Aqueos - How to manage dog grooming injuries – and prevent them too!
Dog grooming injuries can be painful for your dog and stressful for you both. Regular grooming is essential to maintain good hygiene and health in most dogs, especially long-haired breeds. Whether you're a professional dog groomer or a pet parent who grooms their own dog, you set out with the best intentions, but accidents can happen.
Which dog grooming injuries are common?
Here's a list of some of the more common injuries caused by dog grooming and what to do if they happen:
1. Bleeding nails
Anyone who has tried to clip a dog's nails knows it can be tricky. Avoiding the quick (where the blood supply is) isn't easy when your wriggly dog is a moving target. And it's even worse if they have dark, pigmented nails that prevent you from visualising the quick yourself.
If you accidentally cause your dog's nail to bleed, the most important thing to do is stop the bleeding. There are a few types of haemostatic agents (that stop bleeding), including ferric chloride solution and silver nitrate pens. However, these can sting and cause staining of the handler's skin and other surfaces. Our Blood Stop powder forms a gel when in contact with blood, creating a physical barrier to help stem the bleeding.
If the bleeding is significant and isn't stopping despite your efforts, contact the vet for help. Even if the bleeding stops, you may still want the vet to take a look, especially if the dog is limping or showing other signs of pain. You should ensure they don't lick at the nail or contaminate it with mud or dirt. If they start to limp or seem painful, or if the area around the nail looks swollen or red, get help from a vet immediately.
2. Bleeding lumps
Some dogs develop skin lumps like warts and skin tags with age. These can get caught easily during grooming with clippers or scissors, as they are often covered by fur and not very visible. If they do become damaged by grooming equipment, they tend to bleed a lot.
As with bleeding nails, the first thing is to stop the bleeding. You can apply pressure with a clean cloth or tea towel for five minutes, by which time the bleeding will often have stopped. However, if the bleeding is persistent, you can apply our haemostatic powder to stem the bleeding without causing pain or stains. Once the bleeding has stopped, it's best to leave the area alone rather than clean it immediately. After all, you might dislodge the clot and start the bleeding again. However, you'll need to keep the area clean until it's healed, and salt water or an anti-bacterial spray can be used for this. If your dog seems painful and is bothered by the lump, or if the damage to the lump is more than a superficial scrape, it's best to get them checked by a vet. During the healing process, a dressing or pet-safe spray-on plaster can help to protect the area from germs.
3. Skin cuts
Unfortunately, skin cuts from grooming equipment can happen. You can minimise the risk by ensuring the dog is safely restrained and keeping scissors parallel to your dog's body rather than pointing the blades towards them.
If you accidentally cause a dog grooming injury by cutting the skin, contact the vet as soon as possible. These wounds can be dealt with more quickly if they are clean and fresh, and sometimes surgical staples can be used, reducing the need for an anaesthetic. Because the wound will usually need to be stitched or closed with staples, it's best not to apply anything to the wound that could interfere with the healing. If you can get the dog to the vet right away and the wound is relatively clean, there's no need to apply anything to it - the vet will be able to do that if needed. If the wound is already dirty or has lots of hair in it, or if there is going to be a delay in getting veterinary treatment, using salt water to clean the area won't interfere with the vet's treatment.
How can I prevent dog grooming injuries?
Before attempting to groom your own dog, make sure you know what you're doing. Ask a family member or friend to restrain your dog to keep them as still as possible. Ensure you have all the necessary equipment and check that it is in working order.
First-aid for dogs
Having some basic pet first-aid supplies nearby is a great idea if you intend to groom your dog, and it’s essential if you’re a professional dog groomer. If dog grooming is something you intend to do regularly, either on your own dog or for work, why not consider doing a dog first-aid course? This will help prepare you for any potential injuries and ensure that you act calmly and efficiently if an accident does occur.
Grooming is an essential part of pet ownership for many dog breeds. However, whether you're a pet parent or a professional, dog grooming injuries sometimes happen. Checking equipment, ensuring you have help when needed, and getting clued up on grooming techniques will help to reduce the risk of injury.
This article was written by Dr Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS.