Grooming Articles
This poor little poodle was matted to the skin all over it's body.  You can see the pelted hair pulled back from the shaved skin.
This little fellow was like a new dog once the offending coat was removed!
His owners were horrified - they did
not realize what had happened.

What? My dog is matted? By Linda Sallee-Hill

You may not realize it, but Mats are one of your Pets worst enemies.  Pet's left
in a matted condition are usually ignored or neglected, perhaps not intentionally.  Many human owners simply do not understand how miserable this condition makes their pet.  The pets will chew, dig at themselves and suffer tremendously if the mats are not removed.  Mats can even weave so tightly it can tear the skin and cut blood circulation off to areas that are affected.   Some pet owners think that because the dog is chewing and scratching there must be a flea or skin problem....but not always, many problems can result from or be aggrevated by the presence of mats.

How did my pet become matted?  The answer to this question is very simple.  The pets coat has not been attended to.  Many pet owers do not take the time, understand or have been advised how to properly comb and brush their pet.  Combing and brushing needs to be done on a regular basis, and the pet should be taught from puppyhood to accept grooming as part of it's care.   A dog or cat can not brush themselves, and home care is a part of the responsiblity one acceptes when owing a companion animal.  

Mats hurt.  Imagine how your head would feel if your hair was matted.  But on pets, the matter is worse, as mats occur in the groin area, in armpits, around tails - all areas that move when the pets move, and the hair is constantly being pulled - ouch!   Pets skin is just as sensative as our own skin.

What happens if I can't or don't get the mats out?    If the mats are not removed in some way, they will eventually become an extreme health hazard to your pet.  In the worst case, the mats can rip the skin.  Wetting the pet will just make it worse, and the mats will weave tighter and pull harder on the skin.   About the only humane way to remove mats at this stage is to have the pet shaved.  Even then, the pet will be at risk from clipper burn and possible nicks from the clipper blades as mats are usually very close to the skin.  This is especially dangerous for cats and puppies.  NEVER try to remove mats with scissors, as the skin can be easily sheared open unintentionally.  
This is another view of the same
The most common places mats start on dogs are:

Behind the Ears,
Around the neck where the collar is
In the armpits, and
the crotch area

A badly matted animal is actually a prisoner in it's own hair.

Fleas and ticks can hide under the mats making their eradication virtually impossible, and if the mats cover the 'private' areas, urine and feces will be pressed against the skin or stick in the coat, causing further irritation (like diaper rash) and possible infection.

Just how do I comb or brush out the mats?   The amount of coat care will depend on how much coat your pet has.  Medium to long coats, and those with more undercoat will require more attention than short coats.  Even short coats need some kind of attention.

               To start with, you will need the correct tools:

Metal Comb, preferably made of Stainless Steel
Slicker Brush
Anti-Static Spray

All of these items should cost less than $20.00, they can usually be found at your local Pet Supply Store, Feed Store, Grocery Store, or can be ordered through a Pet Supply Catalog or online like Pet Edge.  Human Anti-Static spritz can be used.

O.K., I've got the equipment, now what?   Now is when you use a little elbow grease and ALOT of care.  Mats are usually in sensative areas, and since they were formed, they have been pulling on the dogs skin.  That means, if you are not careful, it will hurt alot when you pull.  You must hold the mat in one hand, dampen with the spritz, and work it a few hairs at a time to break it up.  If you have not taught your dog to be handled for brushing & combing then you'll have quite a job on your hands and will probably need the help of another person to hold the dog.

Can't I just take the dog to a Groomer to get this done?   Yes, you can take your dog to the Groomer to have it properly groomed, but do not expect de-matting to be a regular part of your grooming.  It takes extra time and care to de-mat a pet, and you will be charged an additional fee for it on top of your regular grooming charge.  You will be required to sign a de-matting release.  Do not be surprized if your Groomer will not de-mat, if the matting is to extensive the only option they will give you is to shave your pet.   Groomers will not torture a pet because you do not want it shaved.   After all, it is not the Groomers fault your pet has  fallen into this condition.


You will find in the long run, proper coat maintenance will cost
you less and your pet will be much happier.
Cocker Spaniel before & durring mat removal.
Cocker Spaniel untouched for over a year.  On right shows ear's with 5" thick felted mats.
1)  What? My dog is matted?
2)  Elderly Dog Grooming Considerations
3)  Nail Care for your Dogs
4)  Why A Bath is NOT 'Just a Bath'