Matting is a knot that has basically gotten out of control. It’s twisted and tangled it’s through other bits of hair to form a solid clump of mess!
Matting is caused mainly by friction and becomes worse with lack of brushing or incorrect brushing techniques.
The most common areas where occurs are: around the collar line, armpits, groin, inside of the legs – more so the rear legs and the base of the tail/bottom area. Notice something? These are also common areas for friction and areas which are often forgotten during brushing.
If your dog favours one hip to the other, you may find more knots on one side of your dog, If your dog licks a certain area often, this hair needs to be brushed more regularly as the saliva tangles the hair making it easier to knot.
If your dog has the type of coat that tangles very easily, they will also be more prone to matting as brushing becomes more difficult and and the knots are seemingly never-ending.
Never leave a dog matted
Once your dog develops a mat or areas have become matted, if the hair is not released, the hair continues to become entangled over and over again pulling on your dog’s skin. This pulling can not only be painful for your dog but can lead to a whole world of trouble – and although these things may seem far fetched, they are not uncommon at all. In some of these are too common.
Common Health Issues Seen in Matted Dogs
Skin Irritation & Dandruff
Bruising & Sores
Urinary Tract Infection
Entwined Grass Seeds (Which can cause a bunch of things)
Inability to Move Limbs That are Matted
Prevention is Best!
There is some good news, preventing matting is actually quite easy.
Firstly, I should say, although matting can only occur in dogs with long hair, it can occur in any small amounts of hair too. So no amount of hair is off the table if it’s long enough.
The only tools you require are a slicker brush and a steel comb. With these two tools use correctly, your dog should never have to go through the horrible feeling of being matted.
Brushing & Combing
Don’t be shy! If you’re unsure of how to properly brush your dog, ask your groomer. They will love it if you ask them to show you and there are even some good videos online.
The basic rule is that you want to brush with the lay of the coat all over your dog, being mindful of the stomach, face, groin and bottom. All these areas will need brushing if the hair is long but require a little extra care.
Once their coat has been thoroughly brushed, move to the steel comb, you’ll be surprised how many more knots are left behind even after brushing.
– DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF ONLY USING A BRUSH –
The brush loosens up the knots and dead hair, the comb will actually remove the tangles.
Pelting: This is when the whole dog or large areas of the dog is completely stuck together with large mats causing a pelt like mass to form. During shaving, this often comes off in one or two pieces from a whole dog
When it’s too late: Shave It.
There is a certain point when it’s just too late to save your dogs hair. This is for the best interest of your dog, believe me. There’s nothing nice about brushing out mats close to the skin and there’s nothing nice about shaving them out either. Both require careful brush, comb and clipper manoeuvres, although, one is less painful. Can you guess which one?
If the matting is bad to the point of pelting, quite often a groomer will refuse to even shave them as the risk of cutting their skin is too high – these dogs are best left in the care of a vet clinic groomer who would be better equipped in case of an accident.
What won’t help?
Firstly, leaving it won’t help! It’s not a problem that fixes itself.
Secondly, washing your dog. Water further tangles the knot and the act of drying shrinks the knot so that it becomes tighter.
The easiest way to prevent mats is to brush and comb your dog regularly so they never have the chance to form. If you’re struggling to brush/comb out a particular knot, it’s okay to cut it out before it gets too tight and causes any issues. Once the coat has matted too much, the only option is to shave the hair off and start again. If your not sure of how to brush your dog, ask a vet or groomer to show you.