How To Remove Tar From Dog Fur

Have you ever wondered how to remove tar from dog fur?  Not long ago while at the dog beach my Aussie mix, Linus stepped in tar and immediately the black sludge clung to his paw pad and fur seemingly impossible to remove.

I love taking Linus to the dog beach. He gets to interact with some of the other dogs, sprint along the sand, and play in the water. Unfortunately, Stetson my guide dog in training is not allowed to visit dog beach (guide dogs rules — he’s not allowed to visit any dog parks). If you’ve never been the Huntington Dog Beach is located between 21st Street and Seapoint Street in beautiful Huntington Beach, CA. They also have a dedicated website at http://www.dogbeach.org. I usually go to the dog beach after work around 6 o’clock and find that it’s usually not too crowded at that time.

Dog Beach

Pups Playing at a Dog Beach

Photo By Mike Baird

How To Remove Tar From Dog Fur

I grew up in nearby Fountain Valley and often went to the Huntington City and State Beach. During my youth I remember stepping on tar in the sand and having a heck of a time removing it from the bottom of my foot. I tried water, soap, rubbing alcohol, and none successfully removed the tar from my foot in a quick or easy manner. So, imagine my dismay when a few days ago after returning from dog beach I found a big chunk of tar stuck right in the middle of Linus’s paw and clumped together all over his fur on the bottom of his foot. Well, I grabbed rubbing alcohol and tried furiously to remove the tar from his fur and pad. I’m pretty sure I got more tar stuck to my hand then I did on the towel I was using (the tar I moved from Linus’s paw to my hand was also a pain to get off). I figured there has got to be a better way of removing tar from dog fur, hand, and paw pad. I did a little online research and found two possible solutions.

Goo Gone To Remove Tar From Dog Fur

[UPDATE - some of our readers have noticed skin irritation from Goo Gone even after thoroughly washing their dog.  Please proceed with caution when handling any chemicals including Goo Gone around your dog or pet.]

First, people said to try using vegetable oil…hmmm…I’ll try anything once. The second solution was a product called Goo Gone. I made a run to the local grocery store and found the vegetable oil and the Goo Gone. I decided to just purchase the Goo Gone and if that didn’t work head back over to the store for the vegetable oil. I put some of the Goo Gone on Linus’s paw and magically the tar began to melt away. It was amazing! The clumped up tar basically began to liquify with the Goo Gone. After adding a little Goo Gone I’d wipe Linus’s paw with an old rag then repeat the process. After about 5 minutes I had all the tar out of Linus’s fur and pad. My only concern was that the Goo Gone was irritating or hurting Linus’s skin. He did not complain, but I still immediately rinsed his paw with soap and water several times to make sure the Goo Gone was completely off his skin.

I never tried the vegetable oil and I’m not sure if it works better or worse then the Goo Gone, but I highly recommend Goo Gone if you ever have a tar situation with your dog or even if you get some tar stuck on yourself.

I’m sure we are all prepared to wash our dogs after a fun day at dog beach.  However, have you run into any special situations where something gross like tar gets stuck in your dogs fur coat?  What have you done to remove tar or any other nasty substance from your dogs fur?  I hate to use chemicals like Goo Gone so I’d love to know how you remove tar from dog fur.  Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Comments

    • Elizabeth knights says

      thank u so much the oil work well some pour tar on my puddle it make me cry to see him like that helpless all his eyes i did not think he would make it but he is ok now thank u for the oil

  1. says

    Thanks Rob. I still have the Goo Gone, but will try the Olive Oil next time to see if it’s a better solution then the Goo gone.

  2. says

    I just found this site because we are having our driveway re-paved today and my dog got out of the house and ran through it!! When I saw that the recommendations for removing tar were toxic chemicals, which we do not use in our house, and especially do not use on ourselves or our little girl (female miniature dachshund) I decided to use the first thing that came to my mind…Thieves household cleaner. Olive oil sound like a good idea too, definitely a safer alternative. However, olive oil is a bit sticky and messy!!

    This is a 100% pure natural and safe cleaner that uses therapeutic grade essential oils. I purchase it from Young Living and I have been a distributor with them for several years because I purchase such a large quantity of their products that I decided to save myself money by acquiring their wholesale membership. I sprayed this diluted cleaner on her feet and the tar just starting running off!! I rubbed her feet and sprayed the cleaner a few more times and it completely came off…no petroleum products or toxic chemicals needed!! I am so relieved!!

    If anyone is interested in this product you can purchase it at the Young Living website. My distributor number is 510736. You can order it there and choose to get your own wholesale membership also if you want to save money on these products.

    I am so happy about this that I just had to share it with everyone!! I am studying to be a holistic doctor so I am a bit on the cautious side when it comes to products that can harm you. These products definitely are safe.

  3. says

    @Lori, thanks for letting us know about Thieves household cleaner. We’ll definitely try that or olive oil next time. Hopefully my dogs don’t walk through tar again, but just in case it’s good to know our options when cleaning out tar.

    At the time I thought I’d never get the tar out of Linus’s fur and thought anything I could use to remove the tar would be great. It’s nice to have a 100% natural and safe cleaner as an option.

    By the way when I used the Goo Gone I made sure to thoroughly wash Linus’s paw after the tar was all gone.

  4. Mari Casanova says

    Thank you so much! My husband took our 2 labs up the coast and came back with one sad dog. She had tar stuck on her pad and acted like she was sick. I tried Goo Gone, because that’s what I had and use it for everything else, and it immediately took the tar off. She perked up right away. I was home with our puppy-in-training for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and will pass this tip on to others. Thank you again, Mari

    • says

      @Mari, I was having a fit when Linus got tar on his pad in the fur on his foot. I tried washing with soap…I tried rubbing alcohol…nothing worked, but the Goo Gone was like magic. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get the tar out with the Goo Gone.

      I’m glad you found the information helpful and happy to hear that your lab is doing well.

  5. Andrea says

    I didn’t want to use Goo Gone because of the warnings on the label (“If ingested, call the poison center immediately”). So, I cut out as much tar as I could from my dog’s paw and then used vegetable oil on a dish rag and gently rubbed it out. Then, a little shampoo and water to get the oil out, and he was as good as new.

  6. says

    Just back from a trip to Jaluma Beach with a yellow lab with tar on her paws. Olive oil did not work at all. It didn’t even phase tar that was on her nails. Goo Gone would work if you had all the time in the world – but our dog had already spent some time trying to get the tar off herself and her paws were sensitive. She just about bit my hand off trying to use Goo Gone but even beyond that I would say it isn’t the practical solution. Maybe just shaving the hair best you can would be better?

    • says

      @Barry sorry to hear about the tar on your yellow lab. It’s been several years, but as I recall the tar came out fairly easily when I used the goo gone. Perhaps they changed their formula. Unfortunately, I’m not too sure what else you can try besides as you mentioned shaving it out of her fur.

  7. Sue says

    well, Tar was on my Black labs front paws, we live infront of a small private paving company , for the past seven years she has not gone into the tar spots that are around, the company… but today she did, and I found this website, after she covered my car seats with the nasty spots of tar! ugh i used a rag with gas to get that off followed by a good scrubbing with a soapy rag! who knows if i will ever get the gas smell out, however i did use GOO GONE with her paws after i found this site! WOW she didnt mind it, squirted it right on inbetween her webs, of front feet, it softned the tar and i was able to pick off the balls and wipe the tar away, i then went outside with a bucket of warm water and dog shampoo and had her put her foot in one at a time to remove the goo-gone, she didnt like the bucket idea but put up with me until i was done. GREAT Idea! thanks !! Sue & Olive

    • says

      @Sue, I’m glad the goo gone worked for you. Thanks for leaving us a comment and telling us about your experience. Hopefully the gas smell doesn’t linger too long in your car.

  8. Naomi says

    I thought I would let everyone know that I used Goo Gone on a little stray kitty’s paws after she got into roofing tar. She had it on the sides of her tummy too and her chest so I had to use a little there as well because I didn’t want her ingesting the tar. She had come to me weighing less than 3.5 pounds, completely dehydrated, with ear mites and an ear infection… and yes, tar caked in her paws and fur, so I didn’t want to risk her eating more tar than she already likely had. Anyway, while it did work wonderfully, she hated the Goo Gone, and judging by her reaction it seemed to burn her paws and stomach. I worked as quickly as possible and washed her with shampoo 3 times. I realized later that the fur on her stomach smelled like Goo Gone stronger than her back and such, so I gave her stomach a somewhat dry sponge bath with baby shampoo and water. I didn’t want to give her another bath after already spending 30+ minutes in there the first time. She was put through enough torture! AAAAND she wasn’t licking her fur (likely because for awhile there it was making her SICK to do so because of the tar) so she had to air dry after the bath! No bueno for a cat with and already compromised immune system.

    Later that night she was so uncomfortable, she couldn’t lay down without being in obvious pain of some sort. I had no idea what could be the cause as I also hadn’t seen her defecate nor urinate since I had taken her in (even though she ate a TON of food). I thought perhaps she was constipate or her bladder/urethral opening was irritated. By the following morning, she seemed better, and by the evening, she was fine. HOWEVER, today I was trying to check her stomach for a spaying scar and discovered that her skin on her stomach and chest was flaking off, and taking ALL of her fur with it. It wasn’t red underneath and there were no scabs. There arent any circular patterns and it’s nowhere else but on her stomach. She hasn’t been itching or anything either, which leads me to believe (after hours upon hours of research online) that it must be from the Goo Gone.

    She’s acting fine, she’ll just have a bald belly until (hopefully) her fur grows back, but still, I wanted to mention this as a warning to others. Some cats/dogs have more sensitive skin. If your cat/dog has sensitive skin, I suggest you either find another route, or if you must, be DAMN sure you have someone to help you so that you can be sure the cat/dog is washed THOROUGHLY at least 3 times with shampoo afterwards. A normal shampoo, once or twice wont cut it. You need to get in there good at least three times, and be sure they are rinsed completely all three times.

    PLUS, you want to spend the least amount of time with the chemical on the animal. The bath took a LOT longer than it should have because I was alone, trying to hold the cat still, keep her as calm as possible, keep her from scratching/biting me, and keep her from getting away, while squirting Goo Gone and using a rag and my fingernails to remove tar from her paws and fur, as she shook off the chemical-tar mixture ALL over me multiple times.

    It’s hard. You need 4 hands to do the job quickly.

    Hope this helps!

    • says

      @Naomi, thanks for letting us know about your experience with Goo Gone. If we get tar in fur again we will try and alternate solution. I’ve also heard that Vegetable Oil works.

    • Elaine says

      Hi there,

      First, thanks Colby for posting this article. I came here out of concern for my little doberman pup, who is now three months old and has his ears taped. No matter what kind of tape we used, it was always extremely sticky and pulled some fur.

      We used Goo Gone with a paint brush on one ear, trying not to let the chemical solution make it to his skin (we just wanted a little on the tape to make it unstick). Well, it worked like a charm, the tape came off with no complaints, but we made the mistake of only washing the area with only a towel dipped in warm water. The side of his ear now smells sort of fishy, and it’s constantly wet-looking (even after a thorough bath the next day)… I fear it might be the body trying to expel the chemical. Hopefully all ends well… I’ll likely use Dawn dish soap next time (we use it at the local wildlife centre). Thanks to all for posting.

      • says

        Hi Elaine,

        Thanks for letting us know about your experience with Goo Gone. I think I’m going to try Olive Oil next time. By the way, your dog may have any ear infection and if so you might want to take him to the vet. When Stetson gets an ear infection it sometimes smells kind of fisshy.

        Take care,
        Colby

  9. Greg says

    Summertime weather here in the Northern Catskills – temps in the mid-70’s – unreal – and winter still has 2 days left. Just last week the road crews were using cold patch on pot holes. Well, Miel, our 4 YO Sheltie went for his usual free walk around the neighborhood – unleashed, he has free rein of the area. He came back just covered in tar, blacktop, dirt, whatever. He must have gotten into one of the now ‘hot’ cold patches on the road. His gorgeous white chest and shoulders just covered in it.
    Thanks to the ‘net we decided to use olive oil to try to remove it. Seems to have worked – the chunks and bits of tar and blacktop loosened and fell off. It took a bit more effort to try to clean his long fur. Can’t tell if worked yet – his fur is a bit oily despite a good washing. At least it’s not ‘tacky’. 2 side effects tho – his once blazing white fur now has an yellow-olive tint; and his fur is curling, sort of like Kenny G. What better way to spend a couple of hours with the dog.

    • says

      @Greg thanks for telling us about your experience and I’m glad the olive oil worked. If I any of my dogs end up with tar in their fur I think I’ll try the olive oil before using the Goo Gone as many people have said that the Goo Gone irritated their dogs skin. Interesting that your dogs coat is now has a yellow-olive tint and his fur is curling. I’m sure it will fade over time.

      • says

        Colby, thanks for the post. I stepped on a tar patch this morning which was absolutely discusting feeling (between the toes and everything), couldn’t get it off…I first soaked in microbes which is all natural and it what they use to clean birds, and it did a good job. Then used cooking spray (after reading your article) and it all came off…thanks for the post, my foot is much happier :)

        • says

          @Francie, I stepped in tar many years ago (before the internet) and had a heck of a time getting it out. I was using rubbing alcohol at the time and it did not work very well at all. I was miserable when I saw Linus had stepped in tar and feel lucky that I found a solution for removing it from his fur. I’m glad our article helped you out.

  10. Marjorie Ray says

    Simple Green works. I have used it for years on any petroleum based mess and it is non toxic. It is what they used on the animals in Alaska after the oil spill.

    • says

      Thanks for letting me know about simple green. I never thought about it, but I’ll give it a try next time (hopefully there isn’t a next time) one of my dogs ends up with tar stuck to his dog fur.

  11. Misty Coates says

    Well four of our boxer pups that we had left from our dog Georgia’ s litter, well we are keeping two but still have two more. So today is one of the first beautiful days and the pups were outside. They all had gotten into a BUCKET OF TAR that someone left for some unknown reason…Well the pups have tar all over them like someone had just taken a paint brush and asking it all over though them. I think I’ll try the go gone cause years ago it kids got it on thought-provoking their feet and tracked it all all over our new burber carpet I used the goo gone and it really just disappeared like magic it just vanished as I used the goo gone. Well that was the first thing thought of when I saw Savannah and the other pups but was unsure if I could use it on them without hurting them. So thanks for posting this cause I have a huge mess to take care of…wish me luck..lol
    Thanks Again,
    Misty

    • says

      Be careful with the Goo Gone. If you read through the comments some of our readers have used the goo gone and it irritated their pup’s skin. If you do use it make sure you wash it out thoroughly. Good luck!

  12. Misty Coates says

    Lol..I just reread my post and the auto correct put words in there for me..so I hope u can make sense of what I was trying to say..
    Thanks,
    Misty

  13. Away says

    Soak the paw in a cup of vegetable oil for a few minutes. The tar starts melting right off. My dog had a large piece of tar-covered gravel stuck between his foot pads and we did this and were able to just gently pick it out. Non-toxic too. We used rice bran oil – cheaper than olive oil! Follow the oil with dog shampoo or other gentle shampoo dissolved in water to clean away the residue.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your experience! Hopefully Linus will never get tar in his fur again, but if he does we may try using vegetable oil which sounds like a good alternative to other products.

  14. Christine Brand says

    My Puggle stepped in tar on our local beach and I used Dawn dishwasher soap and warm water and it came right off. Hope this helps.

  15. Lindsay says

    I took my yorkie to Huntington dog beach today and when I got him home I noticed that one of his paws was covered in tar. I couldn’t believe he stepped in tar at the beach. To put it mildly I freaked out. I feared he would get sick from it because he licks his paws often. Anyhow, I google searched everything under the sun. I bathe him with dawn dish soap at first and the really cut through the grease, but it didn’t get all of the crud off. So as some of the comments on this blog suggested I used olive oil. I noticed when I rubbed it vigorously on his paw the oil was turning brown because it was working. It really broke down the tar. I alternated between dawn soap and olive oil and the tar was completely removed in 30-45 minutes. Believe me, it takes a lot of patients but it works.

    Thanks for all the help! I hope this also helps anyone who comes across the same unfortunate problem.

    • says

      Yep! Huntington Dog Beach is the same place Linus stepped in tar. I remember doing the same when I was a kid. I’m glad the dawn soap/olive oil combo worked for your dog. I’ll have to keep that in mind if we ever get tar stuck in any of our dog’s fur again.

  16. Do Ja says

    coconut oil worked like a charm… my girl had a huuuuuuge tar pattie stuck right in between her paws… i thought nothing would get it out it was SO embedded! put some coconut oil one there and got EVERYTHING off… I just kept massaging it into her paw and just kept wiping it off and repeating… took all of 10 minutes and that’s just because i was being super anal about it LOL

    • katielove says

      I agree I use coconut oil on my long haired chi. our property is surrounded by pine trees she is always covered in pine needles & tar i rub a small amount into hair with fingers then bathe works like a charm safe, cheap & easy it also works on knots.

      • says

        I didn’t think about pine needles and tar, but I could see how that would be an issue too. I’m glad the coconut oil works for these sticky items as well. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing! We hope to never encounter tar again, but coconut oil is something I will probably try if we have tar issues with our dogs.

  17. Stephanie says

    I live in Huntington and hit the dog beach several times a week. Both my dog and I have been victim to the tar! I’ve found baby oil also works really well at removing it. I think olive oil and other oils would work as well, but I always have baby oil in the bathroom so it’s convenient…

    For my own feet, I also have a dedicated scrubber just for helping remove the tar. :)

    • says

      Wow! A dedicated scrubber! We grew up in Fountain Valley and went to Huntington Beach all summer long. I only remember getting tar stuck on my foot once. I wish I knew then (or had the internet) what I know now. I just remember scrubbing me feet pretty hard for several days to get that stuff out. I guess that’s why HB high school are the Oilers :)

  18. kk says

    DEFINITELY coconut oil! We just got back from Dog Beach at Huntington. Big glob of tar in my terrier’s foot. Tried acetone, worked a little. Coconut oil DID THE TRICK! Just have a big towel, it’s messy. Then use liquid hand soap or dish soap to clean his paw so he won’t ruin the carpet.

    • says

      Thanks for the advice! I’m glad people have responded to this post as this gives me a lot more options next time I find tar in my dogs fur.

  19. Rosco says

    Hi my name is Rosco im a 3 yr old pitbull. Just today my boyfriend took my baby for a walk and somehow he got tar all over him.. I didnt know what to do untill I read the story about linus and what his owner used… Thank u for putting up ur story… Goo Gone worked immediatly.. I just wanted to say thank u from the bottom of our hearts…

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