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A close shave? Caring for your dog’s skin and coat during lockdown

05/23/2020 06:00AM | 4205 views

By Joanna Gale

Social media is full of posts describing people’s attempts to cut the hair of their partners or children. It’s at times like these that I’m very grateful for a head of unruly curls that are very forgiving of missing a few trims. My daughters both have fairly long, uncomplicated hair which I can avoid trimming too. As for my husband, so far he’s managing without a haircut, but give it a couple more weeks and we’ll see!

I also feel quite smug about having two Labradors in the family. With their smooth coats they have no special grooming requirements apart from light brushing and the occasional bath, but if you own a dog with a long, thick or curly coat, you probably usually take them to a professional dog groomer for bathing, clipping or trimming. During the COVID-19 restrictions, dog groomers in most countries are closed. This has led to some desperate attempts at DIY doggy haircuts, with results ranging from passable to hilarious and downright disastrous! Over half of respondents in our recent Twitter and Instagram poll said they’d attempted to trim their pet’s coat during the COVID-19 lockdown – that’s a lot of home hairdressing!

If your dog is missing out on trips to the grooming salon, there are things you can do to tide them over, and things you should definitely avoid.


  • Depending on your dog’s coat type, a thorough brush can often be as good as a bath (for dogs with tight, curly coats this one won’t go down so well). If your dog isn’t used to being brushed, take it slowly. Brush a little at a time and reward your dog for standing calmly. Stop if he starts to get distressed and do a little more each day
  • If you do need to bath your dog, use a mild dog shampoo and rinse thoroughly. On a hot day your pooch can dry off outside but you may need to towel them to get them started, especially with long haired breeds
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s skin. This can be challenging if your dog has a very thick coat, so part the hair in several places to check for any redness, scurf, scabs or crusting. If you see any of these, call your vet for advice
  • Keep up with regular parasite control. Fleas and ticks can cause skin irritation, so ask your vet for advice on which anti-parasitic products to use and how often
  • If you do decide to trim your dog’s coat, please use clippers not scissors. It is unbelievably easy to cut your pet’s skin with scissors while trimming the fur, and that could mean pain for your pup and a trip to the vets. When choosing clippers, pet versions are usually smaller and quieter than those for humans, and have blades designed for fluffier hair
  • Specialist techniques such as coat stripping and ear plucking are best left to the professionals once the grooming salons re-open. Instead, try to embrace your pet’s new - fluffier - look for the next few weeks or months!
  • If your pet usually has their nails trimmed at the grooming parlour, you will need to regularly check that they are not getting too long and digging into the pads. If the nails aren’t near to digging in the pads, you can leave them even if they’re a little longer than usual. If you do need to trim them and you’ve never done it before, check out some of the great instructional videos online. If your pet has white nails you should be able to see the bundle of blood vessels and nerves within the nail (known as the “quick”) and trim below to avoid pain or bleeding, but with dark or black nails, this isn’t visible. Trim a little at a time and watch your pet closely for signs of discomfort. It’s better to leave the nails a little longer rather than risk trimming too short and causing pain 

I wish you luck with your efforts and don’t forget to take photos. One day, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, you’ll have photographic evidence of the unexpected things you got up to during lockdown!



This article was originally posted on 

Joanna Gale is Global Scientific Advocacy and Stakeholder Relations Manager at Mars Petcare

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