How to Get Tar Off Dog Paws and Coat

If your dog has tar on its coat or paws, you’re probably struggling to remove it through simple combing or wiping. However, following the special steps mentioned in this article can remove it completely, leaving you with a happy dog and feeling better!

How To Remove Tar from Dog Paws

Here are the steps to follow if you want to know how to get tar off dog paws:

Gather Your Supplies

Here’s what you’ll need if you’re wondering how to get road tar off dog paws:

  • Pet-safe mineral oil or vegetable oil (coconut oil is a fantastic choice)
  • Cotton balls or soft cloth
  • Dog shampoo and warm water
  • Clean towel 
  • Gloves (optional)

Apply Oil To Soften The Tar

Apply a generous layer of pet-safe mineral or vegetable oil directly onto the paws with cotton balls or a soft cloth, and give it a few minutes to soak into the tar and paw pads. 

Then, gently massage the oil into the tar until it softens and breaks down.

Remove The Loosened Tar

Use another clean cotton ball or cloth soaked in more oil to gently wipe away the loosened tar from your dog's paw. Be gentle, as forcefully pulling on the tar can tear the paw pad and cause pain.

Wash The Paw With Dog Shampoo And Warm Water

Now you must thoroughly clean your dog's paw using a mild dog shampoo and warm water. This will help remove any remaining tar or oil by breaking it down further. 

After washing the paw, rinse off all the residue with clean, warm water.

Dry Your Dog's Paws

Gently pat your dog's paws dry with a clean and absorbent towel. However, don’t rub too hard, as this could irritate the skin.

If you're unsure how to get road tar off your dog’s paws or if the affected area seems sensitive, consult your vet for advice.

Apply Paw Balm (Optional)

Consider applying a dog-safe paw balm if your dog’s paws seem irritated after cleaning. This can help soothe, hydrate, and protect sensitive skin while promoting healing.

Monitor your pet closely in the following days for signs of infection, skin dehydration, or irritation. If anything seems out of the ordinary - like redness, swelling, or discomfort, contact your vet immediately.

Related: Hyperkeratosis in Dogs: Causes and Treatments

How To Clean Tar-Stained Fur

If your dog has tar in its coat, here’s what you need to do: 

Apply Vegetable or Mineral Oil

Using vegetable or mineral oil is an effective way to get road tar off your dog’s fur. 

Apply a generous amount onto the affected area and gently massage it into the fur for several minutes. Allow it to soak in and work its magic for about five minutes. 

Then, massage it further to help break it down and dissolve any remaining tar to make it easier to remove.

Comb Through the Affected Areas

Comb through the affected areas with a fine-toothed brush or comb. This helps separate any remaining tar clumps while minimizing damage to the hair follicles. 

Wash Your Dog Thoroughly

To remove any remaining tar and oil from your pet's fur, give them a thorough bath using warm water and mild soap. Focus on cleaning areas that were directly exposed but also pay attention to other parts where residue may have spread.

Dry Your Dog Properly

After washing your dog, gently towel dry their fur and use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting to help speed up the drying process. Hold the dryer at least 12 inches away from your dog's skin to avoid discomfort or burns.

Monitor Your Dog for Skin Irritation

Monitor your dog for signs of skin irritation after removing the tar, as some dogs can have sensitive skin that reacts negatively to oil or soap. 

After removing the tar, you may also consider using an Omega-3 supplement to improve your dog’s skin condition.

If you notice redness, swelling, or excessive itching, consult your vet immediately.

Keep Your Dog Groomed Regularly

Maintaining a regular grooming routine can help prevent future tar buildup on your dog's coat. Brush them regularly (the AKC recommends brushing most breeds at least once per week), trim long hair around their feet if necessary, and schedule professional grooming appointments as needed.

Related: Dog Blister on Paw? How To Prevent & Treat It

How To Prevent Future Tar Buildup

Here’s how to prevent future tar buildup: 

  1. Avoid walking in areas with fresh tar or construction sites: Be mindful of where you take your dog for a walk. Avoid freshly paved roads, construction zones, or any area with wet tar.
  2. Inspect your dog's paws after walks: Check them for signs of debris or tar buildup after every walk to help you catch any issues early before they become more challenging to remove.
  3. Clean their paws regularly: Keep some pet-safe wipes handy to quickly clean off dirt and grime after walks. A damp cloth also works. Regular cleaning helps reduce the risk of accumulated dirt turning into stubborn stains like dried tar. 
  4. Paw protection products: Consider using protective gear like booties or paw wax when walking in areas with road tar or during warmer months when the asphalt is softer and stickier due to heat exposure. Some popular options include:
    • Dog boots: These provide full coverage for your pup's feet while allowing them freedom of movement.
    • Paw wax: A natural barrier that helps protect your dog's paws from rough surfaces and harsh chemicals.
  5. Stay informed about local roadworks: Keep an eye on local news or community updates for information about any upcoming road construction projects. This way, you can plan alternative walking routes to avoid potential tar exposure.


Removing tar from your pup's paws and fur can be tricky, but with the correct tools and methods, it’s achievable. 

Soaking your pup's paws in warm water and applying a lubricant such as veggie oil or petroleum jelly are good starting points for getting rid of tar. For cleaning tar-stained fur, use a degreasing shampoo that is safe for dogs and avoid using harsh chemicals.

To prevent future tar buildup on your dog's paws and coat, try to keep them away from areas where there is likely to be tar or other sticky substances.

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