First Aid Corner
Understanding clipper burn – vital knowledge for every groomer.
We need to do everything we can to avoid the risks of clipper burn but also be aware that it can happen. We need to be able to explain what clipper ben is to customers (before they read alarmist nonsense on the web!) and help them to treat any skin irritation that their dogs might experience. Here is a quick summary of what you need to know:
What is Clipper Burn?
Clipper burn is the same thing as the “razor burn” men sometimes get from shaving and it isn’t always caused by hot clipper blades. It is a skin irritation which will itch a lot, and the dog will scratch and/or lick it, causing a moist surface which irritates more . . . this will very quickly break the skin and cause open, infected sores. However, this will normally happen after the dog has left your salon and you or the customer will be none the wiser until the dog has made the skin very sore!
The common areas to watch out for are:
Throat, cheeks, feet and tail on a poodle
Under eyes on a shihtzu (scissors are in this area but cutting the hair close here can sometimes cause a reaction)
Under thick tightly matted areas
Preventing clipper burn
Here are a few practical steps you can take:
Blade choice and direction
If the dog has a pale skin (white, cream or apricot) or has not been clipped for some time it would be a prime candidate for “clipper burn”. In these cases it would be advisable to use a longer blade or make sure you clip gently with the lay of the coat.
Don’t clip over the same area again and again. If you have had difficulty in clipping an area (for example, where the coat may have been tightly matted) explain to the customer what could possibly happen and advise them to keep an eye on the dog to prevent it from scratching at the area(s) you have clipped. The customer will now be aware of the possible oncoming reaction and will hopefully bring the dog to you sooner next time!
Always use cool and well lubricated blades
Always make sure that the blade you are using is cool and oiled. Change the blade if necessary. NEVER put a hot blade on a dog’s skin!
Be extremely careful clipping the genitalia. Some dogs I trim are very sensitive in the groin. With these dogs I will carefully scissor away the hair or use a comb attachment. All my dogs will get a quick baby-talc rub on their tummies after clipping, as I find this stops the “prickly sensation” and stops them worrying about it.
Stopping the itching?
If the skin is just red and not broken, most pet stores can sell you a spray bottle of an anti-itch preparation. You will want one that deadens the itch and has a nasty taste to stop the dog from licking the area. Using the spray for a day or two is usually all you need to do for it to heal. Sudocrem is also quite good, as is aloe vera jelly.
A trip to the vet
If the dog has broken the skin, the dog is possibly going to need antibiotics and probably an Elizabethan collar to prevent further irritation of the affected areas. A trip to the vet should be recommended.