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Matting: When You Just Can't Keep It Fluffy 

It can be tough to admit when we're not quite ready for certain responsibilities, and unfortunately, that can sometimes be the case with pet ownership. When I was eighteen, I adopted my first dog - a five-year-old Shih Tzu named Harpo. I thought I had done my research and that his non-shedding coat would be an ideal fit for me at the time. However, I quickly learned that his long hair required regular grooming which I wasn't prepared for. Ultimately, I made the difficult decision to re-home Harpo with a friend who could better care for him. It was a difficult lesson, but an important one in understanding our limitations and being honest with ourselves about what we can handle.

It's common to feel apprehensive about admitting past mistakes, however, being transparent and sharing knowledge can ultimately be beneficial for both the professional and the public. At Bark Ave Dog, we value education and prioritize the safety and comfort of all dogs during grooming sessions. While matting can occur, it's crucial to trust your groomer to handle the situation and prioritize your furry friend's health and well-being. Don't hesitate to ask questions and learn how to prevent matting in the future! 


In the next section, we will go over several topics that will help you understand just why regular grooming is so important for the health of your furry family best friend!


  • Structure Of A Mat

  • Why Is Matting Bad For My Dog?

  • How We Can Help

  • Prevention!

But It Looks Fine...

Alright, it's time to get serious about our furry friends and their grooming needs. We need to talk about mats on dogs - those pesky tangles that might seem harmless but can actually cause a host of health issues for our beloved pets. You see, mats provide a cozy home for all sorts of pests, from fleas to ticks. And once these little buggers move in, they can cause everything from mild irritation to anemia, not to mention the risk of Lyme disease and other intravascular illnesses. So, as responsible pet owners, it's imperative that we keep our pups well-groomed and free of mats to ensure their overall health and well-being. Trust me, it's worth the extra effort to avoid any unnecessary trips to the vet!

Structure Of A Mat

matted dog

We commonly see a few different types of mats in our practice.  The most common are the “nuggets”, impacted undercoat and spiderweb mats.  Nuggets appear like dreadlocks hanging off of the dog.  These can be cut away if they are not too close to the skin.  Impacted undercoat is exactly as it sounds.  A double-coated dog will occasionally be unable to shed away its undercoat and it becomes tangled into the topcoat causing matting.  A frequent de-shedding treatment will usually prevent this from happening, but in some cases these mats do need to be shaved out. The spiderweb mat is the most insidious of the three.  A spiderweb mat usually begins very near the skin and spreads throughout the coat causing the hair to become a solid sheet over the dog rather than individual hairs.  These tend to progress quickly because the longer hair at the tips may not appear visibly matted.  The only way to safely remove a spiderweb mat is to use clippers with a short blade to safely get underneath the web and cut the hair away from the skin.

Why Is Matting Bad For My Dog?

In addition to pests, unseen injuries may be hidden under the hair, which holds in moisture and increases the risk of infection.  These injuries could be caused by something as simple as a twig getting wrapped into the coat and scratching the skin, or could be caused by the hair itself.  That’s right, even your dog’s own hair could cause risk of injury.  As the hair begins to twist and tangle it causes tension on the skin.  It is extremely common to find tiny pin sized bruises all over a matted dog. These are called petechiae and are caused by the blood vessels under the skin breaking and causing bruising.  When these severe mats are found on a dog’s ears they can cause hematomas or blood blisters on the ear which may require draining by a vet.  

In more extreme cases the tension caused by the hair can tear the skin open.  I have personally found infected wounds on dogs caused by this. In the worst of the worst situations, the tension of the cair can cut off circulation causing loss of limbs.  

Not only can the hair tear the skin and hide infected wounds, but it can also trap moisture near the skin causing irritation known as hot spots.  Removing the excess hair allows the skin to breathe and speeds up the healing process of these spots.

Beyond the clear risk to the animal’s health, we as groomers also want to provide the most attractive haircut we possibly can.  If we were to try to groom a dog without properly removing matting our clipper combs could not evenly get through the coat.  This would cause not only a choppy, uneven cut, but also increase the risk of injury during the groom.  As the clipper blade reaches a point of resistance in a mat, it attempts to pull its way through the obstruction.  This means it will not only pull through the hair, but it could also pull the skin of the animal into the blade causing lacerations.

How We Can Help

Grooming your furry best friend regularly is crucial for their overall health and happiness. Not only does it prevent fur from getting matted, but it also helps to prevent skin irritations and infections. Additionally, grooming your pet keeps them clean and reduces shedding, while also strengthening the bond between you and your bestie.  Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety, but regular brushing can help to alleviate those feelings. It distributes their natural oils and prevents matting and skin irritations. Grooming sessions can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience!

At Bark Ave Dog, we understand the deep concern that pet owners have for the safety and comfort of their furry friends. We share that concern and prioritize your dog's well-being above everything else. As a result, we take great care to avoid any situation that could cause your dog pain or discomfort during grooming. While we will make every effort to remove smaller mats with gentle brushing, there are situations when it is not possible to remove them safely. In such cases, we believe that no hairstyle is worth injuring or traumatizing your dog. As an alternative, we offer a "Do Over Package".

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