Dogs and cactus do not mix. Small animals like to hide in dense clumps of cactus. Sadly, your unknowing best friend likes to investigate small animals. The next thing you know, you have a very unhappy and probably whining comrade at your feet staring at you with soulful eyes. Your first reaction is probably to remind your friend that you tried to tell him. Now, you get the luxury of getting those cactus thorns from his coat.
First, you need to calm Fido. He will be agitated and probably in pain if the needles have broken into his skin. Do not let him bite or scratch at the afflicted areas or he could transfer the needles to his mouth, paws, or force them farther into the skin.
The next thing you need to do is gather the needed supplies. Hopefully you already have them, but if not, then a quick trip to the store can solve that problem. Just be sure to leave Fido with a trusted friend who knows to try and keep him calm. You need a stiff-toothed or coarse comb and a pair of tweezers, needle-nose pliers, or something else that can afford a grip on the needle.
When you have your supplies ready, find someone to assist you. A friend, spouse, or family member is handy for this. They need to keep the dog calm and help prevent him from snapping at you or biting the inflicted area while you work.
Once you are ready, run the comb through Fido's fur. This action will dislodge most of the needles, but it is advised that you do this as gently as possible. Most cactus needles will come out relatively easy while brushing your dog's fur, but sometimes the finer needles will escape the teeth of your comb.
That is where the tweezers, pliers, or other graspable tools come in. This part will take patience from you, your dog, and your assistant. You will need to get into a position that will allow you to work comfortably while you pull the needles out one at a time. Your assistant may need to better restrain Fido since this can become painful if the needle is embedded in the skin. It will also prevent him from snapping at you or jerking. A badly timed jerk can cause the needle in question to change from its current host to you.
Gently grip the cactus needle and pull with the grain of Fido's fur. Pulling against the fur can cause agitation, especially if you accidentally grab some of his hairs along with the needle. If the needles are in the pads of the dog's feet, be careful not to grab the pads in the process of getting the needles out. Also make sure that the legs are pinned down so the dog doesn't accidentally fling needles everywhere if he decides to kick.
If you are uncomfortable with removing the cactus needle from your dog, don't worry. Veterinarians in desert locations are equipped to easily deal with this kind of situation. If the needles are around the face, 'armpits,' or groin area of your dog, then it is recommended to take the dog to the vet instead of removing the needles yourself.