Myself and my dog went for a walk yesterday evening to the Minawn in County Waterford which is a beautiful spot with fabulous views of the three sisters meeting point (which are the three Rivers the Barrow the Suir and the Nore), and while we played fetch the ball accidentally ended up in the brush and out came my dog… except she didn't look like my dog anymore. She looked like she was wearing a beautiful brown fur coat from her paws up to her tummy. It turns out she had been attacked by a whole lot of burrs.
What are burrs? They are these seedpods I suppose, that are circular, super hairy, and very very sticky. They are about the size of a €2 coin or even slightly bigger. They are stronger than Velcro when they get stuck in a dogs fur, and are quite a challenge to take out (actually, apparently the burr was the original inspiration for Velcro!). And, as I also found out, they can be quite prickly and if you do you have allergies to things like dust mites or pollen they might give you a slight rash (I got one!).
So as I spent my evening yesterday taking probably hundreds of burrs out of my dogs fur, I thought I would share what I have learnt with you in case you end up in a similar predicament.
The first thing I did when we got home, was make sure that my dog had her dinner and plenty of water, and was ready to settle for the evening. I had plenty of treats on hand, and luckily I had a big jar of coconut oil on the boat. If you have a long tooth comb do take it out but I only had my dogs grooming brush so that's what I used.
Begin this approach one burr at a time. For the ones that were stuck at the end of long hairs I just took the scissors out and cut them off. So this would've included a few that were on her tail and some on the back of her paws and underbelly. Any burr that is close to the skin cannot be cut off in case you injure your dog. This is where the coconut oil comes in. Take a large piece of the coconut oil (mine wasn’t liquid, it was slightly solid like a cream), and gently rub it in and around where the burr has taken hold. In some cases this will make it incredibly easy to gently pull the burr out of the dogs fur. However in other cases they still won't budge the sticky plant from its new home.
In this case I suggest to gently pull apart the burr and slide each separate clump of seeds off one by one. When you have detached most of the burr from the dogs fur, comb through the fur with their dog brush, and a little coconut oil will help any last bits of seed to come off easily.
If you own a large tooth comb by all means use this along with the coconut oil to try and separate and comb out the burrs from your dogs fur. What is important is while you are grooming your dog make sure to reward them with treats and with lots of positive “good dog”s as this is quite an uncomfortable ordeal for them to sit through, even though at the end it is well worth it. And I use coconut oil because it is moisturising, it is good for the skin, it can help reduce inflammation and support healing, which are all good things in this case. It was also really handy for me, as when we were done, I washed my hands toughly, and then applied coconut oil to my hands and arms - it soothed the prickles, and the rash was gone within a couple of hours. And, the dog can lick it off their fur without you worrying as it is non-toxic.
And that's it. Please learn from my experience and avoid burrs on your dog at all costs! However if you do end up in this predicament, don't worry: You'll get through it and the coconut oil really helps!