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How to Prevent and Treat Clipper Burn After Dog Grooming or Shaving

Sindee owns a small farm with goats, some chickens, a horse, rabbits, and dogs.

Can dogs get razor burn?

Can dogs get razor burn?

Why Did My Dog Get Clipper Burn or Razor Rash?

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 remind 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 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.

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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 of each groomer are just a little different for 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 are 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).

Common Treatment for Clipper Burn

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 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 a three-in-one antibiotic ointment (Neosporin). I cannot prescribe anything for your particular dog, and 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 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.
  • 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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Bob on September 26, 2018:

I use the same groomer every other week. I tip her very well. She needs to remove her head from her ass. This should not have taken place. I sent a text to the place stating what took place. Vet visit with ointment, two different meds, and a cone for his head. Also, a day out of work. Not even a reply from "My Lucky Dog" Smithfield R.I. My dog is a Lhasa Also...I feel I have let him dow. He is the "Best".

sandy nan on December 04, 2016:

when grooming, blades should be changed about every 5 to 10 minutes as they will get HOT fast there is a need to touch the blade to ones inner arm often to check the warmth. Also there is no need to shave the under belly

( called the hygiene area ) to the skin , trimming the area to remove hairs so pee doesn't get splashed on the fur and trimming fur away helps the dog groom himself better. Is your groomer certified did they attend a valid grooming school, beware there are a lot of self taught groomers out there that can harm your pets, yet you are paying the same price.

Jen on September 27, 2016:

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

Willie on December 26, 2014:


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.

Terri on May 18, 2014:

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 .

num1nonnie on March 28, 2014:

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.

Ozsavers on June 26, 2012:

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

Bev on May 20, 2012:

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.

Sindee Palomino (author) on May 19, 2012:

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.