Why Is My Dog So Uncomfortable After Grooming?

Photo by waferboard on Flickr

You think you’re doing your dog a favor by taking him to the groomer for a nice trim and there he is, all moping around and visibly unhappy.

What can you do?

First of all you need to know that there’s probably nothing seriously wrong with your beloved pet.

These things happen and it might not be the groomer’s fault.

Let’s have a look at the most common problems that can appear after a grooming session and what you can do to soothe your dog, because that’s all that matters right now.

What you will learn from this article

Skin irritation after grooming

This is perhaps the most common side-effect of a grooming session.

Just as a man shaving his face every morning, dogs can experience clipper burn or razor rashes.

This tends to happen a lot when the dog had a severe matting problem and needed a very close shave.

In such cases, professional groomers use an electric shaver to perform a stripping, as the removal of matted hair is known.

A lot of things can go wrong with that, from using the wrong blade to the razor getting too hot and giving your dog a burn. Nicking of the skin is always quite common and if it’s quite superficial and doesn’t cause much bleeding you won’t be aware of that.

Whatever the reason, your dog is left with a skin irritation that will make him miserable for a few hours or even days.

Here are the main symptoms indicating your dog has a skin irritation:

  • Restlessness
  • Rubbing his head, backside or other part of the body against the carpet or a piece of furniture
  • Scratching
  • Licking the affected area
  • Tenderness to the touch

Once you notice any of these symptoms, try to examine your dog’s skin to look for nicks and understand the extent of the irritation.

Get on the phone with the groomer and ask for their opinion. Did they notice any skin problem before starting the trimming? Was there any bleeding?

In most cases the groomer will be able to recommend an ointment to soothe your suffering pet. They might also ask you to bring the dog in to have a look at him. Some professionals take such issues seriously and try to be as helpful as possible, by offering a free soothing bath for your dog or a complimentary ointment to deal with the problem.

While at the moment your immediate concern is getting help for your dog, do take notice of the groomer’s behaviour. If they are rude and dismiss your concerns offhand you might want to find another groomer for the future.

If you notice some cuts on your dog’s skin, an antiseptic would be a great idea. Just don’t use alcohol as it burns the skin. You could try an apple cider vinegar  solution (half vinegar, half water) to disinfect the area. Don’t apply undiluted apple cider vinegar as it stings and your dog is already miserable. 

On the other hand, if you notice bumps and signs of inflammation, you should go to the vet for an expert opinion. In some rare cases, skin irritations can lead to infections, which will make your dog even more miserable and will be more difficult (and costly) to treat.

Relief for skin irritation after grooming

If your dog only appears to have a minor case of razor burn you can safely treat that at home.

  • Clean the affected area with tepid water, rinse well and pat it dry with a clean towel.
  • If you have an ointment for dogs with sensitive skin you can apply a bit on the affected area. Ointments containing hypochlorous acid are particularly recommended to treat skin irritation in dogs and other pets.
  • To prevent infection, you can use an antibiotic-based cream or ointment, such as Neosporin.
  • On the other hand, you can also use a bit of Aloe vera gel, but make sure the dog won’t lick it off as it might be toxic. Baby powder will do in a pinch.
  • Try to prevent your dog from licking or scratching the affected area as this can make matters much worse. An Elizabethan cone worn for a couple of days will keep your pet from getting to the irritated area. Or you can look for an inflatable doughnut collar, known as a Kong Cloud, which is more comfortable for the dog as it doesn’t restrict his vision.  
  • If you find scabs on your dog’s skin in the days following a grooming session, it’s probably because he scratched that area despite your best efforts. An antibiotic ointment will help prevent an infection.

Why is my dog licking his private parts after grooming?

If your pet is obsessively licking his or her private parts after grooming, that was clearly caused by a too close shave. It is a very sensitive area so it doesn’t take much for the skin to become irritated. With females you might notice some swelling of the vulva or redness. You need to take action as the dog’s efforts to soothe the pain can lead to the area becoming more irritated.

One of the best home remedies you can try is an oatmeal anti-itching bath. Prepare a warm bath for your dog and pour in a cupful of ground oatmeal. Let the dog soak in it for 10-15 minutes or longer if your pet has the patience for that. If the dog calms down after this you might want to give him another soothing bath a few hours later, preferably before bedtime.

Don’t be alarmed if the dog licks some of the oatmeal in his bathwater as it is not toxic to dogs. 

If you don’t have oatmeal, you can try chamomile, which is also very soothing. Put several tea bags in the bath water or you can prepare a strong chamomile tea and pour it in the bathing water.

Make sure to tell your groomer to be more careful with that area next time you take your dog for a trim, or better yet, tell them to leave it alone altogether.

Why is my dog scooting after grooming?

A dog scooting after grooming is a sign of something wrong in the backside area. It might be related to an irritation to his or her private parts, but it might also have to do with the anal glands. If your dog had those glands expressed during the grooming session he might simply feel uncomfortable. It is after all an intrusion in a very delicate area. 

In rare cases, scooting might indicate some tearing or rupturing of the anal glands. If your dog doesn’t calm down by the next day and seems to be unwell you should see the vet to make sure the area is not infected.

Why is my dog biting his tail after grooming?

Many pet owners complain their dogs manifest very weird behaviour after grooming, like staring at their own butt or trying to catch and bite their tails.

Just like the private parts, the tail is also a very sensitive area and an upward close shave can cause irritation. Try a soothing bath and some ointment and don’t forget to mention the issue to your groomer next time you see them.

You might also want to call the groomer and ask if any sort of rear harness, a contraption that looks like this, was used during the session. It is possible that your dog struggled and hurt himself trying to get out of the harness. In some cases, dogs can pull a muscle trying to break free. If you see your dog limping a bit after a grooming session, this might be the cause.

Why is my dog vomiting after grooming?

When a pet owner sees his dog vomiting in the hours or days after grooming, their first assumption is that the dog must have picked some bug while there. While this is entirely possible, most often the vomiting episodes are stress related. 

The whole experience can be very traumatic to the dog – from the stress of being left in some stranger’s care to being roughly handled by the groomer. Add to that the noise of the shaver or the indignity of having the anal glands expressed and you will understand why your dog is out of sorts. 

While the vomiting has a psychological cause and not a stomach issue, put your pet on a bland diet for a couple of days until his tummy settles down.

Can grooming can cause emotional trauma to sensitive dogs?

Some dogs have no problem whatsoever with grooming, but for the more sensitive ones the whole experience amounts to torture. Some of the symptoms of the emotional trauma you might notice include

  • Pacing around
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Shaking
  • Hiding
  • Urination or defecation in the house

Your dog will remember the whole traumatic incident and work himself in a full-blown panic attack next time you’re heading for the groomer.

The best thing you can do is try counter-conditioning to help him overcome his fear. Teach your dog it’s OK to be handled and touched on his head, ears or even privates and nothing will happen to him. Also, try socializing your dog more so he can get accustomed to being around strangers.

If your dog has a really negative experience, try making different arrangements for grooming. If you can find a professional willing to come to your home that would be great. Or you can look for a groomer with a small business where they handle one dog at a time in a calm atmosphere. Ask to be there with your pet while they do the grooming and reassure your dog he’s perfectly safe.

Key Takeaway

If your dog feels uncomfortable after grooming it might be because he got a skin irritation or he disliked the groomer’s handling of his private parts. Try to relieve the itchiness with a soothing bath and some ointment. Don’t make such a big deal of it or your dog’s perception of him being the victim of a vile incident will only be reinforced and he will raise hell next time you try taking him to the groomer.

Try to understand what caused the problem and talk to the groomer about it. Have them be more gentle next time and skip the sanitary trim if necessary.

Also, keep in mind that a grooming session can be a traumatic experience for a dog and take steps to alleviate his anxiety. Or go to a different groomer next time.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!