The ABC's Of Matting
A mat is a tangled mass of hair, held together by interwoven fibers. There are many types of mats, some easier to remove than others. Some coat types get matted and tangled easier than others because their hair shafts have more spurs. Fine coated breeds such as Bichons, Poodles, Cockers and Schnauzers can get tangles in their coats that can be very difficult to brush out. Drop coated breeds such as Shih Tzus, Llhasas and Malteses have similar problems with their fur.Dogs with combination coats such as Goldens, Aussies or border Collies have target areas subject to tangles in the longer around the rump and behind the ears. Breeds that shed heavily will have dead coat packed into the guard coat that can, in most cases, easily be removed during the shedding season with the right tools.
When seen under a microscope, a single hair shaft looks much like a single sprig from a briar bush with little thorns. Some hair types have lots of barbs while others are much smoother. As a general rule, the guard coat has the most barbs per centimeter. The typical mat consists of numerous coarse guard hairs, crisscrossing one another. These guard hairs often end up catching and holding loose hairs from the finer undercoat. In other cases, the finer undercoat is still firmly attached to the skin. One of the reasons mats become so dense is that undercoat grows at a faster pace than the guard coat. Once tangles start to occur in the guard coat, the undercoat quickly packs up very tightly.
Other factors that cause matting are dirt, static, moisture & friction or compression. Dirt, dander and other debris that get caught up in the fur will literally hold the hair shafts together. Too much moisture is another reason matting occurs. Once a slightly tangled coat is wet and allowed to dry without brushing or blow drying, the fibers will shrink and become extremely tight.
Areas that rub together on a pet are likely places for mats to form. Typical areas include - behind the ears, front legs, inner thigh area, tails, collar areas.
In all but the severe cases, washing and drying the dog before a full brush out is one of the most effective means of mat removal. In a lot of cases, it is better to wash the pet prior to any dematting work. The general rule is, if the water can penetrate the tangle, bathe the dog first. Once the coat is clean, use the high velocity dryer to push the tangle apart.
Should bathing and high velocity drying fail to remove a mat/tangle, the best alternative is thoroughly line brushing out shaving the mat out. Either way you choose for removal, make sure the procedure is kind and humane. Each animal has its own pain threshold.
What To Expect After De-MattingAfter the dematting process, wheather it be a total shavedown or not, you may see some of the following:- Sores/scabs that were hidden by the matts- Red, irratated skin (mats pull at the skin, cutting off the blood supply)- Fleas or ticks may be found- Your pet may be itchy or uncomfortable for several days. Rest assured, he will be far more comfortable when mats are removed after the initial discomfort subsides!Regular grooming by a professional and brushing in between grooms at home, will keep your dog healthy, happy and fluffy!