How We’re Handling Matting After Lockdown

The enforcement of lockdown meant that all dog groomers had to close with little warning and The Pet Retreat was no different. Many of you had appointments booked that have since been rearranged, but your dogs will have gone without the expert care of a groomer for some time now. As a result, your dog’s hair may be badly matted.

This has been a very difficult time for us all, so please try not to feel too guilty if you have not been able to keep on top of your dog’s grooming. Our professional stylists now can now help you resolve any problems that have occurred, tend to their coat and get your dog feeling their best again (and perhaps a little cooler for the summer!)

What is matting?

Matting is where the dog’s hair has become knotted and tangled around itself, forming a tight clump of hair that is difficult to remove. If matts are not dealt with at an early stage, they will trap more hair and quickly snowball out of control, knotting closer to the skin and becoming increasingly uncomfortable for your dog.

Matts can occur in many different dog breeds. They are frequently found in dogs with long, wool, fine or double coats and occur more frequently during periods of shedding. Having a matted coat can lead to a number of problems for your dog, including skin irritation and damage, a hampered ability to regulate their temperature and in extreme cases will cause the dog a considerable amount of pain. It is also more difficult to spot parasites and other injuries or ailments in a matted coat.

In severe cases, it is obvious just from looking at the dog that their coat is matted. However, in most cases you will need to look a little closer to see if matts are present. One of the easiest ways to identify whether the coat is matted is to carefully try and glide a suitable brush or comb from the skin to the end of the hair, as if there are any matts you will not be able to do this easily. Make sure you do this all over the dog’s body so that you don’t miss any, paying particular attention to the ‘armpits’ and around the ears and feet.

What will happen at my dog’s appointment?

When you bring your dog to the salon for their appointment, your groomer will start off by asking you about what grooming routine you have been able to maintain during lockdown, and when your dog last saw a professional groomer. They will then carefully examine the coat over the entire body to identify any matting and decide what the best course of action is.

The groomer will discuss with you what options are best for your dog, which will most likely be one of the below approaches. You will always be consulted beforehand if we think your dog needs clipping. Although it may be unsettling to have your dog’s fur clipped, our groomers are experienced and will endorse the best approach for each pet.

Minor Matting

If you’ve been able to maintain regular brushing all over your pet’s body during lockdown

In minor cases with small matts, your groomer may choose to brush out the matts. This is a job best left to a professional as an inexperienced hand or improper technique will be painful for your dog. The groomer will use some detangling conditioning spray and loosen the matt with their fingers to start with. They will then use a slicker brush or grooming comb to gently and slowly work through the matt, starting at the furthest point from the skin. Please note that our groomers will only use this option if it would not cause excessive pain and suffering to attempt to do so.

Severe Matting

If you’ve been unable to properly brush your dog all over during lockdown (this will be many owners, so please don’t be too hard on yourself)

In a lot of cases, it may be necessary to clip out the matts. If there are just a few isolated areas, the groomer may be able to just clip out the matted areas and leave the rest of the coat at the length you would prefer. This will be the best approach where matting is limited to less noticeable areas, such as the belly or inside of the legs, as the discrepancy in length will not be obvious.

If there is matting all over the body, your groomer may advise that the best option is to clip all of the coat at a shorter length to remove the matting. Although clipping off may not give the prettiest result, it can often be the kindest and most humane option for your dog and additionally allows you and your dog to have a fresh start with good grooming habits. It is possible (although not common) that your dog’s skin may suffer some irritation from clipping, so following clipping, we will bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo to soothe the skin.

About Clipping

Clipping is the most appropriate way to groom a pet that is heavily matted. We understand that this may be upsetting for owners, but please consider the following points if we advise it as the best course of action.

The hair will grow back

It’s upsetting at first to see your usually long haired dog trimmed down, but the hair will always grow back. Our groomers are experts when it comes to clipping hair and will do so in a way that it grows back problem free. Your pooch will return to their former glory in no time.

Serious matts can become a welfare issue

Although dematting hair may preserve your pet’s long hair, it can be very painful as the hair pulls on the skin. In normal times, this is not so much of an issue because the matted and knotted bits may be minimal. If there are a lot of mats and they are severe, brushing them out can be a long, painful process that will cause your pet serious discomfort and may put them off grooming for life.

In many cases, owners are keen for our groomers to dematt their pets rather than clip them off. It is one of the biggest concerns that our groomers bring to us because unless dealing with minimal matting, the brushing out of them is traumatic for both pet and groomer. We all hated having our hair brushed as little girls but I suspect when you did it yourself and got the comb stuck in your hair you’d have opted for the scissors any day! As vets, we support our groomers in upholding the standards of welfare we would choose for our own animals and those we treat on a daily basis.

You will have the opportunity to start fresh

Removing mats can be a painful process that impacts your pet’s enjoyment of grooming. Clipping the hair gives you a completely fresh start, is pain free and ensures you can keep on top of their coat as it grows back. It is often easier and safer to clip and start afresh than dematt fur that is in bad condition.

How to prevent matting in the future

The best way to prevent matts is to have a strict and structured grooming routine suitable for your dog, made up of a combination of home grooming, bathing and appointments at the salon. The exact routine will depend on the type of coat your dog has and we have created a number of guides on maintaining the different coat types which can be found here:

Please note all services are carried out at the discretion of the groomer. Matted dogs require more time to dematt and as a routine we would charge extra for this service. Following the lockdown, however, we will be waiving these fees until the 1st August 2020.

Clients must understand that in the case of matting a full groom price will still be charged although we appreciate that a partial or full clip off may not be the groom you imagined. Ultimately we have your pet’s best interest at heart.

We reserve the right to refuse to groom any pets whose owners are not able to consider the above points if applicable.