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.