THE ANATOMY OF A MATT
Matting develops when hair intertwines into a mass of tangles. These tangles wrap together with dead hair from shedding, foreign objects such as burs and moisture. This creates matting – friction and moisture are the biggest co-conspirators to causing a matted coat.
Friction and Moisture – the biggest culprits of matting
Anywhere there is a collar, harness or where your pet sits, lays down, wags its tail – pretty much anywhere in contact with another surface will cause friction. Moisture is exactly that – anything that makes your pet wet. Moisture can be from swimming, walking in the rain, laying in the snow or on the ground, licking, drinking, drooling etc.
A matted coat will feel lumpy and if you try to run your fingers from the skin through the coat – your fingers get caught. You may even be misled as the matting may be so close to the skin that the coat feels combed out, but underneath “combed out hair” is a tangled carpet or pelt of hair.
Finding matting can be done with a fine to medium tooth comb. Comb through the coat, starting at the skin. If your comb is snagging but you can still progress without having to yank or pull very hard, you have tangles or pin knots. If you have to yank, your comb gets stuck or flies out of your hand – you have matting. If you can see your pets skin, place the comb there and comb from the skin to the end of your pets hair in one fluid motion you are mat free.
MATS ARE BAD. Plain and Simple
Matts, matting, pelts, knots, burrs, tangles etc. – call them what you want they are extremely painful. If you allow matting to develop, the hair will twist and pull the skin one hair at a time, hurting your pet. Imagine your hair in a tight elastic band, you sleep on it, and in the morning, when you turn, the hair pinches and pulls on your skin causing pain; this is what your pet feels head to toe. The pulling can cause blood circulation problems, bruising to the skin, which is distressing to your pet.
Under all that matting, moisture from bathing, the weather etc. can accumulate and interact with your pets warm skin; the perfect petrie dish! – A breeding spot for bacteria, fungus and parasites. This can lead to hot spots, dermatitis, folliculitis, skin infection and a book full of skin disorders plus a hefty veterinary bill for you.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID MATTING?
CAUTION: Please never cut a matt with scissors! You may cut your pet!
Matting makes it difficult to see where the matting ends and where the skin begins. Skin tents with the mat. Veterinarians are often stitching up pets skin when owners have inadvertently cut their pets while trying to remove or snip out matting with scissors.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO OPTIONS:
Dematting – This should only be done if the matting is not severe and if your pet can take the procedure. It is not a pleasant experience for pet, stylist or client. There is no magic solution, dematting is a lengthy and painful process. To break up matting, the coat is tugged and pulled, tearing at the skin, causing pain. Even with holding matting there is still a fair amount of tension on the skin. Dematting breaks the coat and makes it more susceptible to matting in the future.
Shave it – Start over – This is the most humane option – the most recommended and often only option. Clip off the pets coat and start over. A clipper cannot cut through matting, it must get under the matting to the skin surface. How short the clip is directly dependent on how severe and close to the skin the matting is.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN AFTER MATTING IS REMOVED?
When clipping short is necessary, complications arise as a result of the matting itself. Matting prevents air from circulating through hair and around skin. Skin and coat is deprived of the rejuvenating benefits and sebum distribution received from regular combing/brushing. As a result, skin is drier, more sensitive and becomes susceptible to scrapes, nicks and/or irritation by styling tools like clippers, combs and brushes.
Clipping a matted coat can uncover problems obscured by matting. Hot spots, eczema, parasites, wounds, bruising or worse may be uncovered. The removal of matting allows your dog to get to all the itchy areas they were previously unable to get to. Do not allow your dog to scratch, lick or chew at themselves or rub on the carpet or furniture. Allowing the latter to happen will cause further, painful damage to the skin and large vet bills for you. Please remember a matted coat and removing the problem is not your stylists fault – any problems are a direct result of the matting. If your pet seems uncomfortable or very itchy after removal of a matted coat it is best to see your vet before any serious skin problems arise.
Additionally, your pet will feel different and strange after shaved down. After all, your pet has not felt air on their skin for some time. Your pet may hide. This is because it feels different and because you may act or treat him differently. Don’t laugh at your pet! Love them no matter how they look – after all it is not their fault.
HOW CAN MATTING BE PREVENTED?
There are few things you can do to prevent a matting. First of all, talk to your stylist to set up a regular grooming schedule.
It is recommended that your pet visit a professional pet stylist every six to eight weeks, and go no longer than three months between visits.
The longer between grooming visits, the more time you have to maintain your pets coat at home. Even with regular visits to your groomer, brushing and combing should be done as home maintenance to prevent matting. Your groomer can show you the proper equipment and techniques to use for your particular pet breed.
If you take time out of your schedule, you and your pet will soon see the whole grooming process as a time to bond and not a time to fear. The process of grooming needs to be taught as a routine for both you and your pet. In return, it is rewarding and your pet will live a happier life without matting and provide you with years of love and devotion that only a pet can give.