How to Treat and Prevent Clipper Burn in Dogs

Why Did My Dog Get Clipper Burn or Razor Rash?

A Common Complaint

Clipper burn or razor rash is not uncommon. It usually manifests itself with red, raw skin, with or without bumps. It may cause the dog to lick or scratch the area.

This ailment is caused by clipping the dog very closely. As a result, the skin is irritated. It's possible that the dog is just not used to such a close shave or that it has very sensitive skin and needs a more gentle approach. It does not necessarily mean it's the groomer's fault (or yours if you groomed the dog).

Getting Clipper Burn From the Vet

When a vet needs to work on a dog, she often must shave it. It is important for sanitary and other health and safety-related reasons to do this.

Depending on the dog's sensitivity and where the shaving was done on him, there could be some clipper rash. This might be unavoidable because of the need for a close shave for the procedure being done.

Getting Clipper Burn From the Groomer

What about when the dog comes home from the groomer's and has clipper burn? Some signs of irritation would be excessive scratching or licking of a particular area, including rubbing his face on the carpet.

This is probably also caused by using a clipper blade that shaves too closely. The grooming industry does have certain "rules" as to which blade length is used on different parts of the body.

Communicate With Your Groomer If You Notice a Rash

Please keep in mind that there is nothing in place that requires groomers to adhere to or even know these common practices, so good communication with your groomer is very important.

If you take your dog home and find clipper burn—it doesn't always show right away so the groomer may not even know about it—call your groomer immediately.

I say this because if you wait until the next time you go in, your groomer may not know what blade she used on your dog in that particular spot and you want her memory to be fresh so that she can make a note in your chart to avoid this in the future.

Even though she may be used to using the same blade in that body part for each dog, it may be that your dog is more sensitive, though there are sometimes, though rare, reasons for a temporary change in blades in use that day, but that's shop stuff I won't bore you with here.

Rest assured that if you call immediately upon finding the problem and reminding her when you go in next time to check the notes, she will be happy to make the adjustment for your dog. If she doesn't, it's definitely time to look for another groomer.

Dealing With Watery Eyes and Face Irritation

If your dog has watery eyes and the hair on the face is constantly wet, the redness you see after a grooming was probably already there. It could be redness caused by the constant irritation of it always being wet near the eyes.

Take a small towel and lay it over the top of the eyes and muzzle, using your thumb and forefinger to gently dry that area. Keeping that area dry will be a big help against the irritation.

Constant Licking and Color Change

If your dog has already been licking an area, the skin is irritated and it may also be red as well. Sometimes, but not always, when a dog has licked an area constantly, the hair may have even changed color, usually adding a reddish tint.

Clipping the hair there will only allow the dog to continue irritating the area. Be sure to take care of that cause and kindly let your groomer know. Since some skin problems are contagious, you may have to take the dog to the vet first, to avoid infecting other animals at the shop.

Conversely, it may just be a foxtail or other debris that has worked its way under the skin. It may be easy to remove if it hasn't burrowed too far in. That's another good reason to visit your groomer. They often find these sorts of things, and worse, that owners miss.

Helpful Tip: Use the Same Groomer or Grooming Shop Each Time

For the above reasons and others, it is good to use the same groomer if possible. This is easier for your dog, as he won't be with a total stranger each time and will therefore have less stress during his experience.

Every groomer is an individual and so is every dog. Therefore, the body language and handling from each groomer is just a little different to the dog. Also, it gives the chance for the groomer to get to know your pet and his likes and dislikes. Familiarity goes a long way in making a grooming experience the best it can be for your beloved pet.

If you take your dog to a grooming shop with multiple groomers, ask for the same groomer each time you go. If that person quits, ask for the name of someone else, but by all means, remember that even the familiar surroundings of the same grooming shop is soothing for your dog.

Special Note on Poodles

Poodle cheeks are a common place for clipper rash. If you want the hair nice and short around the muzzle, but your poodle can't take it so close on the cheeks, again, talk to your groomer. They can easily switch from a longer blade on the cheeks to a shorter one for the muzzle without it looking silly (within reason, of course).


Call the Vet

When you discover clipper burn after bringing your dog home from the vet, you need to call them to find out what, if anything, you can do about it. The vet will know what the best thing to put on it is. You don't want to put something on it that might react with a medication or infect a surgical area.

Call the Groomer

If you just brought the dog home from the groomer when you notice the "rash," it is a good idea to call them before applying anything. This is just in case the groomer noticed the rash on the dog beforehand but forgot to tell you about it.

In that case, you need to take the dog to the vet to ascertain the cause of the rash. If it is clipper burn, and you told your groomer so they can make a note of it in the chart, you can simply treat it as you would any simple rash.

Soothe the Rash

The main thing is to soothe it and prevent the dog from further irritating the skin by rubbing, scratching, or licking. This is important because further irritation from your dog can cause it to bleed and scab, a cycle that might end in infection.

Some people use petroleum jelly (Vasoline), Bag Balm, or a three-in-one antibiotic ointment (Neosporin). I cannot prescribe any of these for your particular dog, but I personally like the last two. Make sure that your dog has no allergies to any of the products that you use first. Your vet may also have some recommendations as well.

Buy or Make an Elizabethan Collar

If your dog is particularly interested in agitating his rash, you can also use an Elizabethan Collar. These are those plastic cone-shaped things that vets put on dogs to keep them from ripping out stitches after a surgery or suturing a wound. They can be a bit pricey though.

You can easily make one with a bit of imagination.

  • Cutting an empty, plastic milk jug or a 2-liter soda bottle can be just the answer for a smaller dog.
  • Make sure to tape over the edge that goes next to the neck with duct tape or something similar.
  • Also, you'll want to have something to use to attach the E. Collar to the dog's regular collar to keep it on. The "professional" ones just have plastic tab type extensions that loop around the dog's collar and back into the E. Collar. A piece of twine or cord should also work.
  • Avoid attaching to any of the choke collar types for safety reasons.
  • Do not forget that the E. Collar needs to extend past the dog's nose to be effective!
  • Keep the cone's flare wide so the dog doesn't end up with tunnel vision and whatever length you use, be sure that the dog can easily get his mouth into his dishes to eat and drink!!!

With a little care and good communication, rashes can be avoided or minimized.

Comments 11 comments

karen 5 years ago

what if the dog was matted and u had no option to shave close, why is the groomer liable for vet costs and groom refund is the dog was matted,

Sindee Palomino profile image

Sindee Palomino 5 years ago Author

If the dog was severely matted, yes, it likely required a close shave. Thank you for making that point. It is good for owners to realize that they should be properly brushing their dog IN BETWEEN visits to the groomer, as well as regular visits with the groomer. If owners do not like doing this then a "brush and bath" visit, between their normal clippering appointments should be made. Would any person even think of not brushing their own hair in between visits to their hairdresser? Owners should remember too that dogs lay on their hair, so think of how much dirtier their hair must be than yours, yet you wash yours every day or so, right?

As for your comment about a refund or vet costs, no where in my article did I say, or mean to imply that a groomer would be liable for either of those. I simply said that IF a skin condition, now detected because of the grooming process, but before was undetected, was not just simple clipper burn, a visit to the vet might be necessary to address this pre-existing condition. In all cases, I tried to stress that a simple call to a vet, at least first would be the avenue to use if a skin condition is found. If it is clipper burn, ESPECIALLY if it is due to matting, which is owner neglect, not groomer error, any bills would and should be the responsibility of the owner, not the groomer or its establishment. ONLY if the groomer knew what blade would be too close ON THAT PARTICULAR DOG, and knew AHEAD OF TIME OF THIS, would there be an issue of groomer error. Let me clarify this as well. If your dog turns out to be sensitive to a particular length of cut, and you do not tell your groomer IMMEDIATELY so they can make the appropriate notation in its file FOR THE NEXT GROOMING APPOINTMENT, or if that grooming establishment is new for you, or you have not made them aware of your pet's sensitivity in a timely manner, it is still your error, not theirs. I say this "timely manner=immediately" because usually more than one blade length is used on any given dog and there is some variations, for shop and artistic reasons as I noted before, that make it very important for you to communicate with your groomer asap about any issues you have with your pet. In fact, it can be hard, after doing several dogs in one day, to remember small pre-existing conditions on an individual dog.

Karen, I have included excerpts from my article, below, to help clarify this issue. Thank you for your comment and the chance you gave me to clarify this issue. Please look for a followup article that I will be doing, hopefully soon, on a similar issue that you may enjoy. A death in my immediate family has kept me from doing that article already. Thanks for reading!!! Sindee

such a close "shave", does not necessarily mean the fault on the one who did the clippering.

This would be unavoidable due to the need for a close shave for the procedure being done.

Even though she may be used to using the same blade in that body part for each dog, it may be not only that your dog is more sensitive, but there are sometimes, though rare, reasons for a temporary change in blades in use that day-shop stuff that I won't bore you with here

she will be happy to make the adjustment for your dog.

the redness you see there after a grooming was probably already there, that redness is caused by the constant irratation of always being wet by the eyes.

that it was there before you brought the dog in.

Bevy78 4 years ago

The Vet Tech and Bather at our Vet's office for our long haired doodle with mats butchered and and shaved off mats giving him razor burn. They had to give us ( and by the way FREE) a Cortizone shot, then prednisone pills and anti bacterial spray. They created a situation he didn't have and if they could not have taken off the mats correctly they should have said so and referred us to a groomer. We got credit for the charge of extra time to butcher the mats but they should have credited us for the whole bath also. We're changing vets and if his skin condition continues we will sue them!

Sindee Palomino profile image

Sindee Palomino 4 years ago Author

I am so sorry that your pet had to suffer this way. I am at a loss as to why a "Bather" was using clippers or trying to shave a severely matted dog in the first place. There are definitely different qualifications for someone who specializes in bathing and drying, someone who is what is sometimes referred to as a "Rough Groomer" and someone who is, and is qualified to be, a "Finish Groomer". There are distinctly different levels of training and competency and there are many in the industry who are trying to change the industry to prevent those without the necessary qualifications from practicing that which they are painfully (pun intended) not qualified to do(similar to cosmetologist licensing). I will get together some info. for you to help you in your quest for a QUALIFIED groomer in the future.

Sindee Palomino profile image

Sindee Palomino 4 years ago Author

I'm not sure what I did wrong, but part of my comment above was not included in the posting, so I will say it here.

Bevy78, I wanted to say thank you for letting me make this point of qualifications for groomers. In my article, I was working with something that I sometimes take for granted-the idea that groomers should be properly trained and active in the grooming industry, including furthering their training to stay up on current products and their use, techniques, safety, current trends, customer satifaction, etc.

Again, I thank you for letting me stress this need for only doing work which one is qualified for. It sounds like a referral was definitely in order.

Bev 4 years ago

To Sandy Palomino: Thanks for all your comments and we will certainly be more carefull next time. Ths is the first dog we've had with this type of coat. I'm sure when the Vet's office gave us all that free medicine they were really trying to cover their you know what. It's going to take a long time for his hair to grow back, and for the itching and biting to stop. We took him off the prednisone and just really watch him.

Ozsavers 4 years ago

This is very informative. Will make reference for my pets.

num1nonnie 2 years ago

My dog got razor burned after a sanitary cut was giving during his last grooming. He's picking and all has resulted in it being reddish/brownish in color. He's listless, won't eat and looks to be in some pain. I've given him small does prednisone/baby aspirin, a topical gel"hotspot" which he seems to like, bacitraicn ointment, neosporin. Most of which he's licked of until I bought an e-collar. Could account for him not eating unless I hand feed him. Even then he will not eat his regular dog food. I have to come up with other things that won't be upsetting his tummy. Anyway..he'll drink if I bring him the bowl, but if I gather it in a syringe, he'll take it readily. I thought the e-collar had been modified to fit..but after a night..he'd started to be able to get at it still!! We've altered the collar again..but..ALL that explanation for asking if Cortaid spray or some caladryl lotion is better than the hotspot gel and antibiotic applications I've already mentioned. I also have some antibiotics to give if I need too. His temp is fine and his nose is cold and wet to the touch. Not pouring a lot, but when he does its large and not pooping cause he's not eating enough to really process.

Terri 2 years ago

My Golden had razor burn due to a sanitary cut. Before I knew this had occurred, he had licked and chewed it all night the day of the grooming. The next morning, he was about to climb the walls. I applied Witch Hazel and an ice pack to bring down the redness and swelling. I then applied Benadryl to the surrounding area around his penis, along with oral Benadryl and then applied Neosporin to the raw area on the tip of his penis, where he had chewed. Then I gave him Nature's Calming treats to calm him down. He finally calmed down and rested the entire afternoon from being awake all night. He eventually ate his food the following evening and seems to be doing much better. I continued the oral Benadryl (2 per dose for 80 lb dog) every 6 hours and kept the area clean and applied Neosporin to the raw area for two days .

Willie 22 months ago


I have two Spaniels and they sometimes come back with clipper rash from the parlour. My homeopath suggested the following: Hepar Sulph (5 pills in the morning and evening) and SuperHydro Gel from Silver Genesis (applied on cleaned rash in the morning and in the evening). Works like a dream, a day or two and the rash is completely gone.

Jen 4 weeks ago

Can a dog get clipper burn from a #5F blade?

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