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Avoiding and Treating Post Clippering Irritation

Suggestions from the Kerry Community

In October of 2003, I sent out a request to the Kerry community asking for information and suggestions on how to avoid and/or treat post clippering irritation on my dogs and especially Reggie, my rescue guy, for whom it is a recurring problem. I received a total of 33 responses from folks around the globe and I will try here to compile and pass on that information so that all our Kerry pals can benefit.

My Reggie has extremely sensitive skin and a number of allergies which may or may not be related to his skin sensitivity. The allergies that we are aware of currently seem to be food related. He is especially reactive to the preservatives in commercial dog foods and must be maintained on a diet which provides no more than 18-20% protein. Reggie also suffers from Calcium Oxalate bladder stones, a chronic condition wherein a substance called nephrocalcin in his urine does not properly process the Oxalate in his diet, thus the formation of the stones in his bladder. This can only be partially managed through a diet low in Oxalate.

I preface this article with an explanation of Reggie’s health situation only to point out that his skin is quite possibly more sensitive to irritation than Kerries with a more normal profile. Despite that caveat, many of our Kerries suffer uncomfortable skin irritation from the clippering which is a necessary part of their grooming regime. This is especially true along their tummies, buttocks and genital areas, where the skin is most sensitive.

First and Formost Prevention:

Clipper and Blade Maintenance

1. Keep blades sharp and clippers cleaned, disinfected, and properly maintained. That means running blades in cleaning solution after every grooming session and carefully wiping the excess solution off. I suggest having at least 2 sets of #10, #15, #30 or #40 blades in your grooming kit so that one set is always optimally sharp.

2. Keep the clipper motor greased, oiled and clean so that it runs smoothly and at optimal speed. If you are not comfortable doing this job yourself, the person to whom you send your blades and scissors for sharpening is generally well versed in clipper maintenance.

3. Don’t let your blades get hot. Check regularly. If they feel hot to you, they could burn your kerries skin and cause serious irritation. There is a name for this: “Clipper Burn”. One suggestion that I like is to store extra blades in the refrigerator during a grooming session so that cool alternates are always on hand. You can also spray hot blades with “Kool Lube”. Several of the folks who wrote in cautioned that they have seen skin irritation on dogs from the Kool Lube, itself. Make sure to wipe the solution from the blades after you spray so that as little as possible gets on the dog’s skin.

4. Several respondents suggested that one should clipper sensitive areas first, when the clipper is fresh and cool. For dogs with sensitive skin, clipper only with the lay of the hair and make no more than one pass. Another suggestion was to use a blade which leaves the coat longer on the tummy area. I assume she means a #8 blade or below.

5. I would also recommend the Oster Elite blades. They are more expensive but run very smooth and stay sharper longer. Pet’s Edge, formerly New England Serum, offers the best price I have found. There is also a new ceramic blade on the market by Top Performance. It’s claim to fame is that it stays cooler and sharper for a much longer time. The tech support person at Pets Edge, who is also a professional groomer, gave it very good reviews, and they sell for about the same price as regular blades. The downside is that if you drop ceramic it will break. Also, they need to be sharpened with a diamond sharpener. Make sure your clipper doc has one if you are considering a move to ceramic.

What if the above suggestions didn’t work?

List of suggestions for Irritation Relief from the Kerry community

1. After Shave lotion post clippering. This is soothing and antiseptic as well.
2. Hydrocortisone Cream
3. Skin Works by Senproco, to order call (800-748-1777
) 4. Witch Hazel
5. Johnson’s Baby Powder and or Johnson’s First Aid Cream
6. Alcohol based (nonflavored) mouthwash or vodka as an antiseptic (less harsh than rubbing alcohol)
7. Vellus Satin Cream (for clipper burn.) To order go to
8. Gold Bond Medicated Powder (make sure area is dry before applying)
(I worry about licking. There is a warning on the container about not taking internally. I wonder if there is a non-toxic baby version of Gold Bond?)
9. Bag Balm (used extensively to sooth cows udders)
10. Vitamin E (just poke a hole in a capsule and squeeze. Spread the oil around the affected area.)
11. Lanolin or Preparation H (I really like this one.)
12. Keep area lubricated with a soothing lotion.
13. Keep area dry.

To summarize:

Based on the volume of response to my quest for information, it’s obvious that many of our Kerries have suffered post clippering irritation of one form or another. In my experience, the discomfort usually subsides within a couple of days using baby powder and Calendula baby lotion or Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion, (which I use myself as a moisturizer). Both of these lotions are non-toxic. I’m going to try the Preparation-H suggestion, if this happens again…but I am really going to be conscientious about prevention. It’s terribly unpleasant for the dogs, and I don’t like spending days on end consumed with guilt for having caused their discomfort.

Most important:
One of the respondents mentioned that clipper burn can turn into “nasty sores” without treatment. If your dog experiences clipper burn, rash or irritation, keep it dry, clean and soothed. If there is no improvement within a couple of days or if it looks like it’s getting worse, call your vet immediately. “Nasty sores” sound really nasty.

Please Note:
Not all clipper docs are created equal. Some are excellent and some have been known to totally wreck scissors and clippers. Once again I went to the Kerry community for recommendations on their favorite docs. I received two responses, ironically one on the west coast and one on the east:

Bev Bracken swears by “Blade Master” in California. She is trying to find his contact information as we speak.

Vickie Kniering recommends a “little old man” in Cromwell, CT. He used to sharpen all the Oster and Andis’s blades. Although he is semi-retired, he still sharpens for individual clients. His phone # is 860-635-4883.

If you have any excellent suggestions, please feel free to contribute.

Mimi Wight


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