Pet Differently: Discover the Difference

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How to Prevent Matting: A Guide for Pet Parents

What is Matting?

The term “matting” or “matted” typically refers to dense thick tangles clumped together in your pup’s coats. This can either appear in high-movement or high-friction areas (like the legs, tail, ears, around the muzzle, and under their collar) or it can even present throughout your pup’s entire coat. Matting can occur with any medium-to-long-haired and double-coated pups.

How Does Matting Happen?

Matting is most often caused by an improper brushing routine, whether it be by frequency or incorrect tools for your pup’s coat type. Not to worry as your local salon can happily recommend different brush and comb types best for your pup. Matting can also occur from friction (like rubbing of a collar around the neck) or from contact with water without detangling afterwards (swimming, playing, bathing, or drinking).

How Do I Prevent Matting?

First, let’s talk brush types. There are lots of different brushes available for all hair types.

Slicker/Pin Brushes: Slicker and pin brushes typically have tines and pins of varying stiffness, some with plastic or rubber tips and some without. These are a good choice for medium to long haired pups. These work by breaking up tangles in a “pat-and-pull” fashion. Beware of brushing irritation on the skin by not brushing too hard or too many times over the same area.

Rubber Curry Brushes: These are rubber brushes with flexible rubber bristles. They don’t really do much in terms of detangling, however they are great for removing debris or shedding coat and distributing natural oils throughout smooth and short coated pups. Rubber curry brushes can also be used during a bath to help lather and clean all the way down to the skin.

Undercoat Rakes/De-Shedding Tools: Undercoat rakes and De-Shedding tools are designed to remove excess and shedding undercoat on double-coated pups (think labradors, corgis, golden retrievers, german shepherds, etc). Some are made with sharp curved teeth while others are made with smooth straight rotating teeth. Be gentle with either type of these tools as they can also cause brushing irritation from brushing too hard or too many times over the same area.

Combs: Dog combs are typically made of metal with a smooth spine and smooth round tip teeth. Many have both a wide-tooth side and a fine-tooth side though either are both found individually. Combs are a great choice for any medium-to-long-haired and double-coated pups. Detangling fine knots or delicate areas and removing food debris from the muzzle are common uses for combs. Combs can also be used to gently work out matting starting from the ends of the hair working down towards the skin.

Now that we know all about brushes, rakes, and combs, let’s talk routine. Your brushing routine is just as important as the correct tools.

For medium-to-long-haired and double-coated pups, aim to thoroughly brush, comb, and/or rake your pup’s coat at least 3 to 4 times a week. High-movement or high-friction areas (like the legs, tail, ears, around the muzzle, and under their collar) may require additional attention.

With smooth and short coated pups, you can get away with using a rubber curry brush 1-3 times a week.

When to Enlist the Help of a Professional Pet Stylist

It’s important to recognize when matting has gotten to be too much for your pup to tolerate detangling. Signs that you may need the help of a professional pet stylist include but are not limited to:

  • More than 1/4 of your pup’s fur is tightly tangled or clumped together.
  • Your pup’s skin is showing signs of brushing irritation or bruising from detangling efforts.
  • You cannot easily part your pup’s hair to visually inspect the skin.
  • Your pup is flinching, yelping, or biting when you attempt to detangle their coat.

Whether or not any of your pup’s coat length is saved is determined by the severity of the matting. If mild enough and your pup tolerates the process safely, your professional pet stylist may be able to detangle your pup’s coat. However if the matting is severe, shaving your pup very short may be the only and most humane option. Both detangling matting and matted shave downs typically incur additional charges due to the extra time, effort, and skill to do so safely. Should a shave down be necessary your pup may look quite different from what you’re used to but do not worry as their coat will grow back out faster than you think!

As always, rest assured that your local Salty Dawg Pet Salon will be there to help you and your pup with coat maintenance and any questions you may have regarding tools or a routine!


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