Burrs are the rough, prickly seedcases of certain plants, and they seem especially fond of hitching a ride on your pet’s coat. When they lodge in their coat they can cause matting, skin irritation or infection. Burrs can be terribly hard to remove. Here are some tips from various vets writing in the book The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats by the Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books:
Look for hideaways – Burrs can stick anywhere so you want to examine your pet closely for these hidden prickly intruders. Check between each of their toes, on top of the feet, around the testicles and in the armpits. Check all little crevices.
Make sure your pet doesn’t get wet – The tangled hair around the burr shrinks when your pet’s hair gets wet and makes it more difficult to remove the burr.
Use your fingers – If the burr has only just lodged, you may be able to get it out with just your fingers or a pair of tweezers. If it has been in there awhile, it may be tangled inside a hair mat. To undo the mat you must pull it apart with your fingers bit by bit, working from the end of the hairs down toward the roots. After you get the burr out, use a comb or brush through the hair to really smooth things out.
Use vegetable oil – When a burr is really tangled, using a little vegetable oil will help loosen it. You can also you pet detangling spray which you can find at pet stores. If you are working on a cat, make sure you check to see the spray is safe for cats.
Cut it out with scissors - If you can’t get it out any other way, use a pair of blunt tip scissors and cut perpendicular to the mat, not parallel. Make sure you are cutting fur and not skin.
Be patient - Removing burrs can take a long time. Take frequent breaks if your pet has a bunch of burrs so neither of you gets frustrated. Work for no more than ten minutes at a time. Praise your pet and reward them with a toy or treat.
Keep your pet’s coat short – Keeping your pet’s coat short will help make it easier to remove burrs and they won’t stick so badly (not so much hair to tangle in).
Avoid the prickly – If you have had a lot of burrs after walking in a particular place try to avoid that area next time.
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