If you found this article you know what a burdock is, and you suspect your dog could be at risk.
Burdocks are one of the reasons an innocent walk can end up being a serious challenge.
What is a burdock, how can you treat it and protect your dog from future encounters?
What Is A Burdock?
Burdock is a plant (in some places called a weed) that grows to about 4 feet tall with a prickly ball of seed that sticks to anything.
It is popular knowledge that it was the inspiration for Velcro fasteners.
It has medicinal uses for cold, gout, stomach ailments, and cancer.
How Does It Affect Dogs?
The plant itself is not toxic but the prickly ball head is the main thing that affects dogs; it attaches to them once dogs interact with them outdoors.
The most common way dogs get to eat it is by licking it off their body when it is attached to them.
It causes a lot of discomforts as it can get attached to their mouths, tongue, throat, and stomach with the tendency to cause abscesses.
It is barely visible when attached, but dogs can feel them and it drives them crazy; they try to eat anything at all, even grass, to try and dislodge the burr.
Symptoms To Look Out For
Drooling and Gagging
Drooling and gagging are some of the first signs to come from this.
The gagging is a reflex action and the mouth wants to flush out the burrs stuck in there.
For the throat, swallowing may be very painful so saliva pools in the mouth making them drool.
After some time, pain comes along and it is hard to spot this because your dog can manifest it in different ways:
- Becoming aggressive
- Becoming lethargic
- Being whiny
The tells are less visible which is why it pays to understand your dog’s behavioral changes.
Burr Tongue or Burdock Tongue
Also called granular stomatitis or granulomatous glossitis, it is one of the most common effects of ingesting a burr.
Small red bumps appear on the tongue, lips, and gums and can form larger lesions or ulcers.
If left untreated, they can bleed and your dog could end up drooling, vomiting, having difficulty eating and drinking, and in general pain.
Vomiting happens in more severe cases.
One common trait is dogs eating their own hair and they are barely able to keep their food down while being restless.
For some, it is almost impossible to get them still enough to be able to access their mouth to check for visible symptoms.
Some cases have reported prolonged vomiting and an inability to keep food down.
This symptom can be coupled with a distended belly which indicates inflammation.
This is a dangerous position and a veterinarian needs to be called before this point.
What To Do About It?
1. On your own you could feed your dog dry bread or any other bland food that can dislodge and hopefully push the burrs out of your dog’s mouth while not upsetting their stomachs.
This is to be done with an antacid to settle their stomachs and stop the vomiting episodes.
2. But this can be temporary relief and you would need to watch your pet closely to see if he gets better or goes back to his unsettled state.
This is very telling, and prolonged agitation warrants a call to the veterinarian because they are not getting their nutrition and could be in pain.
As explained above untreated severe cases can cause lesions and ulcers.
3. A veterinarian would perform an examination to see if there are still burrs attached in the mouth area and remove them, surgically if need be.
And this is if your dog is brought in early enough.
The veterinarian can also prescribe aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the pain.
It is important to let the doctor know what other medication you have given the dog prior to the visit so there is no counterreaction or over-dosing.
Antibiotics may be prescribed as needed especially if ulcers are found.
How To Prevent Encounters With A Burdock
1. Burdock tongue or Burr tongue seems to be more prevalent due to the number of reports online.
But some veterinarians have never encountered cases before and do not know it is a problem even though their approach seems to be consistent.
In this case, it is up to you to know and understand what to do, when, or if this happens to your dog.
Research and identify burdock plants so you can steer clear of them during walks and teach your dog to stay away.
2. Even if your dog has an encounter without you knowing, you can inspect your dog after walks and make sure their fur has no burdocks stuck to him.
Ensure you get all of them as just one ball can cause a lot of damage.
And you must get to them before your dog grooms himself.
3. If your dog has long hair it would help to brush his fur, to make your job easier and burdocks would have less opportunity to stick to your dog.
If your dog is naturally long-haired then it is even more important to be vigilant.
Where they play and inspect their fur thoroughly, grooming them with a comb or brush after walks.
Going through this can be harrowing for your dog and you, so precautions are important.
But if your dog ingests a burdock, try the first remedies of dry bread.
And at the slightest change or manifestation of symptoms, call a veterinarian before it is too late.