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!
- 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.
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.
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!