Sticky Seeds on Dog: Simple Removal Tips for Pet Owners

Every dog owner knows that outdoor adventures can sometimes leave their furry friends with unwelcome hitchhikers like sticky seeds and burrs. These nuisances cling to a dog’s fur and can be a hassle to remove. Not only are they irritating for both the owner and the dog, but some seeds, like foxtails, pose a risk to the pet’s health if not removed promptly.

Sticky seeds and burrs are commonly encountered in fields, forests, and even in urban settings where they can attach themselves to a dog’s coat. In this article, we’ll discuss different techniques and tips on how to safely and effectively remove these pesky seeds from your dog’s fur. Regular grooming and maintenance of your pet’s coat can help keep them clean, comfortable, and seed-free.

What Are Sticky Seeds

Sticky seeds are seeds from various plants that cling to surfaces such as clothing, fur, and hair due to their shape, structure, or the presence of small hooks or barbs. These seeds can be an annoyance for both humans and animals, especially dogs who love to play and run in fields or wooded areas where these seeds are likely to be found.

Types of Sticky Seeds

Some common types of sticky seeds that may get caught in your dog’s fur include:

  • Burs: Seed pods from plants like burdock, which are covered in small hooks that latch onto fur easily.
  • Foxtails: Grass-like seeds with sharp, needle-like ends that can burrow into your dog’s skin or fur.
  • Beggar’s Lice: Flat, eye-shaped seeds from tick trefoil plants that have a sticky covering of fine hairs.
  • Cocklebur: Rounded seed pods from the Xanthium plant, which have small, curved hooks on their surface.

Why They Stick to Dogs

Sticky Seeds on Dog Removal

Sticky seeds cling to dogs primarily because of their structure and the properties of a dog’s fur. A dog’s fur is made up of multiple layers, and the outermost layer consists of long guard hairs that help provide insulation and repel dirt and debris. Unfortunately, this layer is also an ideal surface for sticky seeds to become attached to.

When dogs run through grassy or wooded areas where these types of plants are growing, the motion of their movement causes the seeds to become dislodged from the plants and attach to their fur. The seeds then become entangled in the dog’s coat, and it can be difficult for the dog (or its owner) to remove them.

Dogs with longer fur or those who have a dense, thick coat are more prone to having sticky seeds latch onto them. However, all dogs, regardless of breed or coat type, can still experience problems with sticky seeds if they spend time in areas where these plants are prevalent.

How to Get Sticky Seeds Off of Dog Fur

Removing sticky seeds from your dog’s fur can be a challenge, but with the right approach and tools, it can be done effectively and safely. In this section, we will cover the methods of brushing and combing, using oils and home remedies, and preventing seed attachment.

Brushing and Combing

  • Regularly brushing your dog’s fur is one of the most effective ways to remove sticky seeds.
  • Use a dog brush or fine-tooth comb for smaller seeds, and a wide-tooth comb for larger burrs.
  • Gently brush through your dog’s fur, working your way from the tips towards the roots.

Brushing and combing your dog’s fur helps to release any dirt or debris that may be attached to it. Make sure to be gentle when removing the seeds, as roughly pulling on them can hurt your dog and damage their fur.

Using Oils and Home Remedies

  • Rub olive oil or coconut oil around the burs to loosen them.
  • You only need a pea-sized amount for each bur-matted area.
  • Use your hand to massage the oil into the fur around the burs, running it up and down the fur.

For burrs that have become severely entangled in your dog’s coat, work slowly, gently pulling your dog’s matted fur away from the burr with your fingers or the end of your comb. Applying a little conditioner or some coconut or vegetable oil to the matted area and the burr can help loosen it.

Preventing Seed Attachment

Taking steps to prevent sticky seeds from attaching to your dog’s fur in the first place is a great way to keep your pet healthy and comfortable. Here are a few preventative measures to consider:

  • Regularly groom your dog to keep their fur clean and free of debris.
  • Keep your dog’s fur trimmed, especially in areas that are prone to seed attachment.
  • Avoid areas with tall grasses or plants that are known to have sticky seeds during walks or outdoor adventures.

By following these methods, you can effectively remove sticky seeds from your dog’s fur, ensuring a happy and healthy pet.

Potential Health Hazards for Dogs

Ingestion Concerns

While not all sticky seeds are toxic to dogs, some can be harmful if ingested. For example, apricot pits contain cyanide, a fatal toxin for dogs and cats. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:

  • Panting
  • Shock
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting

Additionally, ingestion of certain seeds, such as those from geraniums, can cause health issues like lethargy, low blood pressure, and skin rashes in dogs. If you suspect your dog has ingested a harmful seed or if they are displaying concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Seed Burrowing

Seed burrowing occurs when sticky seeds with spikes or barbs attach to a dog’s fur, skin, or in between their toes. Over time, these seeds can burrow further into the skin and cause pain, irritation, and even infections. Some common effects of seed burrowing include:

  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Pus or discharge from the affected area
  • Dog excessively licking or biting the area

It is crucial to regularly check your dog for any seeds or burrs that may have attached themselves and remove them promptly to prevent burrowing.


Persistent seeds and burrs in your dog’s fur can form mats, which can trap dirt, moisture, and bacteria. This creates the perfect environment for infections, leading to potential health hazards.

Signs of an infection associated with sticky seeds might include:

  • Foul smell from the affected area
  • Oozing or pus-like discharge
  • Crusted or discolored skin
  • Excessive grooming, licking, or chewing at the area

If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment. Regular grooming and routine removal of seeds and burrs can help prevent infections and overall discomfort for your dog.