How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws from Foxtails and Burrs
A pup’s paws are pretty impressive, with their ability to regulate body temperature and send important sensory info to the brain. And though they’re tough enough to navigate rocky roads and icy sidewalks, your dog’s paws aren’t immune to every outdoor danger. Namely, sticky burrs, sharp thorns and perilous foxtails pose a real risk to your four-legged friends’ feet. Keep reading to find out what these natural nuisances are, how to avoid them and how to treat your pup if they come across them outside.
What are Burrs?
Also known as stickers, burrs are prickly seed pods that a variety of plants produce when they’re drying out and shedding their seeds. They can be found anywhere from open fields to city parks, and as the name “sticker” would imply, they cling to any surface like velcro and are a real pain to remove. Not only do they get caught in fur and have the potential to cause matting in long-haired dogs, but they can also get lodged into paws, armpits, tails and ear flaps, and are sharp enough to pierce the skin. This can cause your pup pain and discomfort, and can also lead to infection if left untreated. In cases where burrs result in matted fur, moisture gets trapped under the coat and results in uncomfortable irritation.
What are Foxtails?
These tall grasses are common in the Western United States, and are a fast-growing weed that can extend up to four feet tall. They’re found everywhere from fields and forests to backyards and sidewalk cracks. Each willowy spike contains itty bitty barbs that sink themselves into any surface in sight (including your dog’s fur, sensitive skin and—in the worst case scenario—even their organs). Not only do they carry dangerous bacteria, but because they’re so small, they’re also hard to see and even more difficult to remove.
How to Avoid Burrs, Foxtails and Thorns
It may sound obvious (and easier said than done), but the best way to avoid the dangers of foxtails, burrs and thorns is to steer clear of them altogether. This means scouting out locations where you plan to walk your dog ahead of time, or if they’re in your backyard, removing them completely before you allow your dog to romp around outside.
If it’s not possible to bypass these naturally occurring nuisances, make sure your canine is wearing dog boots before heading outdoors. Walkee Paws Outdoor Dog Boot Leggings are made from durable rubber that protects paws from being pierced by burrs, foxtails and thorns. They also cover your dog’s entire legs, preventing stickers and foxtails from embedding themselves in their leg fur.
Once you return home from a walk, make sure you check your dog’s paws and fur (especially between their toes and inside their ears) for any lingering dangers, and brush out their fur, too. If you notice your dog obsessively licking their feet or legs, coughing, sneezing, gagging or showing any signs of pain, head to the vet to get an exam and make sure hidden burrs or foxtails aren’t the culprit.
How to Remove and Treat Them
If you notice a burr tangled up in your dog’s fur, try using a grooming comb to tease it out. If that doesn’t do the trick, grab a pair of pliers and crush the burr into smaller pieces, which makes it easier to extract. Be sure to wear a pair of gloves to protect your fingers from the sharp edges!
To remove stickers, thorns or foxtails from your dog’s skin or paws, use a sterilized pair of tweezers to slowly and gently pull them out at the same angle they went in (or else they can break off and leave a piece behind in the skin, or even cut your dog as they’re coming out). Once they’re removed, rinse the affected area with warm water, apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment and then cover it with a self-adhesive bandage. We also recommend putting on a pair of our Indoor Grippy Sock Leggings to keep your dog from licking the wound and causing an infection.
Sometimes we don’t notice a burr, thorn or foxtail until it’s already embedded itself into our dog’s paw, fur or skin. In this case, it’s best to visit your vet to have them removed (or consult a professional groomer to address matted hair).