Grooming and Hygiene

Safe Around-the-Eyes Grooming: Tips for Long-Haired Dogs

Grant Emerson

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The Significance of Eye Area Grooming for Long-Haired Dogs

Grooming a dog with long hair around the eyes is essential for keeping them comfortable and healthy. Unkempt hair around a dog’s eyes can cause irritation, infections, and even vision issues. Long-haired dog breeds like Shih Tzus, Maltese, and Poodles are especially prone to these problems. Regular grooming not only enhances the appearance of your pet but also prevents potential health issues.

Understanding the Risks of Neglected Eye Hair

Leaving hair untrimmed around your dog’s eyes can lead to several problems. Here are some risks associated with neglected eye hair:

  • **Eye Irritation**: Unkempt hair can rub against the eyes, causing irritation, redness, or tearing.
  • **Infections**: Dirt and bacteria can get trapped, leading to eye infections.
  • **Vision Obstruction**: Hair that grows over the eyes can impair a dog’s vision and make them feel insecure or uneasy.
  • **Discomfort**: Long hair can poke into the eyes, causing constant discomfort to your furry friend.

Tools You’ll Need for Safe Grooming

Having the right grooming tools at hand is vital for ensuring that the grooming process goes smoothly and safely. Here is a list of essential grooming tools:

  • **Blunt-Tipped Scissors**: Ensure they are specifically designed for pet grooming to minimize the risk of injury.
  • **Grooming Comb**: A fine-tooth comb helps you untangle any mats or knots around the eyes.
  • **Pet Clippers**: For a more even trim, especially if your dog is used to the sound and sensation.
  • **Eye Wipes or Pads**: To clean the area around the eyes before and after grooming.
  • **Treats**: To reward your dog for being cooperative and to make the grooming process more enjoyable for them.

Steps for Grooming Around the Eyes

Ensuring the safety and comfort of your dog during grooming requires a step-by-step approach. Here’s a detailed guide:

1. Prepare Your Grooming Area

Create a calm and quiet environment to help your dog relax. Use a comfortable table or a countertop, placing a non-slip mat for better footing. Ensuring your pet feels secure will make the process easier for both of you.

2. Examine the Eye Area

Check the area around your dog’s eyes for any signs of irritation, redness, or infection. If you notice anything unusual, it is best to consult your vet before proceeding.

3. Clean the Eye Area

Use pet-safe eye wipes or pads to gently clean around your dog’s eyes. This step helps to remove any discharge or dirt, making it easier to see and trim the hair.

4. Comb the Hair

Carefully comb the hair around the eyes to remove any tangles or mats. A fine-tooth grooming comb works best for this task. Be gentle to avoid pulling the hair, which can cause discomfort.

5. Trim Using Blunt-Tipped Scissors

Hold your dog’s head securely but gently. Using blunt-tipped scissors, start trimming the hair around the eyes. Trim small sections at a time and be sure to keep the scissors pointed away from the eyes to avoid accidents.

6. Use Clippers for a More Even Trim

If your dog tolerates clippers, you can use them for a more uniform trim. Make sure to use the appropriate guard to prevent cutting too close to the skin. Always start with the lowest setting and gradually increase if needed.

7. Check Your Progress Frequently

Pause frequently to check your progress and make sure you aren’t cutting too much hair. This also gives your dog a short break, reducing stress and making the grooming session more comfortable.

8. Reward Your Dog

Once you’ve finished grooming, remember to reward your dog with treats and positive reinforcement. This helps create a positive association with the grooming process, making future sessions easier.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Calm During Grooming

Grooming can be a stressful experience for dogs, especially when it involves sensitive areas like the eyes. Here are a few tips to keep your dog calm:

  • **Start Early**: Get your puppy used to grooming from a young age to make them more comfortable with the process.
  • **Short Sessions**: Keep grooming sessions short and gradually increase the time as your dog gets more accustomed to it.
  • **Positive Reinforcement**: Use treats and praise to reward your dog for staying calm and cooperative.
  • **Take Breaks**: If your dog becomes restless or anxious, take short breaks to let them relax before continuing.
  • **Stay Calm**: Maintain a calm demeanor, as dogs can sense your emotions; being calm and patient will help soothe them.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While grooming around the eyes, it is easy to make mistakes that can cause discomfort or harm to your dog. Here are common mistakes to avoid:

  • **Using Sharp Scissors**: Always use blunt-tipped scissors designed for pet grooming to reduce the risk of injury.
  • **Cutting Too Much Hair**: Trim small sections at a time to avoid cutting too much hair and causing discomfort.
  • **Ignoring Signs of Stress**: Pay attention to your dog’s body language; if they seem stressed or anxious, take a break or stop the session.
  • **Skipping Clean-Up**: Always clean the area around the eyes before and after grooming to remove any hair clippings or debris.
  • **Not Checking for Infections**: Regularly check for signs of irritation or infection and consult your vet if you notice anything unusual.

When to Seek Professional Help

Grooming around the eyes can be challenging, especially for inexperienced pet owners. There are situations when seeking the help of a professional groomer or veterinarian is the best option:

1. Persistent Eye Issues

If your dog has recurring eye issues like infections, excessive tearing, or irritation, consult your vet to rule out any underlying health problems.

2. Overly Anxious Dogs

If your dog becomes extremely anxious or aggressive during grooming, it may be best to let a professional handle it. Professional groomers have the experience and equipment to manage anxious dogs safely.

3. Severe Matting

Severe matting around the eyes can be painful and difficult to remove without causing discomfort. A professional groomer can safely remove mats without risking injury to your pet.

Maintaining Your Dog’s Eye Health

Regular grooming is just one part of maintaining your dog’s eye health. Here are additional tips to keep your dog’s eyes healthy:

  • **Regular Vet Check-Ups**: Schedule regular vet visits to keep track of your dog’s overall health, including their eyes.
  • **Balanced Diet**: A nutritious diet supports eye health and overall well-being.
  • **Eye Wipes**: Use pet-safe eye wipes regularly to clean around the eyes and prevent build-up of dirt and discharge.
  • **Monitor for Symptoms**: Watch for signs of eye problems, such as redness, swelling, discharge, or rubbing, and consult your vet if any symptoms appear.
  • **Protective Gear**: In environments where debris and dirt are present, consider using protective goggles designed for dogs.

Special Tips for Different Long-Haired Breeds

Each dog breed has its unique grooming needs. Here are tips for grooming the eye areas of some popular long-haired dog breeds:

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus have hair that grows continuously, including around the eyes. Frequent grooming is essential to prevent hair from poking into their eyes. Consider trimming the hair every few days and using hair ties or clips to keep longer hair out of their eyes.


Maltese dogs have silky hair that can easily obstruct their vision if not maintained. Regular trimming is necessary. Be gentle when combing their hair to avoid breakage, and use pet-safe eye wipes to keep the area clean.


Poodles have curly hair that can trap dirt and debris around the eyes. Frequent brushing and trimming help keep the area clean. Since their hair grows fast, a professional groomer may be needed for more complicated cuts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How Often Should I Trim the Hair Around My Dog’s Eyes?

It varies based on the breed and hair growth rate but, generally, trimming every 1-2 weeks keeps the area clean and prevents any discomfort to your dog.

2. Can I Use Human Scissors for Grooming?

It is not recommended

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