Mats 101

Mats 101


HOW DOES A MAT FORM?
A “matted” dog is a dog with extremely tangled hair.  Mats start out as small tangles that can be easily removed by regular brushing.  If not removed, these small tangles turn into small mats.  This problem gets worse if the dog is dirty or gets wet.  As mats get larger, they can accumulate moisture, dirt, and bacteria, sometimes leading to infection.  As the mats accumulate more and more adjacent hair, they grow larger and larger.   

WHAT CAUSES MATS TO FORM?
1. Coat change from puppy coat to adult coat at age 8-14 months.  The hair coat can mat easily as the puppy coat sheds as it is replaced by a very different adult hair.
2. Long hair coats that are not routinely brushed.  The longer the coat, the more often it needs to be brushed.  A good rule of thumb is to brush the coat at least 2-3 times a week.  These dogs should be profession- ally groomed/trimmed every 6-8 weeks.
3. Top brushing of hair, missing the root of the hair.  This problem is usually encountered when using a soft brush with bristles shorter than the length of the hair.  Using a steel comb will ensure that the coat is thoroughly brushed out.
4. Itchy skin causing scratching and/or bitting causes mats to form very quickly on haircoats of any length.  Some common causes of this problem are parasites and allergies.
5. Wet hair mats more easily that dry hair.  This is why the dog’s legs are often more matted than the rest of the dog’s body.  Never bathe a matted dog!
6. Uneven hair length can cause hair to mat very quickly.  This is often caused by hair breakage from brushing/combing an unconditioned, dry, or dirty haircoat.  To reduce hair breakage when brushing or combing, it is recommended to use a conditioning spray (such as our Skin Moisturizer diluted to 1:100 and placed into a spay bottle). 
7. Unhealthy haircoat and excessive shedding.  This can be worsened or caused from the feeding of a poor quality dog food.  Sign-up for a nutritional consultation with our veterinarian to find out how to improve the condition of your dog’s skin and haircoat.  You mat also be interested in attending our class “How to read dog food labels” to learn more about the different qualities of dog food available.

REMOVING MATS IS DANGEROUS!
Why does it cost so much to remove mats from a dog’s haircoat?  Removing mats can be very dangerous to a dog’s skin.  In many cases, mats can not be simply shaved out.  In thin-skinned dogs, such as small dogs, shaving mats can easily lead to clipper nicks or cuts to the dog’s skin.  For this reason, the safest process is to remove the mats by hand PRIOR to shaving.  This process can often takes more than an hour of additional grooming time.  Many dogs are not patient enough to take this.  Mats are also painful for the dog because they pull on the skin causing skin bruising.  These red skin spots are often wrongly blamed on the groomer rather than on the mats themselves.  Even hand removing mats can be dangerous to the already damaged skin.   If you would like to learn how to safely remove mats from your dog’s haircoat, sign-up for our class “Mats 101”.