6 Ways You’re Accidentally Contributing to Your Dog’s Matting.

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I always feel terrible when owners say how hard they’ve tried to keep their dog’s coat from becoming matted, but their dog has still become matted. Often the only option is to spot shaved matted areas or shave the entire dog really short. A short shave is not good for a number of reasons, particularly, as it affects your dog’s natural ability to thermoregulate and also opens them up to feeling the effects of the environment, which is not great during summer as your dog’s delicate skin has no protection. And during winter, their ability to raise their (now very non-existent) hairs to trap heat and create warmth is also affected. We want our dogs to be healthy, and if you have a long-haired dog, that means learning how to prevent matting but also how NOT to contribute to it!

You might not mean to do it, but there are things that you do on a regular basis that are making your dog matted. While this list is not exhaustive, I think you’ll get the picture and be able to better care for your dog’s coat.

Oopsie #1: Not brushing your dog after they’ve been for a swim.

When hair becomes wet, the strands stick together. If you don’t separate the hairs, they will dry, staying stuck together. That means that anytime your dog becomes wet, you need to brush them to separate the hairs to prevent them from drying together. On top of this, wet hair is “fuller”, in a way, and as it dries it constricts and tightens, making it more difficult to untangle after. It’s common for dogs to look almost “dreadlocked” after becoming wet, this is a good indication that your dog needs to be brushed.

This leads us to Oopsie #2: Washing your dog when they’re already knotty.

Considering the above, if you know your dog is already a bit knotty, washing them will only worsen the knots – potentially creating matts. In this instance, the best thing to do is a quick brush before the bath to remove any easier knots, shampoo gently without scrunching up the coat too much and then follow up after the bath with thorough brushing and combing.

Matt Vs Knot
A matt is a large clump of knotted hair that is often so entangled that it requires drastic measures of removal. Matts are also characterised as being closer to the skin while knots can be further away from he skin, sometimes only being at the tips of the hair. Knots are also typically easy enough to brush and comb out. Matts can cause bruising and circulation restriction, pain and can harbour debris and insects.

Oopsie #3: Leaving a jumper or jacket on your dog all day.

Matts and knots form easiest in high friction areas, for example, armpits, under the tail, under the ears, insides of the legs and the chin. Placing a jacket or jumper on your dog creates one giant friction zone wherever the jacket or jumper touches. If you feel your dog needs a jacket or jumper, remember to take it off daily, let them roll around for a bit (because they just will anyway) and then give them a brush and a comb. Doing so will remove any small knots before they become too difficult to remove later. The longer you leave them, the tighter and more difficult they become.
*My personal opinion about jumpers and jackets is that they are only for outdoor use on days with an icy wind. At home, your dog should already have a nice warm bed to retreat to when they feel they are too cold.

Oopsie #4: Using the wrong type of brush.

Generally, when an owner says they brush their dog all the time, but their coat condition tells me otherwise, there are two main reasons why they are still becoming matted: they’re not brushing adequately, or they’re using the wrong tools. Speak to a professional and double check the tools you have, or tools you’re going to buy are correct for your dog. Asking your dog’s groomer is a great way to find out what works for your individual dog because your groomer will have access to lots of different types of tools and will have most likely already tried them all out on your dog to find the most effective tool.
*If you want proper grooming advice, it’s best to avoid asking pet shop attendants as their knowledge is usually limited to just reading the product packets. (No offence intended) Instead, seek advice from breeders, professional groomers or dog show experts who have first-hand experience and knowledge.

Oopsie #5: Brushing, but not combing your dog.

I agree that there are some really amazing brushes out there that combine well with some individual dogs meaning there is very little need to double-check afterwards with a comb. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt and is better than not checking. Combing through your dog’s coat after brushing is the only way to tell if your dog is 100% knot free. If you feel like you do a good job brushing but your dog is still becoming matted, I highly recommend getting a good quality metal comb (they’ll last you forever) and checking your work afterwards. Wherever the comb gets stuck, there’s a knot. Switch back to your brush to get the knot out and check the area again with the comb. Do this until your comb glides through with little effort.

Oopsie #6: You have your dog’s coat cut too short.

What?! I know right, sounds weird but each breed and individual can have a different coat texture. Cutting some dogs very short makes them susceptible to “re-growth tangles” (I just made that term up now! 💁🏻‍♀️) As hair grows back, particularly undercoat, it must push through the thicker layers of Primary and Primary Lateral hairs, however, if these hairs are already short, It can be difficult for the undercoat it get through and it can become stuck and therefore, tangled. This is evident in breeds like Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, particularly, in areas such as the groin that are often shaved short for “cleanliness”. I personally don’t clip these areas short for this reason as it ends up creating a vicious cycle of becoming easily matted and needing to be shaved. When it should be easily brushed out to prevent matting. These individuals often get quite itchy when being shaved short as the thick hairs start to grow back. Speak with your groomer about whether your dog is better to be kept at a different length to prevent contributing to matting and general uncomfortableness.

We often don’t realise how uncomfortable our dogs are because they have an amazing survival instinct and resilience to external circumstances. With knowledge comes power and once we know better, we can do better. Avoid making these six “oopsies” and your dog will love you for it!

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