It’s not uncommon for dogs to act strangely after coming home from the groomer. One of the behaviors that people have the most questions about is why their dog keeps sitting down after grooming.
The four most common reasons why a dog will keep sitting down after grooming are:
- Clipper burn, which causes itchiness and pain
- Expression of the anal glands during the grooming session, which can cause pain and sensitivity
- Sensitivity or allergy to the shampoo used
- General discomfort
Is your dog sitting down a lot following a recent grooming appointment? We’ll discuss the four main reasons why your dog may be doing this, plus a few more potential grooming issues and what to do about it, in the sections below.
1. They Have Clipper Burn
Clipper burn causes itchiness and irritation and is especially common in sensitive areas like the face, belly, private parts, and rear end.
Common signs of clipper burn in dogs include scratching or licking the area, as well as rubbing it on the carpet (or “scooting” if the irritation is on the dog’s rear end). Clipper burn may look almost like a rash, or you may see red lines. It doesn’t always show up visually, though, so don’t rule it out if you don’t see anything.
Clipper burn can result from clipping a sensitive dog too close to the skin, in which case it’s not the groomer’s fault. Just let them know not to clip so close in the future.
If you suspect clipper burn on your dog, be sure to call the groomer immediately, so they can put a note in your dog’s chart, so they know not to clip so close next time. If you wait until the dog’s next appointment to mention it, they may not remember what clipper length they last used on the dog.
Although clipper burn is usually just a result of sensitive skin, blades that are too dull or too hot can also cause this condition, so if it happens repeatedly, you may want to consider trying another groomer.
The following can be useful in treating clipper burn and aiding the healing process:
- Store-bought pain/itch relievers formulated for dogs
- Witch hazel
- Aloe vera (Make sure to use aloe that doesn’t contain alcohol and is not unprocessed aloe directly from a plant. Aloe plants contain toxins that shouldn’t be used on dogs, but the manufacturing process removes them and makes the aloe dog-safe.)
- Vitamin E
- Elizabethan collar to prevent licking the affected area
Clipper burn is rarely serious and should clear up in a day or two. Keep an eye on it, though, and if your dog’s discomfort lasts or the area looks infected, call your vet.
2. The Anal Glands Are Sensitive After Expressing
It’s not the most fun subject to think about, but if your dog keeps sitting after grooming, his anal glands may be to blame.
All dogs have glands on either side of the anus, which are full of oil. The glands can be expressed by pressing on them, which will empty the oil. Many groomers do this as a regular part of the grooming appointment.
There is a lot of debate over whether it’s necessary to do this if the glands aren’t full, and whether it should be done by a dog owner or groomer, or left for a vet to handle. Talk to your vet and ask them what they think. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your groomer not to express the glands during the dog’s appointment, especially if it’s causing pain afterward.
If your dog is suffering because of pain or sensitivity after having his glands expressed, he may exhibit some of the following symptoms:
- Discomfort when walking, immediately sitting on the closest soft surface he can find
- Constantly looking back and nipping at the area
- Yelping if something touches the area
- Redness and swelling around the anus
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Scooting on carpet
If the pain doesn’t resolve itself within about a day, it’s a good idea to give your vet a call. While the area might just be sensitive, the groomer could have used incorrect procedures, or the glands may be infected.
Some owners find that a warm compress will help to relieve pain, but many dogs won’t tolerate it, so don’t force it. You might try providing a warm towel fresh out of the dryer for the dog to sit on, or an electric blanket turned on at its lowest setting.
3. They’re Reacting to the Shampoo
If your dog seems to be itchy in more than one spot, or in a large general area in addition to the rear end, he may be reacting to the shampoo used by the groomer. Dogs have sensitive skin, and if the shampoo used was too harsh or not rinsed out thoroughly, their skin can break out in a rash.
Allergies and sensitivity can crop up over time, even if the shampoo never caused a problem previously. If you suspect this is the case, ask your groomer if they have any shampoos for sensitive skin, or bring your own next time.
In the meantime, you can relieve the itching with an oatmeal bath or paste, some witch hazel applied to the area, or a bit of coconut oil. There are also, of course, plenty of store-bought anti-itch creams and sprays specially formulated for dogs.
If the discomfort doesn’t go away in a day or two, be sure to call your vet to make sure the issue isn’t more severe.
4. It Just Feels Weird
If you’ve ever grown your hair or beard super long and then shaved it off, you’re no stranger to the oddly noticeable sensation of air against your skin after a long time of being protected.
Well, dogs feel the same sensation after being shaved, and it can take them some time to get used to it. Especially when it comes to sensitive areas like the genitals and rear-end, an unexpected breeze can be a weird feeling, which may cause some dogs to sit to relieve the feeling.
This will take care of itself in a few days as the dog’s skin gets used to being exposed, and the dog gets used to the new sensations, but giving him a sweater to wear for the first few days may help him with the transition.
Other Potential Grooming Issues
Of course, there are a few other reasons why your dog may be sitting a lot or otherwise expressing odd behavior following a trip to the groomer:
Brush burn is caused when a dog is brushed too hard, or when the person brushing him uses too hard of a brush. (For this reason, metal slicker brushes should never be used on dogs with sensitive skin.)
Brush burn looks and acts a lot like clipper burn, and can be treated the same way. It’s most common on the dog’s back, where people are often less careful when brushing.
Brush burn that happens at a groomer often occurs during the blow drying process, especially for long-haired dogs as the groomer is brushing with one hand and drying with the other. If your dog regularly comes home from the groomer with brush burn, you might think about finding a different groomer.
Furunculosis is an infection of the hair follicle that can be caused by parasites, fungus, or bacteria. In the case of post grooming furunculosis, the infection is almost always caused by bacteria that have taken up residence in the shampoo the groomer is using.
The infection can cause swelling, lesions, and alopecia, as well as lethargy and fever. It usually occurs on the dog’s back and shows up within a week of returning from the groomer’s. If you suspect furunculosis, call your vet right away. They will likely prescribe antibiotics for your dog.
If your dog is behaving strangely or you notice skin issues, call both your groomer and vet right away.
The groomer will be able to help you pinpoint what caused the issue, as well as let you know if there was a skin issue before a haircut that you didn’t notice. This way, you’ll know if the issue is grooming-related, or potentially something more serious.
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