When I am out with my dogs I often find burrs on their paws, ears or belly. The dogs may stop and attempt to pull the burrs out with their teeth if they are irritating, or they may not notice and the burrs become ground into the fur as they walk, play and roll. Removing burrs can be difficult, but over the years I have found a way to gently remove burrs from a dog’s fur.
I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
What Are Burrs?
Burrs are the flowering portion of a plant called Burdock. Every second year, after the plant flowers it creates burrs. They are small (approximately 1’’) brown balls. They have many prickly spines that have hook-shaped ends. These ends easily grasp onto many fabrics, hair, and fur.
Burdock can be found in countries all over the world. It is commonly found growing in fields, along the edge of paths or roads, or in any treed area. It is a weed that spreads rapidly and can withstand cold weather.
Other terms for Burrs: Stickers, Briers
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Are Burrs Harmful to My dog?
Often, after walking your dog, you will find burrs attached to his fur. While they are usually found around the paws, legs, and ears, they can attach to any part of the body. If your dog rolls in the grass, sniffs under a bush or walks through a field, he might find himself covered in burrs.
Generally, burrs are not cause for concern, but there are situations where burrs can cause harm to your dog.
What happens if my dog eats burrs?
While burrs are not poisonous to your dog, ingesting them can cause lesions in the dog’s mouth and throat. These can be irritated and become infected. Your dog may find it uncomfortable to eat or drink.
Should he continue to have difficulty eating or drinking, or is showing signs of pain or discomfort, take your dog to a vet immediately. If any burrs have been swallowed they can cause internal issues that may require antibiotics, pain medication, or, in severe cases, surgery to remove the burrs.
How burrs on the face can affect a dog’s vision?
If your dog has burrs on her face, it can be dangerous. If they are stuck close to her eyes, they can scratch the dog’s eyes and cause temporary or permanent damage.
What happens when a dog steps in burrs?
When burrs are stepped on, they can lodge themselves in the fur between the dog’s toes and pads. This can make walking very difficult as each step causes the burrs to scratch the skin. With each step the burrs are ground further into the fur and do more damage.
How can burrs in the fur harm your dog?
When a dog is covered with burrs, they can become ground into the lower layers of fur or undercoat. This can cause matting in the fur. When matting occurs, it is uncomfortable, even painful to move, sit in certain positions, or sleep.
If burrs get close to the skin in thinner fur, they can cause scratches when they scrape the skin’s surface. If this goes unnoticed, it can cause infection.
Once again, see a vet to determine the medical need to tend to or medicate the scratches.
If the burrs are left in the fur, it can cause further issues. They can begin on the surface, but with activity, they can be forced deeper into the fur. Sometimes, in an attempt to remove burrs from their body, your dog may move them from one place to another (ie. behind the ears to the eyes), causing more damage. This is why it is always best to inspect your dog for burrs after a walk. You will avoid any potential issues for your pup. A thorough scan for burrs can be done at the same time as you are checking for ticks.
How Do I Get Burrs out of My Dog’s Fur?
There are many ways to remove burrs from your dog’s fur. The best process to choose may be decided by the severity of the situation.
Can I Pick Burrs Out of My Dog’s Fur?
If the burrs are still on the surface of the dog’s fur, you may get away with just picking them off of the dog with your fingers. This is usually possible if you discover them immediately after they have latched on.
Should I Comb or Brush Burrs out of a dog’s fur?
If the burrs have settled down into the fur, it may be difficult to remove them. You can opt to use a brush or a comb, but be careful that you are not hurting your dog in the process.
Steps to remove burrs from your dog’s fur:
Tools you will need to remove burrs:
– Dual-ended comb – one side wide, one side fine.
Make sure you take your time. In this case, the “rip of the band aid” approach is not helpful.
- Apply coconut oil or olive oil or detangler to the fur and burr.
- Place your fingers between the bur and the dog’s skin. Hold the fur firmly to prevent pulling the skin.
- Use the wide-toothed end of the comb to gently remove the burr. Start with the part that is furthest from the dog and slowly work your way toward the skin. IF YOUR DOG SHOWS ANY SIGNS OF DISCOMFORT, TAKE A BREAK
- When the larger part of the burr has been removed, turn the comb over and use the fine-toothed end to remove the remaining smaller bits.
- Brush your dog.
- Give your doggo a treat!
While it is almost impossible to avoid burrs, steering clear of areas where you are aware that burrs are growing will reduce the possibility of exposure. Some parks or hiking trails may have fewer burdock plants. Choosing the best location for walking your dog could save him from discomfort.
If you have burrs on your property and would like to remove them to prevent your dog from frequent burr removal sessions, this article might help: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/how-to-kill-cockleburs-12567376.html
It is very common for dogs to come home with burrs stuck to their fur. While it is generally not a cause for concern, burrs can cause some medical issues if ingested or should they scratch the skin or become matted in your dog’s fur. Always check for burrs when doing your tick inspection when you return home from your walk. Remove any burrs immediately to avoid further discomfort for your dog.