Mats, Tangles, and Snarls

A matted dog is more than an aesthetic issue. Tight mats pull at the skin, effect mobility, and can even cause injury if left unaddressed. Let’s look at the areas where fur commonly tangles up and talk about how to prevent it!

Felted fur on back leg
  • Neck: Collars mash long fur down, and friction causes it to mat. Silky coated dogs can get “ball mats” behind their ears from their collars riding up. Take your dog’s collar off daily for brushing.
  • Armpits and groin: these areas are often neglected during brushing because they’re hard to get to even on a cooperative dog! Keep these areas clipped clean, you only see them for belly rubs anyhow!
  • Sanitary areas: under the tail, around genitals, and the “pants” of long-haired pups can get pretty yucky. These are also areas to keep clean, short, and neat. If you like fluffy fur on your dog’s backside be sure to brush it!
  • Beards and moustaches: food gets stuck, then the dog scratches at it which smashes more fur into it. Add a trip to the water bowl and you have a big, stinky mess of a beard! Remember how powerful your dog’s nose is; if his face smells bad to you imagine how much stronger that scent is to him! Comb your dog’s beard out daily to prevent debris from building up.
  • Between the toes: another place we don’t normally think to brush! Big clumps of fur between the toes makes walking painful, and dogs will chew their feet trying to get the mat out. This just makes things worse! During brushing, gently run your brush over the top of your dog’s foot, from his toenails towards his leg. This will pull the fur up and out so you can keep it tangle-free. You can also run a comb between each toe, drawing the fur to the top of the foot. This is not an area to stick scissors into! The webbing there is very delicate and easy to knick. If you see a mat in the fur you’ve pulled to the top of the foot, cut it from there or let the groomer take care of it.
Mats cut from between toes

If your dog is currently matted, know that a “fresh start” is often the kindest option. Picking deep mats out is painful, as it tugs at the dog’s skin and can even cause tearing in areas with thin skin or on elderly dogs. Heavily matted fur restricts blood flow and can hide underlying issues like sores or growths that you may not see. Knots in the armpit and “leg pits” can bind, preventing the dog from walking normally or causing discomfort with every step. Be cautious in cutting mats out at home. Besides leaving holes in the coat, it can be tricky to know where the mat stops and the skin begins because the mat pulls skin into it.

mats shaved from ear01

Different fur textures mat in different ways, but any coat with length can snarl up. If a long coat is too much to keep up with at home, regular trips to the groomer (4 to 6 weeks is the recommended schedule) will keep your dog in good condition. You don’t have to book a haircut every time, a “face feet and fanny” or even just a thorough brush-out will do! While you’re in, I can show you how what tools to use and how to brush to prevent mats and keep your pup looking and feeling good!

Scratch Boards

If your dog resists having his claws clipped try teaching him to file them down himself! A scratch board is easily built with either 120 grit sandpaper or slip-proof tape (the sort used on stair edges) and a plank of wood of a reasonable size for your dog. Wrap the sandpaper around the edges of the board and secure with a staple gun or adhesive, making sure that the corners aren’t sharp and the dog won’t be pawing over the staples.

Grab your clicker and some treats and reward your dog for first investigating, then touching the board. When he places a paw on it, click that a few times and stop. In your next session, click only for paw touches, then hold your click until he leaves his foot on the board for a longer period of time or drags it across the surface. Keep going in this way over the course of several short training sessions until he gives you good swipes with contact between nails and board. Make a game of it and in no time you’ll have a dog that does his own pedicures!

For more information about claw care, including how to condition your pup to accept nail trims, call us!

 

Sprocket gets a haircut!

Yeesh. Just look at this mop!

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An absolute mess

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Matted tail. Shameful.

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Who would let their dog get into such shape?! Oh right… that’s my dog.

We need to fix this, and fast.

First, the pre-clip. Let’s get rid of as much fur as possible before tub time!

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That’s a little better.

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Getting there…

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Alright, NOW we can have a bath! And a dry, and lots of brushing before clipping, scissoring and combing.

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Much better, yes? I had to leave the beard and ears, I love them so. But now he can see, his feet don’t look like rags and he looks a lot happier!

Picking a Park

Molly at the park

There are so many dog parks popping up, how do you pick the right one?

    • Pass or open to all? It’s not a fool-proof system, but parks that need a pass require proof of vaccinations, meaning your dog is less likely to pick up something yucky from his friends.
    • Big dog/Small dog zones. Can your yorkie play with pups her own size or is everyone sharing the same space?
    • Cleanliness. Are there garbage cans and are they emptied frequently or are they brimming with poop bags? Does the park provide bags? People are less likely to pick up after their dogs if not.
    • Security. Is the fence in good shape? Is there a double gate so no one escapes when someone arrives or departs?
    • Other people. Swing by the park without your dog and scope out the people. Are they on their phones or chatting with each other? On the other end of the spectrum, is everyone crowding the dogs while they play? There is a middle ground between ignoring and hovering!

 

 

How did you choose a park to play at? What helped you make up your mind?