Hazards of Dematting
Always Humanity over Vanity!
Firstly, we are not here to judge you! There is no doubt that some coat types are extremely high maintenance and when taking into account the UK weather, lifestyles, time available, and the willingness of your dog to be groomed, it doesn't take long for your dog's coat to become unruly! We are here to help you and your dog take back control!
Realistically, how much time do you have available to dedicate to the grooming of your dog?
Most breeds are chosen primarily for their looks, or for their lack of shedding. For example, Bichons, Poodles & Cockerpoos don't shed which is great for your lounge, however the coat continues to grow and remains on the dog! With our busy lives, it doesn't take long for minor knots to turn into major mats.
Risks of Dematting & Shaving
As careful as we are, when using sharp implements on a moving target, there are bound to be risks involved.
We use a variety of scissors and blades that help with the removal of knots that cannot be combed out, but when the area is already sore, it is likely the dog will resist. We have to exercise extreme caution as occasionally the skin will be caught inside the knots. If the risk of injury is too high, we will always shave. This may be a decision to spot shave or to shave the coat completely.
When the decision has been made to shave, things becomes a little easier for both the dog and the groomer, but the risk of injury still exists. Clippers have to move under the matted areas which means we occasionally have to use surgical blades. The skin can become quite irritated when shaved closely, and the risk of cutting the skin increases significantly, especially if the skin is caught inside.
Aside from the risks associated with scissors and blades, there are other risks associated with removing a matted coat.
Any pre-existing wounds and sores are now more visible and your dog may lick and scratch at them, causing infections (if they aren't already infected). It is common for the skin to be irritated after being shaved, however this should settle within a few hours.
Wounds should heal well following the groom as there will be improved cleanliness and airflow, but any areas that are already infected, slow to heal, are red, hot to the touch, have an unpleasant odour or discharge, should be checked by your Vet immediately.
Where a coat has been matted for a period of time, the skin will have been pulled and in some cases, blood flow restricted. Following a matted shave, the skin can be very red and possibly bruised, which in most cases, will return to normal within a few days. However, on rare occasions, blood can overfill the tissues causing haematomas to form. This is a common problem when a dog has had severely matted ears. The dog will feel very different after the matted coat has been removed, which will cause him to shake, further exacerbating the problem. If this should happen, it is essential that you see your Vet as soon as possible!
Please note that we will never put a puppy through dematting if the problem is severe. It is not something we like to do; if your dog doesn't look good, then neither do we, but humanity has to come before vanity every time!
In extreme cases, we may advise that the coat be removed by a Veterinary Surgeon under anaesthetic.
Dematting vs Shaving
Where possible, we always try and save the coat. However there are a
number of important considerations before deciding on the best course of
How tight are the knots/mats and how close are they to the skin?
Clippers cannot cut through mats, it has to go beneath. The closer the mat to the skin, the closer the shave has to be.
Are the knots minor or are there areas of the coat that have felted?
Minor knots can usually be teased out using a variety of techniques, but when a coat has felted, there is nothing that can be done other than to shave.
How much of the coat is affected? Does it involve sensitive areas?
If a high percentage of the coat is involved, it is kinder to shave and start again. Dogs are prone to matting in sensitive areas, such as groin, armpits, behind/under the ears and chin. It is painful to have knots removed from these areas and we would usually shave.
Is the dog already in visible discomfort during the initial examination?
There is no doubt that knots and mats in the coat are extremely painful. The skin can be caught inside these areas, and could already be inflamed and possibly bruised. The dematting process will inevitably cause more discomfort.
How cooperative is the dog likely to be?
If the dog is likely to be jumping around and resisting any attempts to remove the knots, the risk of injuring the dog increases substantially. In addition, we don't want to stress the dog any more than is necessary, making future grooming problematic.
How long is it likely to take?
It's not fair to expect a dog in discomfort to spend excessive amounts of time on the table. We will work as quickly as possible to ensure stress is kept to an absolute minimum. We aim to finish a shave down, bath and dry within 90 minutes.
How committed is the owner to keeping the coat knot free in the future?
There is little point in putting a dog through the dematting process if it is likely to reoccur. It may be a better option to shave the coat and then maintain it at a more acceptable and manageable length.