cooking oil, margarine³ or mayonnaise can be used instead. However, as these items are more enticing for your dog to eat, do not leave your dog unattended while the paw soaks.⁴
- Wipe the oil and tar out of your dog’s paw with a dry cloth.³
- Wash the paw with your dog’s usual shampoo or Dawn dish liquid to remove any remaining oil.²
- Rinse the paw thoroughly, rubbing your fingers between the paw pads to remove any soap residue.
- Pat the paw dry with a towel.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Do not start by trying to use water to remove the tar. Water will usually help the tar to set, making it more difficult to remove. Only use water after removing as much of the tar as possible.⁵
- Strong chemicals should never be used on your dog to remove the tar as they could poison your dog or burn their skin.²
- It is important to remove all of the tar immediately as dogs will try to clean it off themselves if given the chance and likely will end up ingesting it.
- If you are not able to clean off the tar immediately, tie a plastic bag onto the paw to prevent your dog from licking the tar. However, do not use a rubber band to hold the bag in place as this can cut off your dog’s circulation.
- The Complete Household Handbook by Good Housekeeping
- Pet Clean-Up Made Easy by Don Aslett
- Joey Green’s Cleaning Magic by Joey Green
- Extraordinary Uses For Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest
- Don Aslett’s Stainbuster’s Bible by Don Aslett
Tar is really thick on my dogs paws and sticking his nails together and in his pads; can’t get it off. How can I get it off? Thanks.
Use the oil as described in step 3 – it will dissolve the tar and make it easisr to remove. Because the tar is thick, you may need to repeat steps 2 and 3 several times to get it all out before moving on. Good luck!
I just used coconut oil in a baggie and massaged it into my guy’s worst foot. Wiped it off with a throw-away towel. And did it one more time – pretty good for now!!! I used peanut butter to put on all the places he managed to get this on his body/fur and used another cloth to “scrub” these spots. That worked pretty well too!! Both worked quickly and were all natural. So if I can just ‘tune out’ the licking sounds as we all try to go to sleep, we are golden!! Will probably do these things one more time tomorrow or just bathe him completely with Dawn (always has been a stellar solution for most things)! Including an INSTANT flea killer, by the way…
My dog decided to lay in tar that was not yet cured,
Put him in the bath and used canola oil, it melted the tar right away! Used the canola oil and Dawn soap alternatively about 4 times and now he is tar-free and it saved me a $100 PetSmart bath bill; didn’t even have to cut any fur off and he’s a boarder collie with a very fluffy tail. It was time consuming, but it was a cheap and effective solution.