Yesterday as Groomers we encountered a situation we have seen countless times before. The dog that was brought to us was so severely matted, it took over four hours to get them out and that was without a bath. This two year old Shih-Tzu was a ball of knots.
Dematting a pet is a painful and upsetting experience. Even though the removal of the mats gives a feeling of relief, it can cause a moment of pain. Think of having your hair in a pony-tail or under a hat all day. When you release your hair don't you feel relief mixed with some twinges of pain. This is a pale comparison to what your pet feels when they have mats that are being removed. Mats can appear quite quickly and will worsen when wet. They usually start close to the skin and in longer haired breeds can often go un-noticed until they are quite painful and may require shaving as the only method of removal. As a mat pulls hair from different directions, the skin underneath is pulled tight and if left too long a lesion can form on the skin. These lesions, left untreated, can become infected and require veterinary care.
Regular brushing can prevent matting and can also be a bonding and fun time. Approach it with THAT attitude and even the most reluctant pet will come to enjoy it over time! Pay attention to the areas prone to matting like behind the ears, around the neck where the collar goes and the inside of the legs. Brush the entire coat with a brush suitable to your dogs coat and start with the head, brushing in strokes down the length of the back and don't forget the tail. Use a soothing voice and praise your pet as you brush them. End the experience with a small favorite treat. Positive reinforcement goes a LONG way! Should matting be detected it is important to contact your groomer for quick removal to ensure the comfort of your pet.
Back to our situation from yesterday, the matting was the most severe we had ever seen and many groomers would have sedated the dog at the very least. We used our gentle touch and crooned softly while gently shaving the mats out one by one. Once we were done we were left with a much smaller and happier dog and even after four hours on the grooming table he still offered up kisses and was wagging his tail. We know he had a good nights sleep on his new soft mat free, short haircut.
We have seen many pet parents surprised at the problems matting can cause. When we explain, they more often than not take action to prevent future matting. We hope this post helps to educate every pet parent, new or experienced!
Warm Hearts & Wet Noses!
Dominique & Lee