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How To Remove Burrs and Stickers In Your Dog’s Fur

With your dog running around outside, enjoying the fresh air, it’s normal to get the occasional burr or stick stuck in their fur. These things are an annoyance to your dog, but the trouble is trying to remove them. That’s where the pet parent comes in.

Here are some tips on how to remove burrs:

  1. Part the fur, and work on one burr or sticker at a time - or one very small section of stickers at a time.
  2. After isolating the area, begin with the fur on the outer edges of the burr “knot.” Try to detangle and separate the fur on the outer edge of the burr knot gently with your fingers and pull the hairs away from the central matted burr a few hairs at a time.

This is a good point to assess if you need gloves to protect your skin and if you need tweezers to pick out the stickers or to help separate the hairs.

If this technique is working and the fur is moving pretty easily away from the central burr matt, you may use a pick-type grooming tool or even a fork will work well to gently pick out the loose pieces of hair and move them away from the burr or stickers.

However, if this technique is NOT working well and the burr is thoroughly entwined in there, you can try crushing the burr with a pair of pliers.

But be very careful not to catch your dog’s skin in the pliers! This often works because dry burrs will usually crush into many pieces, which will then release more easily.

How to remove stickers safely and effectively:

  1. Try putting a small amount of vegetable oil on the stickers to loosen their grip.
  2. Then, gently pull them down the fur one at a time. If they are moving freely, you can advance to gently using a comb.

If you use a comb, start at the end of the hair farthest away from your dog’s skin.  Then as the hair begins to comb freely, gently work your way up toward your dog’s body.

If you just can’t get the stickers or burrs out with the above techniques, don’t just hope they will disintegrate with time. They need to be removed, or they will continue to matt the hair more and may even work themselves into the skin. So, as a last resort, you can cut it out with scissors.

First, try cutting through the burr and working the pieces out. This will leave as much of their natural coat intact as possible. If the burr and matt is a solid mess, then cut through the knot and work the loose hairs from there. 

If burrs are in their coat, they may be in their paws too. Look between their paw pads carefully and remove burrs and foxtails or any foreign matter immediately. Pad injuries can be very serious as healing pads can re-split easily and so can take a very long time to heal.

As for foxtails, they can be very dangerous. They are barbs that are shaped in such a way that once they spear through the skin, they keep moving forward, migrating through your dog’s body, and can move into the internal organs. So, check your dog very carefully: in their paw pads, ears, nose, and belly creases.  And, if you find a foxtail, remove it immediately.

Dogs love to explore and roll in all those great outdoor smells, but if you find that he’s bringing home burrs, spurs, and foxtails, you may want to give him a different play area that will keep his fur cleaner and will give you and your dog more time to do the fun things in life.

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