In the wintertime, the forced air heating has a tendency to remove moisture from the home. It will cause our hair and skin to dry out and does the same for our pets. I love grooming the drop coated dogs, shih tzu's, maltese, yorkies and such. It is a special joy when the pet parents comb them regularly! A few days ago I was talking to a parent who was becoming increasingly frustrated by the discovery of tangles in her little maltese. She assured me that she was combing her dog at least 3-4 times a week. I know that this was a true statement because the tangles and matts were in familiar places like: the dreaded arm-pit, behind the ears, and the legs. We went into her bathroom, shut off the light and I rubbed my hand back and forth or the dog's coat, and the blue sparks began to fly! A dog with a very fine coat walking around in a carpeted home, or if he lays on the sofa, pet bed or any type of fabric starts to build a relationship with the two characters I like to call Tangle and Matt.
Tangle is the introductory guy. He starts off slow, maybe doing the tango with a couple of hairs behind the ears,in the arm pit and around the rump. He uses the static electricity to draw his partners closer together in an unsuspecting way. He allows you do think that the hair is smooth and silky, when all the while he is playing a silent game of twister. Let's say you catch him at his little game behind the ear and at the rump. He is relentless! The next day he will be back to his old tricks. Now let's introduce the music to the festival......water. Whether it is snow or rain, tangle's new dance partner is now locking those hairs together and forming a new guy.....matt.
Matt is a little more intense than tangle. Tangle can easily be brushed/combed out with little or no effort, but matt he is going to make you work! Matt is now locking the hairs that tangle brought together, and using water as the glue to keep their relationship from breaking up. Matt is the guy who will fool you on the surface, making you think that your pet's hair is nice smooth when it is actually clumping underneath. Matt requires a little more force to end his dancing game. If the comb stops in the coat while combing....guess what? Matt is definitely paying a visit! Matt has different levels of intensity, just like some insane work out. There is the beginning matt or "Love Matts." Love matts can be caused by allowing tangle to hang around too long, or by missing a week or two of combing. It can also be caused by excessive rubbing. You know the way you like to jumble fluffy's hair every time you see his little cute face? Well tangle is using his dance partner static to bring his partners closer together faster. The moisture,warmth and oils from your hands spins matt on to the dance floor, but if they are caught in time. You can break their relationship up with the least amount of effort.
Bath Matt- OOOHHHHHHH he can be a NASTY one! This where most of your major problems will begin! Let's say Tangle and Love Matt has gotten together, and your little sweetie pie has decided to step in, roll around in something.....OR....just gotten a dash of that ever pungent perfume from that strange looking black and white kitty that wandered in the yard. Let's say.....you can't get an appointment with your regular groomer, so you decided to wash Fluffy your self. As you are washing you begin to notice small clusters of lumped hair....that is the new character.....Bath Matt. He is taking love to a whole new game! As the clumps dry, they begin to tighten forming a web of knots that have become even more difficult to comb out. If they can be combed out at all. If not caught early, bath matt can break and damage Fluffy's coat. Depending on the amount of bath matt Fluffy has, your groomer may suggest shaving the coat off and starting over to save your pet from a painful and expensive de-matting process.
This last guy is a REAL stinker! His name is Hard Rocky Matt. I don't like him at all!! He is a very serious problem. What has happened is bath matt, has been getting wet over and over again. Now all of the matts have joined one big gang and made a suit of matted armor on Fluffy. Fluffy is now nappy, and everything on his body from his ears to rear-end and ankles are connected. The Hard Rocky Matt suit is now keeping heat and moisture next to Fluffy's skin that can set up different types of bacteria. It will cause your pet to overheat and the warm summer months and freeze in the winter(no matter how thick the hair is). It sets up a breeding ground for parasites like fleas, who can live in the matted coat and feed on your pet at will. It also sets up a nesting place for flies to lay eggs in the matts where maggots can develop to literally eat your pet alive. Hard Rocky Matt twists Fluffy's coat so tight that it literally rips the hair out of the follicle every time he moves. Your once happy bouncy four legged bundle of joy is now snappy and grumpy because every time he moves it hurts. At this point, there is no other option. Your groomer will have to shave the coat down to the skin, and free Fluffy from the Hard Rocky Matt suit. The best way to prevent your pet meeting this nasty character starts this way:
Keep Fluffy on a regular grooming schedule with a professional groomer(whether mobile, stationary or vet's office). Depending on how long or short you like the coat, your schedule could range between 2 to 5 weeks. The longer the coat, the more often Fluffy will have to be groomed.
Combing Fluffy with a fine tooth metal comb often (at least 3-4 times per week). You will chase away that sneaky guy Tangle before he can start his little tricks. If your pet has very fine hair try spraying some coat detangler on the comb(not the pet) shake off the excess liquid and comb thru the pet's coat. Too much detangler on the coat can work against you and cause your minor tangles to turn into a matt. In addition, it can weigh the coat down and make it too oily.
Your overall objective is to break up that relationship between Tangle and Matt, otherwise it will be a marriage that could cost you plenty!!