What is a sanitary trim?
A sanitary trim (or sanitary clip) refers to trimming or shaving the coat so it's shorter in the areas that often become dirty when toileting. The most common areas are around the bottom, genitals and abdomen. This helps keeps your dog or cat clean without having to clip the entire coat, and avoids urine or feces clinging to the coat, avoiding unpleasant odours, staining and reducing the risk of infection. Clipping the abdomen also helps avoid longer hair from touching carpet, bedding or furniture, avoiding smells and stains around the house.
How to do a sanitary trim
A sanitary trim can be done using the same full size clipper used for the rest of the coat, usually using a size 10 blade, or using a midi or 5in1 trimmer. A trimmer is smaller and lighter than a clipper, with a smaller width blade. Trimmers are a popular choice for getting into more delicate, difficult or injury-prone areas, and for pets who are more touch-sensitive or noise-sensitive. Trimmers are also used for trimming ears and faces, especially around the eyes and mouth, for tidying up feet and trimming between paw pads.
Watch the video below to see how a sanitary clip is done:
In this video, Andis Educator Shannon Tupes can be seen using the Andis Vida 5 in 1 Trimmer to perform a sanitary trim on a male Bichon Frise.
When is a Sanitary Trim needed?
If you take your dog or cat to a groomer regularly, chances are you pet gets a sanitary trim as part of their groom. Most owners choose to have the sanitary areas clipped short for ease of maintence, and better overall hygiene.
If you will be grooming your dog at home, you can perform a sanitary trim each time you groom. Some owners also chose to do a "mini-groom" in between full grooms, which normally consists of a bath, blow-dry and brush out, trimming the sanitary areas, paw pads and nails, and a slight tidy up around the eyes/face.
A female that has not been spayed will often have a sanitary trim when she's in heat to make cleaning up blood and discharge easier. If planning to breed, trimming the genitals can also make access easier. Sanitary trims are recommended for longer-coat pets with incontinence to avoid infection and make clean-up easier for owners. Long-haired cats or kittens who use litter trays can be trimmed to avoid litter or feces sticking to the coat. Pregnant dogs and cats often have their abdomen area trimmed to give kittens and puppies easier access to nipples for feeding.