Matting: The Painful Truth
Matting is caused by dense tangles and knots in your pet’s fur. Mats cut off the air flow in your dog’s hair and can trap moisture, which can cause irritation and sores on your dog. It’s a painful condition that can lead to other health concerns such as infections or skin irritations and can also mask other health issues or parasites. Even mild matting can be painful, but in severe cases, matting can cut off circulation to your dog’s skin and cause hematomas, especially on ears, tails and legs. In some circumstances, matting may be so severe that you would need to take your dog to a veterinarian for treatment.
Any long hair dog can get matting, but certain breeds and coat types are more prone to matting, such as Poodles, Doodles, Curly coats, Cocker Spaniels, Bichon, Shih Tzu and any variation of these breeds. Dogs with long silky coats such as Yorkies can also get matted, as well as double coated breeds.
Friction – Matting is typically found in areas of your dog with the most friction. This includes armpits, where the collar or harness sits, legs where they lay down or come in contact with wet grass, behind the ears or areas of the body where they might be scratching.
Seasonal – Matting can develop during the time of year where they are “blowing their coat” and getting their summer coat. If the loose fur isn’t brushed and removed, dead skin mixes with fur and it becomes a breeding ground for mats.
Allergies – Long hair dogs who have allergies that cause them to lick and itch will almost always develop some matting.
Fleas – If your dog has fleas and itches, the scratching will result in matted fur.
Water – Water can also contribute to matting. Rolling in the wet grass in the morning or after a rain can cause matting. If your dog enjoys swimming, chances are, he has experienced some matting as well. This is why we can not bathe a dog if there is matting. This will only cause the mats to get tighter. If you wash your dog at home, be sure to thoroughly dry and brush out to prevent matting. (It is recommended that you always brush and remove mats before getting your dog wet!)
If the matting on your dog is mild, it can sometimes be brushed out with the use of de-tangling sprays, products, and tools. This is time-consuming and can sometimes be painful. Therefore this should only be done if the matting is mild. If you detect some mild matting in your dog, do NOT bathe them! Remember, the water will cause the mats to get tighter. Bring your dog to the groomer before the mats get too bad.
De-matting – Imagine trying to brush out dreadlocks in your own hair! It would not be comfortable! De-matting involves the time consuming process of taking small sections of hair at a time and working to release the mats utilizing de-matting tools and products. Once the dog is de-matted we then have to brush them again. This is a tiring and painful process for both dog and groomer.
If the matting on your dog is severe, the safest and most humane way to remove the mats would be to clip his hair short. The length of his hair will depend on how tight the mats are. We must be able to get the blade under the mat right against the skin to remove them. If the mats aren’t too tight, sometimes we can get longer blades underneath the mats to salvage some length. However, if the mats are tight to the skin, we would need to use our shortest blade available to remove the mats. This would result in very short hair but would give you a fresh start and make your dog much more comfortable. This is often not the style that most owners would prefer, but is often the safest and most humane option for your dog if he is matted.
What your groomer wants you to know!
We love your dogs just as much as you do and this is why we do what we do. We are passionate dog lovers who have made a career choice of spending time with dogs and doing what we love. We only want the best for your dogs.
When your dog is matted, we believe in doing what is best for your dog. In many cases, this means shaving the mats out of your dog. Shaving is not a “short cut” to get the job done quickly, this can be a very slow, tedious and dangerous process. We are working on areas of your dog where skin is thin, likely already irritated and sometimes their hair is being pulled because of tight mats. Removing a heavily matted coat includes risks of nicks, cuts or abrasions due to warts, moles and skin folds trapped and hidden within the matted hair. Therefore, shaving a matted dog must be done slowly with utmost care. A signed Matted Dog Release form is required.
Cutting the mats out
Never cut the mats out of your dog’s fur with scissors. It’s very easy to catch your dogs’ skin in the mats and unintentionally create a large wound on your dog. Please do not ask us to just “cut out the mats” when your dog is matted. This is dangerous, and we will only remove mats with clippers for the safety of your dog.
Many owners who brush their dogs regularly may feel the thick layer of pelted matting under the layer of brushed fur and mistake this for the skin. Your groomer must be able to get a comb all the way down to the skin and through the coat. When the fur is pelted to the skin, it needs to be removed. If you are unable to get a comb through the hair to the skin, chances are we may not be able to either. If your dog has severe pelting, this is not something we can brush out. The matting must be shaved out.
Your dog’s ears
The skin on your dog’s ears is very sensitive and thin. If your dogs’ ears become matted, the mats can cause delicate blood vessels in the ears to rupture, causing hematomas in the ears. Hematomas can be very painful for your dog and must be treated by your veterinarian. This is why it’s best to not attempt to de-mat severely matted ears, but instead, shaving the ears is the safest option. We often uncover these hematomas and recommend a vet visit.
We know the pain that mats cause, and our first priority is to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. Shaving out mats with clippers is the safest way to remove a severe mat. This will leave a bare patch in your dog’s fur. If your dog only has one or two small areas where mats are severe, we may be able to shave those areas and keep the length on the remaining part of his body. Do not ask us to just shave the matted legs and leave the body long. It looks silly and as a professional groomer we want every dog to look his best!
Prevention is the best way to deal with matting!
Diet – A strong healthy coat relies on proper nutrition to stay in peak condition. Dogs need plenty of Omega-3’s in their diet to maintain a healthy coat and keep their immune system strong. Most commercial diets are unbalanced with fatty acids. Feeding animal-based oils such as fish oil, krill oil or salmon oil is recommended over plant-based oils (such as corn oil) as it’s already in a usable form of Omega 3 for your dog to assimilate. In addition, it prevents an overload of Omega 6 which can result in further skin inflammation, allergies or skin issues.
Brushing – Brushing your dog is the best way to prevent matting and to remove dead hair and skin. Using a de-tangling spray can help prevent static electricity, which contributes to matting. When brushing, remove your dog’s collar and take a small section at a time, being sure to cover the entire body.
Be sure to pay close attention to the ears, tail and legs.
Choose the right brush – The type of brush or comb you use will make a big difference. Brushes and combs have different sizes, lengths, spacing, and bristles. Ask us which brush is best for your pet!
Comb – A comb is helpful after brushing. There are different sizes and designs based on your dogs’ coat length. We need to get a comb through your pet’s fur in order to groom him safely. If you cannot get a comb down to the skin and through his fur, then we can’t either.
Bathing – Bathing your dog regularly will help keep his skin and coat in optimal condition. It’s recommended that you bathe your dog as often as they need it as this will help remove the buildup of dead skin and hair. Some dogs require bathing weekly and others monthly. The time between baths will vary by dog but using a gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner will help keep their skin and coat in the best condition. Never use human shampoo or dish soap on your dog. These products have an improper pH level for pets and can contribute to dry flaky skin.
Manageable length – Keeping your dog’s hair at a manageable length will help prevent matting. Getting your dog bathed or groomed every 4 – 8 weeks will help keep them at a manageable length.
We always believe in comfort over vanity. There are times where de-matting isn’t the best option for the safety and comfort of your dog. De-matting of severely matted dogs is inhumane and not a service that we will offer. We will always recommend shaving pets with severely matted coats. We reserve the right to refuse any severely matted pet at our discretion.