In the last two years, while working on Animal Planet’s Underdog to Wonderdog I have had the opportunity to spend loads of time with my good friend Ali McLennan. Ali is a respected and talented groomer and I have learned so much from her in regards to this very important part of pet parenting. Ali has tackled some serious grooming issues and has kindly offered to share some of her experiences and tips with us here. To follow are some tips from her about dematting a dog.
Mats are those nasty, knot like bits of fur which develop without proper maintenance grooming (i.e. brushing) which can collect dirt and cause pain as they pull at the dog’s skin. Some dogs, like Bo, a little Poodle from Underdog to Wonderdog, are more prone to matting than other dogs.
But, even responsible pet parents, who groom regularly may find that a small mat is starting to develop. They happen to the best of us. Here are a couple of at home tips to remove those nasty mats at home. All of this is done PRIOR to a bath. Never bathe a matted dog as this will only cause to make them worse.
1. Hold the entire mat in your hand at the base of the mat (closest to your dog’s skin) as you want to make sure you don’t damage your dog’s skin. Also, by holding the mat in your hand this way you will make sure that any ‘brush burn’ will happen to your hand and not your dog’s delicate skin. That is, if you apply too much pressure to the brush.
2. Rub a pinch of cornstarch into the mat. This is a tried and true home remedy and is very effective as a dematting aid.
3. Use a Matbreaker to split the mat. Matbreaker is the brand name and is what I use in my shop. Use the Matbreaker to break the mat into two or three smaller pieces. Stop there, though, you don’t want to make a hole in the coat.
4. Use a slicker brush to break up the mat. A slicker brush has wire bristles that are slightly bent at the ends, I use the LesPooches brand. Never let the bristles touch your dog’s skin. To avoid this, be sure to brush the mat as you hold it in your hand.
5. Brush the entire area with a pin brush. These are dog/cat grooming brushes that look sort of like normal human hair brushes. Here is where you can let go of where the mat was as at this point it should be about gone.
6. Finally, comb the area with a steel comb. Start with the wide toothed side and finish with the small toothed side.
If your dog is not amenable to this process, or if the mats are too close to the skin, you may need to have your professional groomer shave him down. You’ll be doing the right thing for your best friend as dematting large areas of matting can be potentially painful for the dog. In six weeks the coat will grow back quite a bit and be nice and fluffy again. You can ask your groomer to be creative with the shave down. Sometimes she can save a fluffy tail, long ponytail ears, or even a mohawk! As long as your buddy is having an extreme cut you might as well have some fun with it!
Thank you to Ali “Groomer Extraordinaire” McLennan!