Tips On Keeping Your Pet Free From Matts (Knots)
“I brush my dog regularly but he/she still has matting!” This is something we hear regularly in our industry and we’ve written this article to help you, as a pet owner, to ensure you have all the knowledge necessary to keep your pooch free of knots.
How do knots form? In a lot of cases it can be caused by lack of brushing, a build up of dead/loose hair, improper brushing, leaving your pets coat wet and tangled, from a collar or leaving a jacket/clothing on your pet.
Firstly, what is matting and why is it an issue? Matting is essentially knots. Matts can vary in severity depending on how long the knots have been forming. Sometimes we see a simple knot behind the ear and in other case a dog may be covered in knots from head to tail. Most matting will need to be professionally shaved out, if the area is isolated to a small section or is not too far gone (ie not densely matted) sometimes the knots can be brushed out.
Knots/matts are more than just a ‘knot,’ they can cause issues that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The matted coat is essentially pulling at the skin, in some cases it may affect your dogs mobility; for example if the matt is in the armpit it can be pulling from the top of the inside of the dogs leg to the chest. It can be quite uncomfortable for your pet and once released a rash may appear or the skin can become quite itchy.
The pulling of the skin can also cause a lack of blood flood to the surface of the skin. This is especially important to keep in mind when it occurs on the ears, the blood becomes stagnant and pools, becoming thick and possibly toxic causing a hematoma. When the matt is removed sometimes the ear can bleed due to a rush of blood coming back into the ear, the pressure on the already weakened tissue can break and split the skin. In most cases the pet will need veterinary attention to drain the area.
Now that we understand the importance of avoiding knots we’ll talk about some tips about how to avoid them. Different breeds need different schedules of brushing and a ‘regular’ brush for one breed may be once a week, whereas for another breed brushing a frequently as daily may be required. Most pets need to be brushed daily, if you're finding matts it may be a sign that brushing your pet a couple of times a week is not enough.
One of the best tips to successful brushing at home is to use both a brush and a comb. A slicker brush is a great way to start off, ensuring to brush gently as brushing too firmly can irritate your pets skin. For those with longer coats the aim is to brush all of the coat not just the hair that you can see on top, start by brushing the hair that lays on top, then lift up and brush the next layer, lift up more hair and brush. Continue doing this until you have brushed all of the coat out, this technique is called “line brushing.” The next step is an important one and something that many pet owners may not do, go through the entire coat with a fine tooth comb. By doing so you’ll identify any of the smaller knots that may not have been picked up with the brush.
Where are the most common areas that we see matting? On the ears, behind the ears, the chest, stomach, armpits and tail. So make sure each time you’re brushing your pet that these areas are double checked.
Recap on tips
Brush with a slicker brush first
For dogs with a long or double coat use the “line brushing” technique
Once brushed, go through the coat with a fine tooth comb
Don’t forget the commonly missed areas! Ears, behind the ears, the chest, stomach, armpits and tail!
Happy brushing and if you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment if you’re having any difficulty with any upkeep at home :)