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Dog Skin Infection After Grooming

Dog Skin Infection

It may seem quite ironic for a dog skin infection after grooming to arise when grooming is expected to help improve the condition of a dog's coat and skin in the first place. Yet, it's not unusual at all for some dogs to develop skin infections after being groomed and these infections may present for various causes. Being aware of some of the underlying causes for these infections is important, so to prevent future re-occurrences. Following is some information on the onset of a dog skin infection after grooming.

Dog skin infection after grooming

Razor Burns in Dogs 

If your dog was recently shaved, there may be chances that the cause of the dog skin infection after grooming might be due to the presence of razor burns. It is not uncommon for dogs to get some clipper burn after having the coat groomed.

The most common symptoms of clipper burn in dogs include itching, redness of skin and discomfort. Because clipper burns are cuts on the skin, there are always chances for a bacterial infection to set in. The chances are higher, when the groomer shaves the dog's hair all the way down to the bare skin.

Even a small, barely noticeable nick on the dog's the skin has the potential for developing into a bacterial infection. This is because these small cuts are capable of allowing bacteria to enter into the skin.

While one may assume the groomer to be at 100 percent fault here, one must also consider that it's is difficult at times completely avoiding these cuts, considering that when clippers are used to shave down to the dog's bare, delicate skin, it's quite easy to nick it in the process. A honest groomer though would be expected to notify the owner, apologize for the mishap, and possibly, offer to pay any vet bills if needed.

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Reaction to Shampoo

If you have groomed and bathed your dog yourself, consider that incorrect bathing methods can predispose your dog to a skin infection after grooming.

For example, consider that it can be challenging at times to remove all of the shampoo from a dog's coat. It could be that your dog is not very collaborative (see grooming difficult dogs), or it could just simply be that you have missed a few spots. In any case, any shampoo residue left on a dog's coat can cause the dog intense itching. With the intense itching, it is quite easy for the dog to cause scratches in the skin which may predispose the dog to then develop a bacterial skin infection.

On top of this, consider that leaving your dog's skin wet or humid for some time may also predispose him to a skin infection. It's important to make sure that the coat is rinsed out of all shampoo residue and that it's thoroughly dried quickly. Areas prone to remain humid are the inside of the ears, under the collar (unless the collar is removed) armpit and inguinal areas and under the tail. Areas with lots of fur are at risk too such as the rump area and neck.

"Besides not rinsing soap out completely, failing to dry pets is the bathing error most likely to cause skin and coat trouble. Unless you are in a very arid climate, moisture left in the coat and on the skin can create a perfect breeding ground for fungal, bacterial or yeast problems."~Carol Visser, certified master dog groomer. 

Post-Grooming Furuncolosis in Dogs

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The medical term for this condition is post-grooming bacterial furunculosis or folliculitis. It literally means the onset of an infection of the hair follicles following after a dog is groomed or even bathed . The occurrence of this condition though is uncommon, but it may be just because it's unreported. This condition seems to affect more dogs with short, stiff coats.

Affected dogs develop a quick onset of painful areas on the skin that happens shortly after grooming (generally within 24 to 48 hours). Owners notice presence of pustules particularly in the neck and back area. Hair loss from the affected follicles may occur. Some dogs also become lethargic, anorexic and develop a fever. Death is rare, but has actually happened, according to a study. 

How do dogs get this condition? What happens is that when a dog is shaved down or bathed/brushed against the hair coat, the hair follicles will be exposed which makes them more likely to become contaminated with opportunistic bacteria such as pseudomonas or staphylococcus.

Generally, staph is in 90 percent of cases the main culprit of the infection, while pseudomonas is usually just found as a secondary invader, explains veterinarian Dr. Christine M. 

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According to the book "Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat: Clinical and Histopathologic Diagnosis" such bacteria can be found in self-grooming facilities or grooming facilities where large communal containers of concentrated dog shampoo diluted with tap water are used.

This condition can be avoided by taking several precautions such as sterilizing communal containers and other grooming equipment daily, avoiding giving a shampoo to dogs at least for 2 weeks after hand stripping the coat (or any traumatic types of brushing), and diluting shampoo for daily use only .

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Dog Skin Infection After Grooming: What Happens at the Vet

If you are dealing with a dog skin infection after grooming your dog, the vet will likely ask several questions about your dog's history. The vet will examine your dog and visually inspect the skin. Testing generally includes skin biopsies with bacterial culture so to identify the exact bacteria causing the skin infection. Other tests may be done to rule out other possible underlying or concomitant skin problems.

Treatment involves in general the topical use of an antifungal or antibacterial shampoo, but sometimes an antifungal or an antibiotic that is capable of killing gram-negative bacteria must be given orally.

According to the book, Clinical Dermatology, An Issue of Veterinary Clinics, a common antibiotic prescribed while waiting for the culture results, is fluoroquinolone. Other choices include ciprofloxacin, and for severe cases, intravenous antibiotic therapy.


  • Clinical Dermatology, An Issue of Veterinary Clinics: By Daniel O. Morris, Robert A. Kennis
  • Pipe-Martin HN, Peterson TA, Langohr ML, et al. Sepsis and multi-organ dysfunction associated with post grooming furunculosis in a dog. Vet Dermatol. 2016;27(3):198-e49.

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