Updated: Feb 9
Matting is the most common problem we see. It occurs when a dog isn't brushed thoroughly or often enough. Mats are similar to getting tangles in your hair, but on a much bigger scale.
How They Form
Mats form when a dog isn't brushed enough, especially dogs with curly, long, and/or thick hair such as doodles, poodles, Shih-Tzus, Goldens, Newfoundlands, etc... They are often formed in the undercoat or in spots that rub (such as the armpits where a harness might rub back and forth) or even in spots where dogs play with each other. 'High friction' areas are more prone to matting and typically these areas are sensitive to brush- armpits, bottom, tuck ups, and behind the ears. Often it is difficult to spot this matting because the top coat is getting brushed and looks fine, however, under that top layer they can be serious and more abundant that what meets the eye. If you hike or your pet plays outside a lot, outside debris like dead grass, twigs, and even snow will contribute to matting.
Why They Should be Avoided
Mats may not seem like a big deal, but they can cause much bigger problems. When mats form, they get tighter and tighter, pulling on the dogs skin. If they get too tight, they can even cause skin lesions and tears. Soars can form under the mats and even ear hematomas after severe matting is shaved.
How to Avoid Them
Mats can be avoided. Simply brush your dog and make sure you are getting the undercoat. Sometimes when brushing them, their topcoat looks nice and fluffy, but the undercoat is matted. What we suggest is to get a greyhound comb and run it through their fur, gently getting as close to the skin as possible. If it catches, there are still mats that need to be tended to.
We also advise bringing your dog in for grooming about every 4-6 weeks and brushing in between. This will help prevent your dog's fur from getting too long, which makes them far more likely to mat. The actual timing will very from dog to dog and if you are ever unsure, you can ask us at your next grooming appointment.
A Word of Caution
If a dog comes in matted, we may have to groom them a bit differently than usual. Some mats can be cut or spot shaved. In this case, we will do our best to blend in those spots so it doesn't look too odd. In the case of severe or full body matting, we may have to shave the dog down. We will always endeavor to tell you about these cases (either at drop off or by a phone call) so that it won't be a shock.
We will not try and brush out a severely matted dog. This is for several reasons, but first and foremost, we don't want to subject the dog to that kind of pain. It can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful for them, making them fearful of the grooming process.
Cats can also get matted. If a cat has stopped grooming itself for whatever reason, they can get extremely matted, causing the same issues as with dogs.