Matting – A Dog Grooming Guide to Prevention and RemovalWhat is matting? Any form of tangles in your dog’s hair. It can be anything from a tiny pin mat to a solid clump of tangled hair. Most dogs can get them if they are not groomed regularly. Severe mats can be extremely painful to your dog. A dog’s ears are extremely sensitive and highly prone to matting if not properly maintained. They have a large vein that circles the entire outer edge of the ear and thick mats can restrict blood flow, causing blood clots beneath the skin that can be painful and rupture. Matting can also keep moisture and parasites closer to the skin which can lead to major skin and coat problems including hair loss, sores, and scabs. It is vital to your dog’s health to maintain their brushing routine and avoid matting all together.
Dog Grooming Brushes and How to Prevent MattingSo, now that we all understand just how awful matting can be for animals, we can start from the beginning and prevent them at the start. Regular brushing and combing is the only way to surely prevent matting and maintain a long, lustrous coat. Depending on the breed and style of hair cut, your dog may need brushing as much as daily to as little as weekly. Our dog groomers can help you correctly asses your dog’s particular needs. There are various brushes, combs, and de-matting tools out there that serve different functions depending on the condition of the coat, coat density, and matt densty. Here is a list of basic tools most dog groomers use to maintain a tangle free coat on your dog.
- Slicker Brush – The thing to remember with slicker brushes is to use repetition and not pressure. Those little pins are great for brushing out the top layer of hair on any dog, but they can hurt! You should be able to run any grooming tool (except for scissors of course!) along your own arm and not feel pain. That’s why we always say, repetition not pressure!
- Comb - If your dog has a thick undercoat or long hair, a wire or metal comb is a must! Slicker brushes can make your dog look amazing on their own…on the surface. Brushing your dog’s hair with a sturdy comb after using the slicker brush will get the undercoat or lower layer of hair brushed out too. We have seen plenty of dogs that come in looking great on the surface, only to be completely matted underneath and require shaving anyway. Always brush then comb your dog’s hair.
- Mat Splitter or De-Mat tool - There are two main types of de-mat tools to choose from if your dog has a relatively thick mat that can be split apart. One is a rake style de-mat tool that has a thumb grip and many open sharp blades. It’s pretty big so I never recommend it. There are too many safety issues from the open blades to the size and possibilities of cutting yourself or the dog. The other, and our personal favorite is a curved mat splitter. It is much smaller than the other de-mat tool and has a curved edge so that only the tangle can fit inside. To use one of these tools, you simply find the mat and hold your fingers between the tangle and the dog’s skin to ensure your tool is away from the dog’s skin. Then you slide the blades under the tangle and gently rock outward, splitting the mat apart. Repeat the process as necessary. NEVER use these tools when tangles are close to the skin or on the ears, face, or near the hocks (back hip area) of a dog. These areas are prone to cutting when the tangles are close to the skin.