At long last spring is upon us! It is finally warming up in much of the country and we are once again enjoying time in the great outdoors with our rabbit dogs in preparation for next hunting season. While out and about in wooded areas beginning this time of year and over the next few months, you might find yourself, or more likely your dog, in a sticky situation, that being covered in tree sap
We've all had it happen much to our chagrin. After a delightful romp in the field, one or more of your rabbit dogs returns to you happy as a clam but sticky as can be thanks to a run-in with tree sap. Whether it is on paw pads or the body of dogs themselves, one constant remains, that being the need to remove the sap as soon as possible.
Tree sap is a danger to dogs because it is toxic, causing illness and even death if consumed. This is a problem because dogs that get sap on their paws, for example, will lick at it and inadvertently consume it as they try to remove it from their bodies. Sap elsewhere on the hair coat is a trouble as well because it can cause skin irritation. Additionally, sap can contaminate drinking water sources and impact your dog should they drink from a puddle containing sap, so let that serve as another reason to always provide fresh water not only in the field but also in your kennel, especially if trees are nearby.
If your rabbit dogs do come into contact with tree sap as most inevitably do, it is necessary to remove it as quickly as possible. Start by loosening sap with a warm, gentle breeze from a hair dryer on a low heat setting kept far enough away (six inches or more) to prevent burns or discomfort to your dog. Once sap is loosened, try one of the options listed below for removal:
1. Rubbing alcohol can be applied to the sappy areas and gently wiped away with a rag. Use a fine toothed comb to remove it from fur.
2. Oily food items such as peanut butter and mayonnaise are safe for dogs and can be used to remove sap. Apply to affected area and work in, allowing to sit for 15 minutes, then comb out. Afterward, there may still be an oily residue that can be washed away with regular dog shampoo.
3. It is also possible to wash sap out depending on the severity. Dawn dishwashing soap is useful as it causes a breakdown in sap's ability to stick. Dawn is also safe on animals and is used on those affected by oil spills, so it is a good weapon in the war against tree sap.
4. De-Solv-It Citrus Solution is recommended by dog owners for use as a sap remover. It is a commercial cleaning product but is 100% organic and boasts being safe on skin and hair; just spray on and wipe or comb sap away. This product can be purchased at your local big box store.
5. In dire circumstances, you may have to resort to clipping. Just be certain to avoid injury to skin in doing so, especially if you attempt to remove sap with scissors as opposed to actual clippers as the coat of a beagle is not very long, leaving little margin of error between cutting hair and damaging skin.
In the event that you are unable to remove sap on your own, the services of a professional groomer can be enlisted, though that person will likely use on of the methods listed above. If your dog has been exposed to sap, keep a close eye on behavior. Should you notice signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, contact your vet for assistance.
Do you have any other methods of sap removal that you wish to share? Alternately, have you tried something that did not work? Let us know in the comments!