Matting is a condition in your dog's fur that is caused by dense tangles and knots. 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. Mats cut off the air flow in your dog's hair and can trap moisture, which can cause irritation and sores on your dog. Even mild matting can be painful, but in severe cases, matting can cut off circulation to your dog's skin and cause hematomas. In some circumstances, matting may be so severe that you would need to take your dog to a veterinarian for treatment.
Some dogs have coats that are higher maintenance and more vulnerable to matting. 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, Bishon, ShihTzu and any variation of these breeds. Dogs with long silky coats such as Yorkies can also get matted as well as double coated dogs.
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. If your long hair dog goes outside after rain and his belly rubs the wet grass, he's likely to get matted between his legs or belly. If he 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 detangling 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. Early treatment of the mats will help prevent skin conditions and may salvage some hair length.
Imagine trying to brush out dreadlocks in your own hair! It would not be comfortable! The dematting process involves taking small sections of hair at a time and working to release the mats utilizing dematting tools and products and then brushing.
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.
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.
Brushing - 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 demat severely matted ears, but instead, shaving the ears is the safest option. We often uncover these hematomas and recommend a vet visit.
Realistic Expectations – 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 dogs 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. However, if your dogs' legs are matted and the body is not, he may look a little silly with shaved legs. Therefore, many times it's best to start all over.
Prevention is the best way to deal with a mat
-Avoid getting them!
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.
Choosing 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.
Slicker brushes – These have fine wire
bristles that bend and are great for long heavy-coated dogs. The heavier and
thicker the coat is, the stiffer the pins should be.
Comb – A comb is
helpful after detangling. There are different sizes and designs based on your
dogs' coat length.
Soft Bristle brush – This is ideal for short hair dogs to brush the surface. Soft bristle brushes do not help with matting.
Pin Brush – Pin brushes have metal bristles in a rubber base. These are great to separate and untangle silky coats.
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 build up 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 contribution to dry flaky skin.
Brushing - Brushing your dog is the best way to prevent matting and exfoliate the skin. Using a moisture or detangling 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.
Often times, the back of the body is the easiest to brush, so this gets the most attention, whereas the legs, tail, or ears get left out. So be sure to pay close attention to those areas as well.
Manageable length – Keeping your dogs hair at a manageable length will help prevent matting. Getting your dog's hair cut every 4-6 weeks will help keep them at a manageable length.
We always believe in comfort over vanity. There are times where dematting isn’t the best option for the safety and comfort of your dog. Dematting of severely matted dogs is inhumane and not a service that we will offer. If it can't be humanely saved, it should be removed.
The good news is that hair grows back! In the meantime, your dog will be much more comfortable with mats removed, and his skin will have proper airflow to begin healing.