Tis the time of year for pets to blow their coats and fur to be everywhere. Black pants, couches, corners of your home. It’s also the time that we see some serious issues with matted coats – and we mean serious.
So here’s a quick 101 on what you need to know about matting, from cause to prevention to care.
What it is:
Matting refers to densely tangled clumps of fur or hair in a pet’s coat. If a coat is not properly and/or frequently brushed, loose and live hair becomes embedded in large masses. Sometimes “mats” can be combed out, but, if left for too long, it is impossible without seriously harming the animal or causing extreme pain.
Mats can form in the outer coat as well as the deeper undercoat. Severe mats in the undercoat may be unnoticeable to the pet parent because of a heavy outer coat, but your groomer may spot them. If left unattended, a pet’s fur can become entirely matted to such an extent that the only recourse is to shave the entire coat. Matting is particularly prevalent in long-hair dogs during seasonal shedding if the excessive hair is not removed.
Regular and frequent grooming with proper brushing technique is necessary to not only prevent mats, but to keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy. Keeping your dog’s hair at a manageable length also helps to prevent matting. Kriser’s groomers thoroughly bathe, brush and dry your pet, with particular attention to areas where mats quickly form. Grooming should be done on a regular basis every 4 to 6 weeks; after 8 to 10 weeks, a coat may become too dirty and matted to maintain (depending upon breed and lifestyle of your dog). As a reminder, if you bathe your pet at home, try to dry the fur as well – just like humans, if they go to bed with wet long hair, you may wake up to a massive tangle.
Severe matting can be extremely painful to your dog during brushing, when it can force live hairs to be pulled out with unfortunate pain since they are so tangled into the mats. Even mild matting can cause your pet a great deal of discomfort. Plus, matting, since it tugs and pulls at the skin, can cut off blood supply to extremities, and deny regular air circulation, which can make skin unhealthy. It can turn dark pink to red, and open sores are apt to form, sometimes emitting foul odors. Things like weeds and stickers, can become embedded in the skin. Mats have been known to contain stool of the pet, or fly and insect larvae that only further irritate the skin. SO GROSS.
Remember, these mats and their consequences can be completely hidden from view, and will only become visible after removal of the coat. Some severely matted pets may require the attention of a veterinarian.
Treatment & Care:
At Kriser’s, we take the comfort and health of your pet very seriously. Though some other groomers will simply “demat”, or tear the mat out with no regards for the pet’s comfort, we will not. In our opinion, the only humane answer is to shave down severe mats. We’ll always ask you first, of course, and will reserve the right to not care for your pet if we disagree on the requirements for that pet.
Shaving a matted coat is a delicate and slow process requiring experience and expertise. A dog’s skin is thin like tissue paper, and dense mats can cause it to become loose due to the weight of the matting. Matted hair rests tightly against the skin, so the only way of removing mats is to use a short blade to clip between the skin and mats. We will recommend proper care after a shave down, as that skin can be super red and irritated from the weight of the mats and even from the closeness of the shave. Pet parent should watch to ensure that constant scratching does not cause the skin to become irritated or sores to form.
The Good News:
But let’s go back to the beginning. The safest, most comfortable way to deal with a mat is to never get one at all. Ask your Kriser’s Pack Member or a Kriser's Groomer about how to prevent and care for your pet’s fur proactively to avoid any issues.