Dog Shedding and Grooming
Mats are solid clumps of fur that can form anywhere on the body but are
usually found behind the ears, in the folds of the armpits, around the anus, on
the backs of the thighs, in the groin area, and between the toes. Mats are
evidence of neglected grooming or grooming with the wrong tools. Dogs with
softer hair are more prone to develop mats.
To remove mats, first saturate the clumps of hair with coat conditioner for
several minutes. This rehydrates the hair and closes the barbs. Then separate
as much of the mat as you can with your fingers.
Some mats can be removed with the tip of a comb. However, most require the
use of scissors, an electric clipper, or a mat splitter. Cutting into mats with
scissors must be done with extreme care, because a dog’s skin is not attached
to the underlying muscle and tents up as the mat is pulled. Do not slide the
scissors beneath the mat and attempt to remove it flush with the skin. You will
almost certainly remove a piece of skin. When possible, slide a comb beneath
the mat as a barrier between the scissors and the skin. Then hold the scissors
perpendicular to the comb and carefully snip into the fur ball in narrow
strips. Similar care must be taken with electric clippers. Tease the mat out
gently. After the mat has been removed, comb out residual snarls.
This technique also works for removing burdocks and tangled plant material.
Nonstick cooking sprays may help to ease the plant material out of the hair
without cutting any coat.
To remove gum, put an ice cube on the gum first, then try to slide it off.
If that doesn’t work, you will need to carefully cut it out.