Pet Grooming: Should I shave my dog if it has skin problems?

If your dog ever suffered from skin problems, you’d realize that sometimes it takes forever to cure. Even vets need to do some trial and error, and neither do they have any magic bullet that’ll stop the problem from resurfacing months later. This is because, as mentioned in my earlier post on chronic skin problems, skin problems can be caused by anything. As a result, not only is it torturing to the poor animals going through all that itch, it’s heartbreaking for us to see them this way and frustrating trying to find out the cause.

What seems right might not necessarily be

In our quest for a solution, we are often made to believe that shaving down the dog for the easy application of creams and observing the condition was a good idea. Although it may sound logical and a practice widely propagated by vets and groomers, just imagine for a moment you had a rash somewhere, and you ran a clipper across it. It’s the same as how scratching makes a rash worse or how shaving usually irritates our skin; clipping usually irritates the skin and if you were to shave the whole dog down, imagine the itch from their nose all the way to their tail!


And what would they do when they have that insatiable need to kill off that itch? They scratch, chew, and lick on the itch until the skin becomes red, raw, and wounded, But still, it itches, and scratching and chewing are the only ways they know how. So the vicious cycle continues until the point of self-mutilation, and we have no choice but to don the Elizabethan collar, also infamously known as the cone of shame on them.

Don’t cause unnecessary problems for yourself.

Even for dogs with perfectly normal skin, shaving too close sometimes causes redness and irritation, especially on sensitive areas like paws, throat, groin, anal region, and under the belly.

That’s why I don’t recommend customers to have their pets’ feet shaven bald for whatever reasons, be it because their pets lick their paws or because of the discolored paws from the licking. Usually, shaving only makes matters worse, and it’s more important to find the cause of the behavior rather than aggravate the problem.

If you really have to

However, if you insist that clipping is to be done, please instruct the groomer to leave at least a centimeter of their coat. During the grooming process, the shorter the cut, the smaller the blade would be used – the problem with that is the edge of the blade in contact with your pets’ skin would be sharper and heats up faster, two of the most common irritant during pet grooming.

Besides, the coat acts as a protective layer, and it’ll buffer the skin against any external irritants they’re being exposed to daily (e.g., chemicals, materials, heat, etc., which they’re allergic to). Furthermore, the coat also cushions the skin when the dog chews on or scratches itself. 


And since most vets prescribe shampoos instead of topical creams, the medication would have no problem working down to the skin.

Have questions on pet grooming? Write them down in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to answer them!


  1. Krisbelle Anand says

    I really liked the articles about the toxic food, shaving your dog to solve skin problems and tick problems. Very informative and helpful. Thanks for putting them up.

  2. Martin says

    Hi Sunny Lim, this information helps me a lot to get rid of this skin problem and I have been very thankful to you for providing this solution. Keep updating thankyou.

  3. Kimberley says

    I would like to know what I could do for my like princesses he a little chawahwa and she chewing on her paws because they itch actually her hole body I don’t know what to do

    • Sunny Lim says

      Usually when it’s only the paws that they are chewing on, it’s usually a sign of anxiety. So either they get a lot of physical exercise, especially outdoor play. Secondly, we also need to have our anxiety levels in check as well as our own emotions will affect our surroundings.

  4. Phil Deering says

    I have a 13 y/o German shepherd. He developed a very bad skin disorder when he was about 8. At first I tried the ordinary vet. They gave me soaps and steroids and antibiotics. After a couple years of failed treatment I found an animal dermatologist. This led to higher bills more soaps, steroids, antibiotics, and cyclosporine. I am paying about 240$ a month in prescriptions that I pick up from cvs. He is still getting worse. He skin and hair are falling off and if you touch him it makes him itch. I am considering shaving as a final option. Please advise!

    • Sunny Lim says

      Old dogs sometimes develop very bad reactions very suddenly when they get old. Sometimes it’s because of a failing immune system or the immune system attacking the body. Maybe you can try steps to calm the immune system. One thing you can do is to go to your local butcher and get meat, bone and organ scraps, get them to mince it up together for you and feed it to your dog as a complete diet. Fresh raw meals have the lowest impact on the digestive system and best absorbed by them.

  5. Dewey Mitchell says

    I owe a German Shepard pup is is only 1 year 3 months old . After adoption he had no signs of itching until like about a month after owning him he started scratching every where. I took him to vet and he did prednisone sydapoint apaquel and shampooing 2 a week He chews even his feet . Help

    • Sunny Lim says

      Let’s just assume that it’s a change of the environment that may be causing it. But it can be anything and the itching can be a result of psychological or physical problems. If your pup has been adopted from a shelter remember that he’d have a lot of other dogs around. Probably see what it’s lacking or uncomfortable with. Is it physical activity? Probably it’s not used to the lawn which he may have no access to in the shelter? Or should you change back to the kibbles he was given in the shelter?

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