Hey there, check out my updated (2022) guide about clipper burn on dogs.
Like humans, dogs can also get clipper burns (also known as razor burns) from time to time. This is a rather unpleasant skin irritation that can cause a lot of suffering to your puppy.
But do not worry. Thanks to my many years of experience and long-term research, I have compiled an extensive guide for you.
In my article, you can learn about possible causes, treatment options, and prevention tips.
Let’s get started!
What is dog clipper burn?
Clipper burn (also known as razor burn or razor rash) is an unpleasant problem affecting many dogs after grooming.
It is important to note that this does not mean literal burns. Instead, it is a form of skin irritation that causes an itchy burning sensation in dogs.
The skin becomes red, and in the worst case, wounds and bleeding can also occur in the problematic area.
When your dog scratches and licks the itchy skin, the situation is even worse. Scratching further destroys skin cells, and licking creates a moist environment. The latter can lead to further irritation and even an infected wound.
It is clear from the above that the problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible. In most cases, razor burn does not occur immediately after grooming, making diagnosis somewhat tricky.
Although, in theory, dog clipper burn can occur on any part of the body, you should pay close attention to the following areas:
- Throat, cheek, feet, tail (especially when you are clipping a Poodle)
- Under eyes (In many cases, even scissors can cause such problems)
- All areas covered by hard-to-handle matted coats
What can cause clipper burn on your dog?
Razor burns are pretty common, but the causes can be varied. Most people think that the source of the problem is the hot clipper blades. However, this is just one of many factors that may come into play. Let’s see what else can be in the background:
Dull dog clipper blades
The most common cause of irritation is worn dull blades. This is because such a clipper blade does not cut effectively but instead pulls your dog’s fur. The result is inflamed skin and a razor rash.
It is crucial that if you feel that your clipper is not cutting correctly, do not force or push it harder. That only exacerbates the problem. If you notice that your blades are worn, replace them immediately.
You should know that most clippers without cords do not have detachable blades but adjustable ones. So for such products, replacing the blades is not an option.
Warm overheated blades
You probably think that a hot clipper blade can cause burns to your dog. Well, for extremely sensitive skin, this can really happen.
But honestly, I have never personally ever seen a dog that has been burned by a blade. In fact, I haven’t heard of such a case from professional groomers.
The problem stems more from friction. Friction alone dulls the blades, and this process goes even faster at higher temperatures. And really dull blades cause more irritation.
Some dogs simply have more sensitive skin than others. In case of skin allergies, you should perform grooming very carefully.
Many times you may be doing everything perfectly, yet you are causing your pooch to be a clipper burn. In that case, please do your best to treat it (I’ll write about that later).
If you visit a professional groomer, let him know about your dog’s problematic skin.
Too close clipping
Hair clipping that is too close increases the risk of razor burn. Therefore, always select the correct blade size. If you are not a true professional, neglect blades #30 or larger.
In some cases, however, clipping or shaving too close is inevitable, such as surgery at the veterinarian.
Dogs with matted coats are much more prone to clipper burn. There are several reasons for this.
On the one hand, groomers need to make a closer cut due to the mats, which increases the irritation. Also, matted coats require more pressure, and hair-pulling is common.
In many cases, matted hair hides the problem (such as a skin allergy) that clipping reveals. In addition, mats retain moisture, which favors infections and can make already problematic skin even more sensitive.
So the bottom line is that in some cases, you don’t irritate your pooch with the clipper; you just manage to find it.
Anyway, check out my guide on the best clippers for matted dog hair.
Well, razor burn isn’t explicitly caused by fleas, in fact, it’s not really razor burn, but it’s worth mentioning.
Flea stings are very uncomfortable and can cause itching. Continuous scratching can cause unpleasant symptoms, especially when you cut off your dog’s long coat, and the skin will become free.
It is good to eradicate all fleas and ticks well before the grooming procedure, and you also need to think about prevention.
Skin diseases, injuries
Pre-existing skin conditions, irritations, and injuries are hidden and protected if covered with a thick layer of hair. However, due to clipping, problems can come up again. If your dog starts scratching and licking the delicate area, the situation is even worse.
Inexperienced groomers often put excessive pressure on the clippers on dogs’ skin. This inevitably leads to irritation and razor burn. Never force things. Every clipper has a speed, and you have to feel it.
What if your dog gets clipper burn from the groomer?
Did you take your dog to a professional groomer, and the result was an unpleasant razor rash? Well, I understand that this can affect you sensitively.
But the most important thing is not to overreact to the situation.
There are standard practices and rules in the grooming industry, but not all groomers tend to follow them at all costs.
Good communication is essential. Since clipper burn occurs 1-2 days after grooming in most cases, it is better to call your groomer as soon as possible after experiencing symptoms.
This way, you have a chance to find out what kind and length of blades he has used on your dog.
Together, you can figure out what adjustments are needed to avoid unpleasant surprises after grooming sessions in the future.
How to treat clipper burn On Dogs?
Now that we’ve looked at the possible causes of clipper burn let’s look at what options you have for treatment.
Check the severity (Assess)
The first step is to determine how severe the clipper burn is. A typical irritation with some bumps can be treated perfectly with home remedies.
However, if there is a wound in the area in question (due to a lot of licking and scraping, for example), bleeding, or other fluid coming out of it, you don’t want to solve the problem alone. In this case, it is best to visit your vet immediately.
Clean the area
If you have decided to treat your dog’s clipper burn yourself, the next step is to clean it. Do not use hot water. Dogs find it harder to tolerate high temperatures anyway, and clipper burn worsens the situation.
Cold (or lukewarm) water and a little gentle dog shampoo (oatmeal-based products are best) are excellent choices.
Keep it dry
After cleaning and rinsing thoroughly, dry the problem area. Moisture promotes further inflammation. You can use a towel or a hairdryer. Only operate the latter in a cool setting. The heat is unfavorable for clipper burn.
Soothe the burns with safe and effective remedies
You can choose from a wide variety of treatments, including natural and less natural remedies.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe is deservedly popular because it also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects. However, it would be best if you were careful with this plant. This is because the pure gel extracted from aloe leaves contains saponins, which are toxic to dogs. Among the products made for canines, there are suitable ones, but you should always consult your veterinarian.
- Hypochlorous acid: Although its name refers to acidity, hypochlorous acid has a neutral pH and is excellent for treating various skin irritations. It is essentially produced by white blood cells in response to infections. That’s why it’s so effective. One of the most popular products containing hypochlorous acid is Vetericyn.
- Antibiotic ointments: Antibiotic ointments are great for clipper burn, especially if there is also an infection in the problematic area. Neosporin is one of the most popular products containing such ointment. Some dogs may be allergic to it, so you may want to consult your veterinarian here as well. Choose the ointment form instead of the cream form because it contains fewer additives. Also, buy a product that does not have painkillers, as canines tend to respond to them quite poorly.
- Vitamin E: The effects of vitamins on health are unquestionable. An example is vitamin E, which is a natural skin remedy and effectively relieves irritation.
In addition to the above, your vet may recommend other ointments, gels, and medications that may contain steroids. I personally tend to avoid these, but of course, I always recommend listening to the expert of your choice. Your veterinarian knows your dog best.
Monitoring your pup’s condition
Your dog’s condition of razor burn may get worse. In this case, stop using topical treatment immediately and call your veterinarian. You may want to talk to him even if you don’t notice any change days later.
How to prevent dog clipper burn?
Problems like clipper burn can occur from time to time. The above treatment methods are very helpful, but the wisest thing is to do everything you can to prevent the irritation.
Whether you’re a professional groomer or a dog owner who regularly takes your pup to a groomer or someone who tries grooming at home, the tips below are sure to be helpful.
Talk with your groomer
If you’re not doing the grooming yourself, you might want to talk to your groomer before the session. Especially if you found a new groomer for your dog.
Tell him about your experience so far. He should know if your dog has any skin conditions, particular sensitivities, and the blade size that might be causing the problem.
If you want to clip your dog’s fur, it might still be a good idea to ask a professional for help.
Choose your blades properly
Remember, too close clipping is one of the leading causes of dog razor rush. Choose your clipper blade wisely. I do not recommend blades larger than #10 for dogs with sensitive skin.
Clip only once
Try to clip an area only once. This can be quite a challenge for thick hair, but it shouldn’t be a problem with a heavy-duty clipper.
If you still have to go through a part of your dog more than once, be prepared for the clipper burn to come out.
Use a high-quality dog clipper
I think this point should not be over-explained. Don’t expect good results with a poor-quality tool. My personal favorite dog clipper brands are Andis, Wahl, and Oster. These companies make the best professional dog clippers.
Oil your blades
Oiling helps to avoid overheating and prolongs the life of the blades. Both results are good for us, as they significantly reduce the chances of clipper burn.
Don’t hesitate to sharpen your dog clipper blades if needed. Of course, no problem if you’re not a typical DIY person. Some companies undertake to sharpen blades. But you can also buy new blades. The point is not to start your grooming session with worn-out products.
Check blade temperature
You can quickly check if your clipper blade is hot. Just put it on your forearm. If necessary, wait a while for the blade to cool down or replace it with another one. There are cooling sprays developed for this purpose.
Clean the clipper
Various contaminants can cause snags and other malfunctions in dog clippers. Such defects increase the chance of developing razor burns. Therefore, you should properly care for your dog clipper regularly.
If the clipper burn develops, moisture will have an adverse effect. However, moisturizing healthy skin makes it resistant to irritation. A well-chosen dog shampoo and a nutritious diet can help keep your dog’s skin healthy.
Your dog’s skin
As I said, some dogs’ skin is simply overly prone to clipper burns. You may want to know your dog’s skin to prepare yourself (or your groomer) for any harmful consequences.
The following tips may help you resolve this issue in the future.
- Do not let your dog lick the injured or treated area: It is a natural reaction for your dog to want to lick the irritated area of the skin. However, it also dramatically increases the time required for recovery. In addition, it can also cause a lot of problems if your dog swallows the creams or medicines needed for the treatment. The Elizabethan collar can be an excellent way to prevent licking.
- Use the same groomer: As a dog owner, you should go to the same groomer every time. You can still ask the same person if you go to a salon where multiple groomers work. After all, it is essential to start the session with an expert who knows your dog’s skin and fur.
- Check for areas that your dog is constantly licking: Such areas are much more sensitive. They are easy to recognize as the skin is much redder, and the hair is often rarer or discolored.
As you can see, dog clipper burns are unpleasant conditions, but treating and preventing them is absolutely not difficult.
I think the most important thing is to choose an excellent quality clipper and blades and communicate with the owner (if you are a groomer) or the groomer (if you are an owner).
I hope my article has helped you successfully avoid similar problems in the future.