Luckily a tangled pet does not always need to be clipped short. There are ways of brushing them out without causing them pain and discomfort if they’re not too far gone. Sometimes it’s more humane to give them a “smoothie”. A very short clip, or a euphemism for what we groomers call a “strip” or shave.
Some pets have just had a poor grooming last time, and a little TLC can get them up and running again. I know there are those who don’t understand, but animal people know that their friends can tell when they look good, and when they don’t. A well groomed pet knows it when he feels it! And they appreciate loving, professional care by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Unfortunately, mostly due to backyard breeding, many pets these days are prone to allergic reactions, among other health issues. It can be hard to pin down exactly what is causing the problem, and vets can recommend special shampoos, and short clips. One of the groomer’s jobs is to let you know when it’s time to call the vet, and advise you of the options you have to take control of the situation if a veterinary visit isn’t warranted yet.
The absolute only way to make sure your pets never need to be shaved is to keep them brushed out. Pets who are very active, and pets who are old, pets who are ill, or have skin conditions should be kept short anyway unless you are an active brusher.
NEVER bathe a pet without making sure you have every-single-tangle out of their coat by the time they are dry! If tangles are left in the coat, they will become what we call mats, which is exactly what they sound like. You know how your front door mat, or your rug, or your carpet is made? That is pretty much what happens when tangles are left in an animal’s coat. Getting the coat wet, working the shampoo in, just tangles it more. As the coat dries the tangles contract and form tight-knit communities. These are called matts. Many owner call them “knots”, “tangles”, “furballs”, etc…
But matts do not just occur around the “problem” areas, i.e. rump, collar, underarm, behind the ears. By far, the most common place I find matting is between the pads. Owners may forget that long coated breeds don’t just grow hair on their bodies, but between the pads and toes. Pets can pick up debris in their feet as well as the rest of the coat which can be very painful and lead to matting, so a regular check of the feet is also recommended. Each time the pet goes out the potential for matting increases, especially if the area they have romped in is wet. When tangled hair dries, it contracts, and if there is anything in the way it will wrap around it.
The average pet owner can’t even tell when their pet is matted. It can feel like the tangles have gone away, when what has really happened is that they have migrated closer to the skin or merged with other tangles. That is the definition of a matt.
As they become tighter and closer to the skin, they can pull on it, potentially making sores and causing skin problems. The number one reason I end up stripping pets is because a well meaning owner has bathed their pet thinking they are doing it a favor when really all the animal needs is a good brushing out.
Brushing keeps the coat clean, promotes air circulation, reduces shedding, and allows the essential oils to migrate from the skin through the coat, keeping it healthy and shiny.
Oh, and clean the ears and brush the teeth. This will also cut down on odor.
There are some photos which will illustrate what I’ve been writing about on the next page There are also photos to help you identify a well groomed dog from one who has had a hack-job. Now I’ll get off my soap box. Enjoy!