How To Handle Razor Burn On Your Dog’s Privates

Dr Daisy May, MRCVS BVSc, Vet Surgeon
How To Handle Razor Burn On Your Dog’s Privates

When it comes to pet grooming and hygiene, it is very important to pay very close to every part of your pet’s body, including their privates. While grooming, trimming, and shaving is common, this practice can cause them to be susceptible to razor burns.

This skin condition can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog, and if left untreated can develop to be a more serious infection.

In this article, we will explore how razor burns occur, including steps on how they can be treated, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How Does Razor Burn to Occur?

Razor burn affecting your dog’s privates (ie, around the anus and/or genitals) can be an unpleasant consequence of over-enthusiastic grooming, or of clipping your pet’s sanitary areas due to matting or for hygiene purposes.

It can also occur following veterinary treatment for various conditions affecting this area (such as hotspots and other forms of dermatitis, or a severe flea or lice infestation) during which the genital and/or anal region needed to be clipped as part of the medical treatment plan.

Most cases of razor burn do not truly burn at all, but rather skin irritation which has happened as a result of clippers causing micro-damage to the skin’s surface. Microdamage is damage that is happening on a microscopic scale and is not immediately visible to the naked eye.

Sometimes, macroscopic (larger scale) damage also occurs, and you may see small scrapes, cuts, or grazes on the affected area as a result of clipper use. This type of razor burn on your dog’s privates is more likely to occur if an incorrect or inappropriate clipper blade size was used, or if your dog has particularly sensitive skin. 

A second type of razor burn that can occur is a ‘true’ razor burn, which is a type of thermal burn affecting the area. Electric clippers heat up during use, and the metal blades can become excessively hot if clipped for an extended period of time.

If a large area was being clipped (for example, if you have a larger breed of dog) then it is possible that the razor burn occurred due to the metal clipper blade overheating and quite literally burning the skin around your dog’s privates.

It is crucially important that the operator checks the temperature of the metal clipper blade by switching it off and then holding it against the sensitive skin of their inner wrist on a very regular basis during use, to help avoid razor burn.

Quicking Dog Nails Under Anesthesia

What Are The Symptoms Of Razor Burn?

If your dog is experiencing razor burn, you will notice the initial signs very quickly (within an hour or so) of the skin around his/her privates being clipped. In some cases, the signs will then get worse over the following 12-24 hours.

The first sign you may notice is the appearance of red scratches or lines on the skin around your dog’s privates, or in some cases, a speckly red rash. In these cases, it is usually micro and macro trauma from the scratching of the clipped blades on the skin, which is to blame for the razor burn.

Where an overly hot metal clipped blade is to blame for the razor burn (ie, a true heat burn has occurred) the skin may blister or begin to flake over the next 12-48 hours. In these cases, it is best to see a vet promptly.

In both instances, your dog is likely to be bothered by the razor burn. They will feel sore and raw around their privates and may try to lick the area, rub it on the floor, or otherwise bother at it.

Because razor burns damage the skin’s surface (whether due to trauma or heat), it disrupt the body’s main natural barrier against infection. This means that the area will be vulnerable to bacterial infections whilst healing, so it is important to keep a close eye on things (see below).

How To Handle The Razor Burn

There are several steps you can take to help your dog feel better and recover faster after a razor burn has occurred.

Keep the area clean and dry.

If the area becomes dirty due to your dog toileting, you can clean it with a solution of 1 part Hibiscrub to 25 parts warm water. If you can’t use Hibiscrubs, you can substitute this for a solution of 1 part 10% povidone-iodine solution with 15 parts warm water.

Place an Elizabethan collar on your dog.

This device is easily available at most pet shops. It is perhaps more commonly known as ‘the cone of shame’, or as I prefer to call it, the ‘cone of honor!’

If you are confident that your dog is experiencing only the skin irritation type of razor burn, and not a thermal burn, you can apply a pet-safe barrier cream such as unscented petroleum jelly cream to the area.

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See a vet

If your pet is experiencing a true thermal burn as a result of unsafe clipper use, it is best to see a vet. They may prescribe a cream containing silver sulfadiazine (eg, flamazine cream) or a similar treatment, along with pain relief. In rare cases if the burn is very severe, more intensive veterinary treatment may be necessary.

Stay vigilant for signs of a skin infection affecting the area. If you notice discharge, excessive moistness, an increase in redness, swelling, or a bad smell from the area, see a vet without delay.

How Long Will It Take To Heal?

This really depends upon a couple of factors, including the type and severity of the razor burn; the size of the burned area; whether the area becomes infected; how quickly treatment was started and how well it was adhered to; and (crucially!).

Whether or not you are able to successfully prevent your dog from interfering with his/her privates whilst the razor burn is healing.

Generally speaking, I would expect most cases of razor burn to have cleared up completely within 1-2 weeks. Cases that are complicated by the presence of a skin infection, or where the dog is allowed to constantly lick and bother at the area, may take longer to heal up.

closeup photography of adult short coated tan and white dog sleeping on gray textile at daytime

How To Prevent Razor Burn On Your Dog’s Privates

The following are ways to prevent razor burns from developing on your dog’s privates;

  • Avoid clipping the fur on your dog’s private areas too close to the skin unless necessary, for example, on your vet’s advice as part of a treatment plan for a medical condition.
  • When clipping must be undertaken, use an appropriate blade size.
  • Choose an experienced, highly rated groomer, and explain to them in advance that your dog has previously suffered from razor burn (and that they may be sensitive around their privates as a result!)
  • Where clipping has been necessary, apply a pet-safe soothing product such as Avene thermal spring water spray to the area as soon as possible after clipping.
  • Avoid applying other human skin products or creams to the area without first checking with your pet’s vet; it could make matters worse.

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