Wet shaving is a wonderful tool that can help us keep an animal comfortable while removing matted hair, and can often allow us to save more hair for styling. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, I highly recommend checking out Debi Hilley’s exellent information on her website. One drawback to this technique, and the reason I’ve been told that it “can’t be done” in house call, is that is can be quite messy with all that wet hair. I’m here to tell you that it most certainly CAN be done, and without much of a mess. A while back I had a lovely regular dog that went through coat change and got quite matted. I wet shaved him and took photos of the process so that they could help illustrate how I perform this technique while not destroying my client’s home.
Unfortunately I didn’t remember to take before pictures, so I’ll start us off by telling you how I prepared Riley for his wet shave. First I bathed Riley well, making sure to get shampoo all the way down to his skin. If you are using this technique on a dog that is so matted you cannot reach the skin, you may need to re-bathe after you remove the pelt.
After bathing him, I towel dried him very well. This is the most important part of keeping things less messy. If a dog is sopping wet, the hair will stick to everything and be very difficult to clean up. When I wet shave I always get dogs dry to the point of being just a bit more than damp. In the first photo here I think you can see what I mean. For Riley, who has thin fine hair, a good toweling got him dry enough for me to begin. For dogs with more porous hair that holds on to moister, running the dryer over them for a minute or two may be necessary to get them to that slightly more than damp state.
Once Riley’s hair was the right amount of wet, I began shaving him with a blade the easily went under his mats. By having the hair not completely soaked, it doesn’t stick to the clipper, blade, or your fingers. If simply sticks together and falls into nice clumps, usually right on the table. (Click to enlarge photos)
After removing all of the matted hair, I towel dried Riley some more, put him in a confined area so he couldn’t run around the house wet, and cleaned up the wet hair. Without stopping to do this, you will blow all the removed hair around your client’s home and make a HUGE mess. Once I was finished cleaning up most of the hair (I don’t think it has to be perfect), I blow dried Riley, went back over him and finished his groom. As you can see from the pictures I was able to save quite a bit of hair. Once again I forgot to take a completely finished photo but you get a decent idea of what he looked like finished.
While this is an excellent tool, I do feel it should be used in moderation. I chose to wet shave Riley for a number of reasons but the most important had to do with his skin. As you can see he has a very light coat and extremely pink skin. He is very sensitive to products and sunburns easily. At the time it was midsummer and shaving Riley down as short I would have needed to without wet shaving would have left him highly exposed to the sun. If he hadn’t had these skin issues, and hadn’t been going through coat change (in other words if the owners weren’t simply neglectful of his coat), then I would not have wet shaved him. I feel it’s important for owners to understand what is a realistic style for their pet that they can maintain, and by wet shaving we are somewhat cheating to save hair; it doesn’t teach the clients anything. However you choose to use it though, it is a highly effective tool and something that can easily be done in house call.
Have you tried wet shaving in house call? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!
I hope you enjoyed, and until next time, happy house calling!