After a hike or a day spent running in the fields, many dogs often find themselves sticky flower seeds clinging to their fur. Regardless of the type of flower heads, it is difficult to remove the sticky seeds and it can be painful for the dog. You should therefore take the time to learn how to get sticky seeds off a dog’s fur before taking the risk of hurting it.
Know how to recognize those sticky seeds and heads
It is a seed with hooks or small teeth. These hooks are easily sticking to the fur of passing animals. It is a means of dispersing seeds. Flower heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they always have seeds that get stuck onto furry animals.
The ridges (or barbs) of some grasses act in a similar fashion, but the seeds instead form hook-like hairs. These two types of seeds are quite difficult to get rid of. However, in the case of ridges, be aware that the seeds can insert themselves into the skin of dogs, causing pain and infection, and in some cases quite severe.
Look for the flower heads and seeds on its body
Both the flower heads and the ridges can hang anywhere on the dog’s body. If your dog has run in a grassy field or in a forest, then carefully check the following areas on his body:
- under the tail
- between the toes and the pads
The presence of seeds can also be observed by the way your dog is behaving. Your beloved dog sneezing a lot could indicate the presence of seeds in his nose.
Beware of the end of the growing season
This is the most dangerous time, as the plants are drying up and are ready to release their seeds. During that time of the year, brush your dog regularly to remove flower heads.
How to get sticky seeds off a dog’s fur
Use your fingers to remove loose flower heads or ridges. Be very gentle, as your dog may not like having his fur pulled. Try to untie the knot formed by the fur around the flower head with your fingers. You may need to wear gloves to avoid stinging yourself, especially if they are flower heads, as these are harder and more pointed than barbs on grasses.
Brush the dog’s fur
Use a wide-toothed metal or wooden comb. Pass the comb where the flower heads are visible to gently loosen them. It works best when flower heads and ridges are not too firmly attached to the fur. If the flower head or the ridge is firmly stuck in the fur, you can start at the end and gradually work your way up the strand.
Break the flower heads into pieces
You can use pliers to crush the flower head into smaller pieces. This should facilitate the extraction. Be careful not to pinch your fingers and your dog’s skin.
Cut out any stuck flower heads
Sometimes (and this is especially the case with long-haired dogs) strands containing flower heads will need to be shaved or trimmed. Be very careful during this step. Do not burn it with a hot clipper head and do not cut it with your scissors!
A good technique is to run a comb under the knot formed around the flower head and cut just above the comb. It can help protect your dog’s skin. If you are unsure, bring your dog to a professional groomer who is more skilled than you and won’t risk cutting your dog’s skin.
How to get sticky seeds off a dog’s fur? Prevention is key!
Keep your dog away from grassy areas, especially tall grass. Put a leash on your dog when you take it for a walk, so it won’t run around in flowering or bearded plants. This is especially important at the end of the growing season when the seeds are ready to drop from the plants.
Be very vigilant
Do not let your dog inhale flower heads or ridges and they can get in a dog’s nose or mouth which can be quite dangerous. Your dog even swallow them. The ridges will cling to respiratory or gastrointestinal tissue and cause serious injury. You can buy mesh hoods to hang on the collar to protect the entire dog’s head.
If you suspect contact with internal organs, get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible. You will need to have it examined by a professional. Heads, ridges, seeds or barbs are almost impossible to see with conventional equipment (like ultrasound or x-rays), which is why it is difficult to diagnose and treat. The only symptoms are overall poor health and scum on the lips.
Protect your dog at all times
If you bring your dog in the forest on a regular basis you should consider protective jackets that are available in pet shops or in hunting stores. These will protect your dog’s fur from flower heads, seeds and ridges. If you cannot keep your dog away from risk areas (if you have a hunting dog, for example), you should invest in this type of protection. You can buy him boots as well, but many dogs can’t stand them, especially when they are running.