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How To Undo Your Dog's Tangles

The Delicate Job Of Dematting

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No doubt in your arsenal of dog grooming supplies you may already have some of the tools for dematting your dog. But, are you a little chicken to actually tackle the job? Have you been leaving it up to the groomer? If Rover is having a bad hair day, who do you think he would prefer to take care of this snarly job? His kindly master, or the busy groomer who has many dogs backed up waiting for attention? Ouch, ow, youch, yow, ooh, aargh... it's an easy answer!

OK, so let's get right into the nitty gritty of dematting 101.

Mats - What Are They And Why Do They Matter

Mats are nasty entanglements of hair that may involve the topcoat, undercoat, dirt, burrs, loose hair hanging around and just about anything your dog may have gotten into. Basically, they are pesky little nuisances we'd rather just avoid in the first place if we could! But, because they can be quite damaging and even painful for Rover, the only solution is to remove them before they become more serious matters! Keeping your dog free of them is, unfortunately, an ongoing task that begins by establishing a foundation of regular grooming habits. Dead hair is a breeding ground for mats. A coat that is brushed and clean stays in better condition and is less likely to develop them. But, even with our best efforts, almost every dog owner will inevitably have to "go to ground" with a mat!

How Do Mats Get Started?

You may be wondering what causes these fur devils that seem to come from out of nowhere, and what you could have done to prevent them. The cause isn't always very obvious. Many everyday activities can lead to them. Perhaps a few got started while your dog was at the pet boarding hotel. Or maybe while you were on a vacation and slightly less attentive to the daily brush! Even your back yard where Rover romps could be the place that gets the mat rolling.

Another common pitfall is the notion that a puppy does not need regular brushing until the coat is more mature. The reality is that a dog's coat is much more susceptible to matting when it is in the process of changing to an adult coat. Yet another reason is that some coats are just plain high maintenance and much more vulnerable to the problem. Long, silky or double coats fall into this arena, as do dogs that like to play in the water. Wet hair tends to stick together and before you know it, a mat follows.

An often overlooked culprit could be your choice of grooming tools. Inferior brushes and combs can actually damage and weaken a dog's coat, making if far easier to develop a mat.

And lastly, even your dog's diet or allergies may lead to coat problems. A strong healthy coat relies on sound nutrition to stay in peak condition.

Snarly Solutions And Matting Methods

When it comes to actually removing a mat, there are differing opinions about whether the coat should be bathed first. Some pros are adamant that dematting should be done prior to hitting the bathtub in the belief that water tightens a mat, making it more difficult to deal with.

While others claim that a clean and conditioned coat is easier to handle, in the belief that the hair will be softer, come apart more readily and be less likely to suffer damage from the abrasive effect of dirt in the hair. Experimentation may be the only way for you to decide who wins!

Whatever the case, Rover will be mightily pleased if you just learn how to get rid of these furry disasters, with the least amount of suffering of course. Be sure to let him know that getting mats out is not only important to maintain his good looks, but also to avoid more serious consequences such as skin problems and infections from parasites.

So, without further ado, let's get down to business and talk about the ways and means to remove the snarls and restore good order to your dog's coat.

Let me say first that there is no real easy way to remove a mat - aw shucks - now don't get disheartened! Dig in your heels and go gather up some supplies: good quality combs - both wide and narrow spaced; slicker brushes - include one for under the armpits; blunt-nosed scissors; stripper knife; mat splitter and some detangling spray. You may not need all of these tools, but as you are learning the techniques you'll be able to see which ones work best for you and your dog.

Continued on page two: Snarly Solutions And Matting Methods


Having enjoyed years of unconditional love from dogs, no greater motivation was needed to inspire me to write about the many ways owners can return the love of their best friends. The website I have created, www.dog-spoiling-made-easy.com is an ongoing project dedicated not only to my favorite dog pals, but to dogs everywhere in the hope that they may all live long and happily. I support the efforts of the HSUS and Dogs Deserve Better. - Val Witt
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