Why Does My Dog Act Strange After Grooming?

Some dogs act strange after grooming because things feel and smell different. Dogs spend time “collecting” scents. After grooming, all those scents are gone. If they got a haircut, it might take a few days to adjust to the lighter feeling. 

If you have ever taken your dog to the groomer, odds are that they were acting a little “off” once you got them back home. This behavior can appear concerning to anyone who has not used a groomer before, but it is very common.

Dogs can feel a lot of anxiety when they are dropped off at the groomer’s for a trim; if it is their first time, they do not know where they are, why they are there, or where their parents went.

These feelings can remain even after you have returned home with them, causing some behavior that may be slightly alarming.

This is often through no fault of the groomer; some dogs just have higher anxiety levels than others. Read on to learn more about appropriate reactions and abnormal behaviors that dogs exhibit after visiting the groomers.

What Are Typical Reactions After Visiting the Groomers?

While all pups react somewhat differently after visiting the groomers, certain behaviors are expected. They do not warrant an emergency visit to the vet.

It is normal for Fido to act a little silly or odd after visiting the groomer, especially if they go infrequently and are unfamiliar with the tools and groomer.

After getting a fresh cut, many dogs run around, seeming to enjoy a lighter feeling after losing who knows how much fur. On the other hand, other dogs can act traumatized, hiding from their owners and acting standoffish for the rest of the day.

If your dog’s fur was severely matted, your dog will likely be noticeably itchy for the following couple of days. This is because the tension on the dog’s skin was released after the matted fur was removed, resulting in the itchier than usual sensation.

As a dog owner, you never really know how your pup will react to the groomer, but as Fido becomes familiar with the process and people involved, you will learn what constitutes their normal “after grooming session” behavior.

What Abnormal Behaviors Are Alarming After Visiting the Groomers?

The more consistently you take your dog to the groomers, the more familiar you become with how your dog typically reacts.

However, there is still a margin for error with grooming. Depending on the integrity and honesty of your groomer, you may not always be notified of any mishaps.

In this case, paying attention to your dog’s behavior and mannerisms after grooming can give you insight into any issues you were not explicitly told about. If Fido acts sleepier than usual, aggressive, or visually in pain, then you might have a reason for concern.

Extreme Lethargy

While your dog making a beeline for their favorite napping spot is not unusual after a grooming session, drowsiness while picking up your pooch from the groomer’s is.

One reason your dog was tired when being picked up is that they were potentially sedated by the groomer. In many areas, sedation of animals for grooming is illegal; the practice should never be done without the approval of a veterinarian and your explicit permission.

Unfortunately, there have been cases where dogs have reacted to sedatives or been overdosed by their groomers, causing death.

If your dog displays sleepiness like this when you pick them up from the groomer and you suspect that sedation may have occurred, you can take your pooch to the vet to conduct a screening.

A second reason your puppy could be exhausted after their grooming session could be due to having their body temperature too high for too long.

Some groomers use heat to expedite the drying process, but these can be dangerous. If the dog is in the heat too long, they risk becoming overheated.

You can offer your pup a bowl of water to rehydrate if you suspect overheating may be the cause of their sleepiness; if this does not work, consider consulting your veterinarian.

Increased Aggression

If your dog is suddenly displaying abnormal signs of aggression towards you, other animals, or family members, it might be a sign that the dog was mishandled by the groomer or potentially injured.

Your dog is trying to protect itself while hurting the best way it knows how–and that means even from you and loved ones.

Minor nicks can be difficult to spot, leaving you questioning the sudden shift in Fido’s temperament.

Common reasons include being nicked by the clippers or being burned from a device overheating.

Female dogs who previously bore puppies are more apt to receive cuts on their nipples since they project slightly from the body.

Dogs can be burned by hot clippers that were not properly lubricated and maintained at a reasonable temperature, resulting in a rash.

If you notice a clipper burn on your dog, you should immediately contact your veterinarian.

Observable Pain

Sometimes, you can just tell when your dog is uncomfortable. In some instances, there are telltale signs of physical discomfort that can help you pinpoint the underlying issue.

A list of common issues that can pop up after a session with your groomer includes:

Shaking Their Head Excessively

If your dog appears to have a pain in its ear or is shaking its head excessively, there is the possibility that water entered its ear canal during bathing.

This is, unfortunately, an accident that could happen to you or the groomer, depending on how rambunctious your dog is at bath time. Water in the ear canal can lead to infections and is very uncomfortable.

Cut the Quick

If your dog favors a paw or is limping after visiting the groomer, their nails might have been injured during the session. If their nails were cut too short and the groomer hit the quick, your dog likely bled.

Groomers typically keep solutions on hand to staunch the bleeding, but it is natural for your dog to favor the paw while it heals.

The groomer should notify you if any injury occurs while your dog is with them, even for something as minor as a nail cut being too short.

Intense Itch

Just as there are different levels of discomfort, there are different levels of itchiness. As discussed earlier, it is not uncommon for previously matted dogs to scratch at the shaved areas. However, there is the possibility of fleas catching a ride on Fido back to your house or your dog being sensitive to any scents or perfumes used on them.

Is Your Dog’s Behavior Anxiety-Induced or Cause for Concern?

Assuming that nothing traumatic occurred at the groomer’s, there is still the possibility for your dog to be acting strangely after a trim.

As a dog parent, you should be aware of what is normal and abnormal behavior for your dog. You should also be able to quickly determine if your dog is in pain and needs help. If you suspect that something deeper is at play, contact your vet for their professional opinion.

You can help your dog cope with high levels of anxiety surrounding a trip to the groomer’s salon by surrounding the appointment with positive experiences. Intentionally spend more time with your dog that day by taking them for a long walk in the morning, giving them a special breakfast or lunch, or letting them pick out a new toy at the pet store.

While the initial shock of going to the groomers can be a lot for dogs who have never been before, they do not have to be traumatized afterward. Simply care for them as you would a child or yourself after a highly stressful event, and you will be on your way to having a dog who does not quake in fear at the drop of the word “groomer.”

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