Removing an unwanted element that is hitching a ride on your dog's coat can be stressful, annoying and uncomfortable - for both you and your dog. The severity of the situation will also depend on your dog's coat type. The quickest or easiest solution is usually to hack off large chunks of fur and hope against hope that it grows back promptly and properly. But before you go at your dog with scissors, try the following suggestions. Not only will you save yourself some aggravation, but you'll also save your dog some embarrassment and further discomfort.
If gum is stuck on the outside hairs or topcoat, apply ice cubes to the area in order to freeze it. Once frozen, you can break the gum into pieces and pull it out gently.
However, if the gum has been pressed in further, it is a little more complicated. Creamy peanut butter works well on deep-seated gum; the oil in the peanut butter will stiffen the base of the gum and make it less sticky. Wait a few minutes, then remove the gum. Vegetable oil or olive oil is another option. A solvent will remove it very well, but make sure that it does not contain any chemicals that may be harmful, and be sure to wash the area after the gum has been removed.
For gum stuck between your dog's toes, it is best to just cut it out carefully, and keep the hairs trimmed to avoid potential problems.
If candy canes, lozenges or suckers are entangled in your dog's coat, the vegetable oil method will help break down the sugars stuck to the fur.
A lot of times burrs sit along the outside of the coat, holding on loosely; these can be easily brushed out. It is when the culprits work their way deeper that they become a problem. You can use a seam ripper from a standard sewing kit to pick the hairs around the burr until it can be pulled out. As a preventative measure to keep burrs from being a future problem, lightly spray the coat with dog mink oil; this will keep the coat slick and slippery, and allow burrs to be easily brushed out.
Another common hazard of the outdoors, sap starts out sticky, and can adhere to your dog's skin when it hardens. First, aim a hair dryer on its lowest setting at the sap for a few seconds to keep it soft. Then, apply peanut butter or mayonnaise to the sap, and let the oils break down the stickiness. Use a rigid-toothed comb at the tip of the hair, then work your way deeper to pull the peanut butter (or mayo) and sap away from the skin. Don't comb deeply too soon, as that will only make the sap stick again. Finally, a warm bath will remove the peanut butter. (Sap stuck to your dog's paws can be gently massaged out with peanut butter or mayo as well.)
Water-soluble paints, such as latex, should be washed out immediately using warm, soapy water. Never use chemicals, such as turpentine or other paint thinners; also, do not let your dog attempt to chew it out. Oil-based paints can be removed by using vegetable or mineral oil; this will take a considerable amount of time, but is safe and effective. Once the paint has been removed, apply flour to the area, allowing it to clump up, and then use a wide-toothed comb to remove the accumulated oil/powder mixture. Wash the coat when finished. (The same technique also works on removing motor oil from fur.)
Tomato juice is a home remedy favorite and the most common defense for a skunked dog. Another easy-to-make concoction that will work is a combination of one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of liquid dish soap or laundry detergent. (Note: These ingredients have acidic properties and may cause eye irritation, so work carefully around the face.) Let the neutralizing solution soak into the coat, then bathe normally.
In the end
None of these methods are absolutely guaranteed, so you might have to use the scissors after all. Never use WD-40, fabric softeners, paint thinner or other detergents, as these toxic products are extremely harmful if ingested. Overall, patience and gentle application will work best, and be sure to give your dog a thorough bath after the foreign objects have been removed.