When grooming any type of breed, you have to be very careful not to injure the skin. Slicker brushes, clippers, and scissors can all cause serious injury to a dog's skin. For dogs with sensitive skin, use tools lightly and take special care when grooming a dog with skin problems. Skin conditions are for a vet to deal with, and not for the groomer to try and solve. Skin problems that can be caused by or aggravated by grooming include the following:
Allergies: Many dogs develop allergies from food, external environmental sources, or inhaled substances. In dogs, allergies are most likely to show on the skin. The most common type of allergy in dogs is the flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Allergies can develop as rashes, hives, severe itching, and/or baldness. Never brush over rashes or hives. If hair is tangled, work through gently with a comb. Allergies can trigger a nasty cycle as they cause itching, which causes scratching and licking, which causes more irritation. Even after the fleas are eliminated, the negative effects on a dog's skin can last for a long time. Always consult your vet for any signs or symptoms of allergic reaction. Your vet can advise you about how to properly groom hair over these areas.
Brush Burn and Clipper Burn: These skin conditions are a direct result of grooming. Brush burn is caused by brushing too hard, damaging the skin. Clipper burn is a result of allowing a clipper to become too hot, which occurs with extended use, burning the dog. Not only can such grooming mishaps be prevented, but when they occur, they can also make future grooming sessions extremely difficult for both the groomer as well as the dogs.
Always Brush Gently: This is especially true with a wire slicker brush, which can be sharp. Short, gentle strokes are better than long, hard ones to work out tangles. When brushing vigorously down to the skin, use a natural bristle brush and save the slicker brush for working out mats. Also use caution with pin brushes.
Turn Off Clippers Frequently: Have spare blades handy when the blades you are using get too hot, or use a cooling spray for your clipper. Touch the clipper blade frequently to make sure it isn't too hot. Never run clippers over sensitive areas, like the chin and neck more than twice, especially when using a #10 or #15 blade.
See the Special Care For Grooming Sensitive Dog Skin: Part 2 page
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