This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
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After a hike or a day running around in a field, many dogs manage to get burrs embedded in their fur. These burrs can range from numerous pinpoint-sized burrs to singular large burrs. Regardless of size, they can be difficult to remove and painful for the dog. Thus, you should take the time to learn how to remove these burrs without hurting your dog.
To get burrs out of dog hair, use your fingers to gently loosen any burrs that are on the surface. You may need to wear gloves while you’re doing this. If a burr is tangled into the dog’s fur, try using a wide-toothed comb to loosen it, starting at the edge of the tangle and working your way in. For really stubborn burrs, crush them into pieces with a pair of pliers, but be careful not to pinch the dog. If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to carefully cut out the burr with clippers or scissors. Keep reading for tips from our Veterinary co-author on how to prevent your dog from getting into burrs!
Beggar’s lice and dog fur removed with hair brush.
And finally, from a 1983 article for Mother Earth News, a tip for an easy way to remove beggar’s lice from clothing: A corn cob can serve as a clothes brush, too. For example, if you’ve ever traipsed through the woods, you’re probably familiar with those dry little burrs called beggar’s-lice that have a habit of clinging to your clothing. Well, whenever I come home covered with the stickers, I don’t waste my time picking the pesky seeds off one by one. I simply grab a corn cob and scrub them off with a few quick swipes.
Way More Than You Need to Know, But It’s Kind of Interesting
Not long after moving to Idaho’s mountains in 2005, I became acquainted with an odd burr that kept attaching to my shoes and socks and to the coats of my two Malamutes when we explored the forest. Local friends told me they were called beggar’s lice.
Prepare to follow me down a naturalist’s rabbit hole.
A distasteful name perfectly suited to the annoying plant seed.
Taking your pet for a romp at the park or in the forest is always good fun and great exercise. But lying in the great outdoors is a pet and pet owner’s nemesis. No, not parasites and critters this time….. We’re talking about a plant invasion in their fur, namely, burs/stickers, fox tails and weeds. Read below to learn more about these irritants.
Since these symptoms can also be caused by other unforeseen problems, a visit to your vet is advised.
How to Remove Burrs/Stickers, Foxtails and Weeds from Your Pet’s Hair
Some plants have leaves and stems that will have prickles, little spiny fur, or thorns. These leaves will stick to a long-haired dog and wrap itself into the fur and create a matted mess. If the leaf hasn’t created a huge matt yet, there’s hope before cutting it out! Here’s what you can do.
Burs are seeds or dried fruit that have hooks or teeth. Burs catch on the fur of passing animals or the clothing of people. The hooks or teeth generally cause irritation, and can cause injury to animals, clothing and can even damage vehicle tires or clog equipment. Since burs have hooks/teeth, they can easily attach themselves to the hair of a passing pet. The hair will wrap around the bur causing the fur to matt. Burs can imbed themselves into the skin creating irritation and possible infection.
*Tip: Use gloves when removing burrs. Remove as soon as possible.