Spending time outside is one of the best perks of having a canine companion, especially if your dog is an active working breed with lots of energy. Hiking and long walks in the local park can be a great way to exercise and burn some energy, but there are caveats with adventures in the great outdoors.
From disease-carrying ticks to poisonous plants, there’s no shortage of problems with nature. Burrs are one of those minor yet annoying problems with hiking and being outside, getting stuck on both you and your dog. They’re Velcro-like in nature and are sometimes difficult to remove due to their pointed burrs from which they get their name.
While it may not be a big deal to get rid of yourself, it can be a real pain to remove from your dog. The problem intensifies with dogs that have long, shaggy coats or dark-colored coats that help blend with the burrs. If your dog has a bunch of burrs in its coat, follow our steps to get rid of them safely and gently:
The 7 Steps to Remove Burrs From Dog Fur
1. Search Your Dog’s Coat for Burrs
Before reaching for your dog’s brush or scissors, slowly and meticulously search your dog’s entire coat, ears, paw pads, tail, thighs, and any other places where burrs may be hiding. Brushing the coat can cause the burrs to sink deeper into the skin if they’re attached or buried deep in the coat. Look behind and inside the ears, in between the toes, toe pads, and toe webbing, around the tail base and thighs. Be careful not to mistake a nipple for a burr since they can look somewhat alike.
2. Remove the Loose Burrs by Hand
As you’re searching your dog’s coat, start removing the loose burrs that aren’t tangled or stuck to the skin. Begin by pinching it lightly between your forefinger and thumb, then gently pulling to see if the burr will come out without a problem. If a burr is stuck in long or thick fur, try detangling the fur around it just enough to remove it. Once you’re done getting rid of the “easy” burrs, you’ll need to tackle the ones stuck to the skin.
3. Use Tweezers for Burrs Close to Skin
Now that the loose burrs are out of the way get a pair of tweezers to move onto the burrs closest to the skin. Sometimes, the “teeth” of the burrs embed into the skin and can be painful to remove, which is why tweezers are always good to have on hand. If you can comfortably manage it, very gently pinch the skin around the burr and use tweezers to remove it. Pinching the skin will help make it easier to remove, but don’t pinch skin that tight or sensitive, and do NOT pinch too hard.
4. Carefully Brush Fur with a Metal Tooth Comb
This step may not be necessary if your dog has a shorthaired coat, but a good brushing may help find the less-obvious burrs you might have missed. Use a metal tooth comb to begin working out knots that have burrs stick inside of them while also coaxing out hidden burrs. We recommend a comb instead of a wire brush in case there are some burrs close to the skin to prevent them from digging in deeper. Be careful not to pull hard on your dog’s fur or hair when detangling any big knots.
5. Cut Matted or Knotted Fur to Remove Burrs
Like the step above, this applies mostly to dogs with long or thick coats. For knots and mats that are beyond saving, cutting them out might be necessary. Burrs tend to stick to knotted hair and fur, so it’s crucial to remove them with scissors if untangling doesn’t work. Some burrs might have fur wrapped around them after a long hike, so these may have to be cut as well if hand removing or comb detangling doesn’t work. After you’re done cutting, brush your dog’s coat one last time with the metal comb.
6. Bathe your Dog to Help Remove Any Other Stubborn Burrs
After doing a full search and removal of the burrs you found, wash your dog’s coat with dog shampoo to get rid of any that you’ve missed and debris from being outside. Massage the coat and thoroughly wash out the shampoo. Dry out the coat with a towel, using a hairdryer if necessary or for a finished look.
7. Check the Coat Again After Drying
While drying out the coat, check one last time to see if you missed burrs and other coat issues. Dry out the coat completely to prevent dry skin and brush out the coat. If you did miss any burrs, remove them with tweezers or by hand.
Going out for a hike with your dog is a rewarding experience, but checking yourself and your dog after a hike is not so much fun. Burrs, ticks, and other forest debris can get stuck to everything and anything, which can be a hassle if they’re also in your dog’s fur.
Whenever you’re removing anything from the coat, always do it gently and as precisely as possible. Your dog’s coat and hair follicles are sensitive, and removing things like burrs or thorns can be painful. Remember to stay calm and be gentle when removing anything stuck in the skin.
After a long hike or being outside for hours at a time, take the time to thoroughly check your clothes, body, and your dog’s coat for anything stuck or embedded. If there’s a burr stick in your dog’s coat, use the guide above to remove it as gently as possible.