Does Matting Matter?

Yes! Matted hair on pets is a problem - just ask this Shih Tzu above who was unable to see because of mats of hair on his face!

Matting is common on non-shedding breeds of dogs. Matting ranges from harmless to dangerous. A few small mats are common, especially around a dog's ears or collar, and in between the legs. But when matting gets close to the skin, or there are many mats, it can become a problem.

Heavy matting can be even more of a problem. Matted hair can hold tears, feces and urine next to the skin. This can cause irritation, pain, and potential skin infection. If left for a long time this can cause hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) and/or hyperkeratosis (elephant skin). Heavily matted hair can change a dog's movement, cut off circulation, or hide infected wounds. In an extreme case, matting can tighten around a dog's leg or tail, slowly constricting until it has cut through to the bone!

In addition to health problems, matting can have a serious effect on your budget! When matting gets close to the skin, or there are many mats, it adds to the time our Groomer spends with your dog - causing delays and cancellations. Manual dematting or a close shave are both uncomfortable for your dog. His protests might require our Veterinary Assistant or Technician to stop her work to assist! This matting can add time - and cost - to your dog's regular grooming.

Shaving the hair off the dog is a temporary solution - and a poor one. For a close shave, if a clipper cannot slide between your dog's skin and the matting, dematting is necessary to begin removing hair. In this scenario, it is rarely possible for your dog to come home with a cute, even shave. Close shaves - with or without mats - have their own risk. Close shaves require changing and cooling blades of the clipper to protect dogs from heat burns. Friction burns (like a rope burn) are unfortunately possible because the moving parts of the clipper are so close to the dog's skin. If a dog with a plush coat is to have a lamb, or fluffy, cut, the coat must be completely free of all mats and tangles. Even while working quickly with a cooperative dog, dematting expense, in 15-minute increments, can add up fast!

It might not save time to wait so long in between grooming appointments. Grooming cost can be minimized by taking care of your dog's coat at home.

  • Start with a healthy coat. If your dog's coat is damaged or beginning to tangle, bring her in for a complete groom. Removing broken hair, split ends, and loose hairs prevents matting. A close trim in places where matting is beginning can give 6 - 8 weeks free of matting in those areas.

  • Ask how to maintain your dog's coat. Before you go home, ask Anne what comb or brush is correct for your dog's hair type. She'll show you how to use it at home.

  • Comb or brush your dog at least once a week. If your dog is impatient or uncooperative, ask Anne for help teaching your dog to enjoy combing or brushing at home.

  • If you won't take time to carefully comb and detangle your dog's hair before a bath, don't bathe your dog at home. Bathing tightens mats, making them even more difficult to remove.

  • Don't try to remove mats with scissors at home. It is too easy to injure your dog! If your dog only needs a few mats trimmed out, but isn't ready for a complete groom, schedule an appointment for dematting only.

Posted on March 30, 2011 >> Article Archive >> Grooming Blog