To better understand matting and why it's important to your dog's health and comfort we first have to start with a better understanding of matting.
What is matting? Hairs have tiny barbs along the shaft, the barbs can get hooked together forming tangles, tangles can get hooked together forming a more solid mat. Once matting is formed it can start to tighten and pull on your dog's skin causing pain and discomfort. Moisture, new hair growth, and dander can also get trapped beneath the matting causing skin problems. Mats may involve topcoat, undercoat, dirt, burrs, loose hair stuck in the coat or anything else your dog has gotten into. Matting will be most common in areas of friction like under their collar, behind their ears, in their armpits, on their lower legs or, the spots they sit on.
Your dog's coat is often more susceptible to matting when:
- They're in the process of changing from their puppy to their adult coat.
- Their coats get wet - The hairs stick together when their coat gets wet (which makes brushing your pet out after baths, swimming, or walks in the rain.
- Some coats are more vulnerable to matting than others (Poodle, Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, and any dog with a long coat or who is a heavy shedder to name a few)
Keeping dogs free of matting is an ongoing task that begins by establishing a foundation of regular grooming habits. Coats that are brushed and clean are less likely to develop matting. Regular brushing is going to be the best defense against pesky mats. Now that we better understand matting and how they form lets review some ideas to prevent matting in the first place.
Steps to prevent matting:
- Brush thoroughly, section by section on a regular basis
- Brush before bathing to the point that a fine-toothed comb will glide through the coat everywhere without snags
- Rinse shampoo and conditioner completely
- Blow dry coat completely section by section and brush out after
- Regular grooming visits every 4-6 weeks
- Feed high-quality food
Now we've learned what matting is along with steps to help prevent matting lets take a deeper dive into the main form of prevention - regular brushing. Regularly brushing serves two main purposes between you and your dog. 1. The prevention of matting and 2. Bonding time with between you are your dog.
How to properly brush your dog's coat:
You should always brush small sections at a time using a soft slicker brush. Push coat up with hand to line of skin, pat brush into hair and pull away from dog’s coat gently. Continue with this method of lifting, patting, and gentle stroking until all hair clumps and tangles are gone. A thorough brush out using these steps will find any tangles hidden under the top layer of coat. When are you done? A fine-toothed metal comb should be able to glide through your dog's coat without getting snagged. This process should be repeated daily to once every couple of weeks depending on the coat to help prevent matting from forming.
Once your dog's coat becomes matted, the process of removing mats can be laborious. A dog will only put up with so much heavy brushing at a time. If it appears that your dog is unable to handle the amount of brushing needed or if the matting is too solid it may be time to explore a detangling package at the spa or clipping off the mats by a professional groomer.
Do you still have questions about matting? Give me a call, I would be happy to assist you in any way possible.
Thanks for reading,