What your groomer, and your dog, want you to know about matting
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
What is matting?
Matting is when your dogs fur becomes dense and tangles into knots. Most people think of matting as ugly but it’s also painful for your pet. Matting pulls the skin and can cause infections, and irritation. It’s important to know the causes, dangers, and preventive measures when it comes to matting to help keep your dog comfortable.
Friction- Most times matting is found on parts of the dog’s body with the most frictions. This includes armpits, where the dog’s collar or harness sits, legs where they lay down, behind the ears or areas where they may be scratching. It’s common to be in places people frequently pet your dog as well like the face/ cheeks.
Seasonal Changes- Matting sometimes develops during the parts of the year where the dog is “blowing their coat” and getting their summer coats. It’s important to brush out loose fur during this time to prevent it from becoming entangled as it sheds.
Allergies/Fleas- Long haired dogs that have allergies or a flea infestation tend to lick and itch in spots that will cause matting if not brushed or kept short. Regularly treating for fleas and your dogs allergies can make them more comfortable and have less irritation and itching.
Water- Water is a leading contributor to matting with long haired dogs. Whether the dog is getting wet from the grass or from swimming in a lake their hair can become tangled. Another thing people don’t think about with matting is the fact that getting mats wet causes them to tighten further so it’s important to dry and brush out your dog completely after baths, swimming, or becoming wet outside to help prevent matting.
Dangers of Matting
- When matting is on a sensitive part of the dog’s body, they can develop Aural Hematomas when removed. Aural Hematomas are a collection of blood outside the blood vessel. This occurs because the matting is so tight that it is cutting off circulation to those areas. Most commonly this is found on the ears but can occur other places as well. When the matting is shaved off blood rushes to the area that was matted and collects under the skin. This can be dangerous; some dogs develop aural hematomas on the tips of their ears. This can be uncomfortable for the pet, and they tend to shake their head. It’s important that if your dog has hematomas on the tips of their ears you try to reduce head shaking as much as possible. When the dog shakes their head their ears flap around and this can cause the hematomas to rupture at the tips. This can cause a lot of bleeding and be scary. If your dog develops hematomas after having mats removed, you should see your vet for best practice and advice.
- Coat may not grow back evenly or may grow back in patches (usually associated with double coated dogs or dogs with underlying health conditions)
- Dog's coat could look different in color when it grows back (possible with all haircuts, especially puppies)
- The blade required to get under matting for safety is quite short, without the protection of the coat, dogs could become sunburned or become over heated easily. If you are getting your dog shaved short a dog safe sunscreen is a good idea if spending a lot of time outdoors.
- A matted coat can conceal the presence of fleas or other pests that you may not even be aware of. When shaving the coat of a severely matted dog it’s sometimes impossible to determine in advance the presence of any moles, scabs, or other conditions on the pet’s skin and increases the risk of accidental nick, or damage to the moles or skin.
Treatment and prevention
It’s possible that the matting is too tight to be brushed out and in that case, shaving is the only option. We always believe in comfort over vanity. There are things you can do at home to help prevent matting:
- Brushing - brushing is going to be your number one trick to prevent matting. The mistake a lot of people make when brushing is only brushing the top layer of fur. It’s important to separate your dog's coat and make sure you are brushing all the way down to the skin. I find it easiest to use a combination of a slicker brush and metal comb to achieve this. Another good tool is an undercoat rake if you have a double coated dog.
- Using a quality shampoo and conditioner will also help with preventing matting. I love Tropiclean products but for tangles I recommend using Chi Shampoo and Conditioner for dogs. It leaves the coat silky-smooth and the conditioner really helps with tangles.
- Using a detangling leave-in conditioning spray can make brushing easier too, especially if you have a long haired or curly coated dog. You can spray the detangling spray on your dog’s damp coat after their bath and before drying, or spray on dry fur and brush it through your dog’s coat.
- If brushing a lot doesn’t sound like something you can keep up with then getting on a consistent grooming schedule is key! We can help!
Overall, the best thing to do is prevent matting from happening in the first place. We want to help your pet as much as you do and we want to do it comfortably and safely. Removing matting can be extremely difficult and dangerous depending on the level of matting. It is possible that we may not be able to shave a dog if the situation becomes too dangerous for us or for them. In these cases, we would refer you to a vet who offers grooming who may be able to use shorter (surgical) blades and/or give your pup a calming medicine to help make the process less traumatic for them. Make sure to find a trusted groomer (like me 😉) to help you manage your dog’s fur and keep them healthy and happy
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