Ingrown Hair on Dog: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

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If you've ever noticed an ingrown hair on your dog, you're not alone. Ingrown hairs are a common problem for both humans and animals.

In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of ingrown hairs on dogs, the treatment options available, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.


What is an ingrown hair


If you googled for ingrown hair on a dog, you most probably already know what it is. Feel free to skip this part!

For those who aren't too sure...


An ingrown hair is a strand of hair that has grown into the skin.

It can be painful and cause inflammation, itching, and redness.


Sometimes it's caused by too much pressure when shaving or plucking out unwanted hairs from your pet's body; other times there may not be any obvious reason at all.

However, there are certain areas of a dog's body that has a higher chance to grow, due to shaving or otherwise natural reasons.


Not only do dogs get it, but people do too - especially those who have curly hair (because the growing hair can curl back to the skin and pierce it).

As well those who consistently shave their hair (for example in men. Usually it's caused by shaving the beard and then leaving it to grow out again.

This can lead to an ingrown hair on the face, especially if it's left unkempt.


What causes ingrown hair on a dog to grow


An ingrown hair on a dog can be caused by a number of different factors.

The most common one is improper grooming or poor nutrition, which can lead to dry skin and inflammation that leads to ingrown hairs.

It's also possible for an ingrown hair follicle to become infected with bacteria from your pet's mouth or paws when they lick themselves excessively.


An indirect cause could be allergies such as food allergies, seasonal pollen allergies.

These can cause your dog to itch, leading up more frequent licking and thus increasing chances for causing ingrown hairs.


As a side note, it's fairly easy to identify ingrown hairs on short-haired dogs, but finding them on long-haired dogs can pose a challenge.


What does an ingrown hair on a dog look like


Ingrown hairs on your dog can appear like bumps or pustules on your dog's skin.

They're also usually red or inflamed, can be very itchy for your dog.

You'll also notice that your will be scratching, licking or chewing the area more to try to get relief from the discomfort.

Typically, leaving the ingrown hair unremoved for a time can also lead to other skin infections, such as folliculitis in dogs.


Common areas to find ingrown hair on dogs


Ingrown hairs can happen on any part of your dog, but there are a few hotspots that are worth mentioning:


Bellies

Usually, you can find an ingrown hair on a dog belly, or multiple.

The reason is pretty simple - when they go to the vet for checkups or a spaying operation, they typically need to be shaved close to their genitals.

When it grows back, the fur tends to not grow properly, or embeds itself on your dog's belly, becoming ingrown and sometimes, inflamed.

It can also happen after pet grooming if you requested for your groomer to shave your dog's belly.


Armpits


Shaving this area can also lead to a higher chance of developing an ingrown hair follicle.

As with our statement above, dogs with curly hair tend to get this issue if their arm(or leg)pits are shaved often.


Between toes


Dogs who spend a lot of time swimming or playing in sand often get ingrown hair between their toes.

This is because the moist environment and constant rubbing against surfaces can cause the hair to grow sideways into the skin.

Again, shaving this area can make it worse - especially if you request this from your groomer.



In any case, it would be great to consider your dog breed, as well as their coat type before shaving certain parts of their body.

Speak to your vet on this topic - they may have some excellent information to give you on this.


How do you treat an ingrown hair on a dog


If your dog has an ingrown hair, there are several things you can do to help them heal.

First off - don't worry! They will likely not even notice it unless they lick at their skin too much and irritate the affected area further.


At home treatment of a dog's ingrown hair


NOTE: Treating your dog at home should only be done IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

If not, please go to a vet - they can help with this process, and teach you how you can do it at home as well.

The vet will also generally recommend the tools and items needed.


You can start by gently cleaning the area with a some salt mixed with warm water.

The warm salt water will help loosen the skin, making it a little easier for the ingrown hair to come out.

If you really think that you can remove it with tweezers, do so - but very carefully. Dogs don't react as well to us humans, and they may instinctively bite back at you due to the sudden pain.

Also remember that whenever you're using a tweezer, you'll be breaking skin, and that can lead to infections.



If it's an infected ingrown hair, you may need to use an antibacterial ointment as well.

Apply this twice a day until the infection clears up.

In cases where the dog has excessive scratching or chewing at the area, you may need to put on a cone collar to prevent further damage.


Lastly, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids - just like when they're sick!

This will help their body heal properly from whatever is causing them discomfort.


Treatment at the vet's clinic


If you don't see much of an improvement or the follicle is infected (you'll know from the pus), please bring your dog to the vet and have your dog diagnosed - it may be a sign of something more serious.


What are the risks associated with ingrown hairs on dogs


The risks associated with ingrown hairs on dogs are mostly cosmetic, but can also be a sign of a more serious underlying health problem.

If your dog's ingrown hair becomes infected, it can lead to a number of other problems such as skin rashes, sores or abscesses, and even folliculitis.

All of these conditions require veterinary treatment, so if you think your pet may have an ingrown hair, please take them to the vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.


How can you prevent ingrown hairs on dogs from occurring in the future


The easiest way to prevent ingrown hairs in dogs is to make sure that your dog is well groomed.


If you use clippers, do not cut too close to the skin or shave them without giving their hair enough time between cuts so they can grow out completely before trimming again.

This way, there will be less chance of any ingrown hairs forming after trimming sessions when shaving too often prematurely.

Groomers should only use equipment marked "for dogs" and never on humans because human shavers are not made specifically for our furry friends' needs!


If you have a short-haired dog, consider using a grooming glove or brush to keep their hair free of mats and tangles, as these can also lead to ingrown hairs.

And finally, try to avoid shaving your dog altogether unless it is absolutely necessary - like for an operation or if they are badly matted.


Conclusion

Ultimately, what we're saying is - at some point in your dog's life, your dog will most probably get a couple of ingrown hairs, even if the dog was never shaved.

And that's alright!

Remember that they can be caused by quite a few things too - allergies, infections or even their genetics (as is the case with curly haired dogs)

What's important is to know how to treat these ingrown hairs and prevent them from being infected, making it more dangerous for your dog.

Just make sure that if you're using the tweezers to remove it, you already prepared that area - warm salt water and anti-bacterial wipes or spray for your dog.

Make sure that the dog is also in a calm state before proceeding!


If all else fails, bring your dog to the vet - they will know how best to approach the problem and offer their advice and any medications or procedures.




about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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