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Dematting Your Dog

dematting

Many dogs have the issue of getting their hair or fur tangled. This is especially true for non-shedding dogs, e.g. Havanese, Maltese, Shih Tsu and some Terrier breeds. If it doesn’t get brushed regularly, this can result in mats. So what should you do when you realize your dog’s fur is matted?

First thing to do is assess how badly your dog’s fur is matted. Also consider the weather/season is outside. Perhaps it’s winter and you’d rather keep your dog’s hair longer for protection from the elements or if it’s summer you and your dog might be better off to take him to the groomer to have a short haircut and groom.

If you think this is something you could tackle and your dog can handle, then here are our tips and suggestions:

1. Realize it will probably take a few sessions or days to properly demat your dog’s coat. We do not recommend you try to do it all in one session. Of course your groomer will do it in one session, but that probably explains why my dog hates going to the groomer. To keep the peace with your dog, I would break up the grooming sessions.

Dematting Comb

Dematting Comb

2. Make sure you have the right tools. We recommend a dematting comb, a regular dog brush, a slicker brush and a comb (e.g. Fine/Coarse Steel Greyhound Comb). I use these various tools on my dog (a Havanese). You might also consider getting some detangling spray made for dogs.

3. Make sure you have the right treats. Some dogs are more sensitive than others. Some dogs enjoy getting groomed and others don’t. Regardless, dematting can hurt the dog at times – we’ll show you how to avoid it, but it can happen. So we recommend that you have your dog’s favorite treats on hand so you can reward him through the process.

Greyhound Comb

Greyhound Comb

4. Determine where you are going to groom your dog. I would recommend a place where your dog is comfortable, but can’t easily escape. I groom Kobi in our living room on a high countertop. He’s comfortable enough because it’s the living room, but it’s also high enough that he won’t jump down and escape.

5. Is your dog dirty? If your dog needs a bath, definitely do this before you do a dematting session. It’s going to be more work if you have to extract both dirt and hair mats. Sometimes it might be easier to try to demat your dog right after a bath, but it really depends on their fur/hair and your dog’s personality. My dog goes a bit nuts after a bath so it’s not a great time to groom him.

6. Lightly brush your dog’s coat all over his body. It might help to use some detangling spray before you brush your dog’s hair, but it really depends on your dog’s hair/fur. When you’ve completed this step, you’ll know how badly your dog is matted and where the problem spots are.

Master Grooming Tools Stainless Steel Soft Slicker Brush

Slicker Brush

7. Mentally break up your dog’s hair problem spots into various sections.
For example, with my dog I typically break up the areas I need to work on as follows:
– Ears – matted near the opening of the ear canal, but my dog loves to have his ears/ear area brushed
– Tail – less sensitive and easier to brush out because the hair is coarser
– Belly – super sensitive, but often not that matted
– Chest – can be really matted, but less sensitive than belly
– Paws – not typically that matted, but he hates to have his paws touched
– Underarms – probably not the scientific name, but hopefully you understand. This is where you’ll find a LOT of matting. Unfortunately for Kobi, this is also a sensitive area.

dog anatomy

Dog Anatomy

Your dog may have different areas that are sensitive or less sensitive or matted. Regardless, break up the list of “to do” areas – you don’t want to tackle all the sensitive areas at once.

8. Where do you start?
Some groomers and breeders state that you should start at the bottom and basically create a line in the dog’s hair and work your way up.
We find that to be really time consuming and doesn’t really take into consideration where your dog’s sensitive spots are. For example, our dog Kobi would freak out if we started at the bottom of his belly or paws which are his super sensitive areas. As such, we recommend starting where your dog is less sensitive and enjoys being brushed (for Kobi it would be his ear area).
Then mix it up between sensitive and less sensitive spots, as well as, spots that are easier to brush and more difficult.

9. How to brush / which tools to use?
Any person that has had relatively long hair will understand the golden rule that you don’t pull hair (or fur). If there is a tangle, you need to hold the hair at the root (so it doesn’t hurt) and then brush/comb through the tangle. This is also the golden rule when it comes to brushing / dematting your dog.

Dematting

spraying detangling spray on the matted area

As mentioned before, first start with an overall light brushing. Don’t force any tangles. Consider using detangling spray. Then do your mental break up of your dog’s body and problem areas and assess what would be easiest to start with.

For example, I’ll start combing Kobi’s ears with the greyhound comb using the wider prongs. When I get to a matted area, I’ll hold his hair at the roots/base and then use the dematting comb. When Kobi has relatively few tangles around his ear area, then I’ll switch to using the fine prongs on the greyhound comb and/ or the slicker brush.

Dematting

insert dematting comb into mat, hold hair at the roots and then pull away from the dog

When using the dematting comb, it’s easier to start with a smaller area of the matted fur. Hold the base of the hair and then put the prongs in the matt, sharp edges away from the dog and then pull away from the matt and your dog. If you properly hold your dog’s hair, it will not hurt them.

If it’s a really large mat, start with a smaller area of the mat using the dematting comb and intermittently use the slicker brush which will help take out the matted hair leaving you a cleaner and easier smaller mat to tackle. Remember to hold your dog’s hair at the root/base as much as possible so you don’t pull their hair/fur. To the left is an example of us taking out a mat from Bootsie – a very cute Tibetan Terrier.

10. Break up the locations on where you are grooming/brushing/combing your dog

dog grooming 3

I’m mat free now!

I typically start with Kobi’s ears and head. Next I will brush or comb his back which is sensitive but generally doesn’t have too many mats. I’ll ignore any mats that might be on his back and move on to his tail. Afterwards I’ll go back to a matted area on his body, then back to an unmated area.

In between zones, I’ll make sure to give your dog treats and verbal approval (i.e. “good dog”).

The first time you do this with your dog, you might want to set a time limit (e.g. 10 mins). You can repeat the process each day until your dog’s coat is dematted.

Top 5 Favorite Dog Shampoo Brands

earthbath dog bathThink about what goes into your shampoo shopping: What will this do for my hair? What’s in this? Does it even smell nice?

It’s the same for our furry family members. Dog shampoos tame and treat issues like dry skin, shedding and matting. Here are some of our favorite shampoo brands to check out for any dog’s needs.

1. Earthbath

There are so many pros to using Earthbath. Choose from its motto, “People tested, pet approved,” love of pets and the environment and the fact that products are phthalate, phosphate and cruelty free.

earthbath shampooOr simply choose from its line of 10 shampoos including tea tree and aloe, shed-control, eucalyptus and peppermint and a 2-in-1 conditioning mango shampoo.

All products are made in the U.S. and contain no artificial colors, fragrances or parabens, so feel free to revamp your dog’s shampoo routine with the rest of Earthbath’s conditioners, wipes, spritzes and waterless “grooming foam” collection.

 

2. Isle of Dogs

Dogs and owners will appreciate the luxury that comes out of Isle of Dogs’ spa-like shampoo and assurance that all of its products are made in the U.S.. Isle of Dogs’ mission is to make grooming enjoyable for dogs and their owners.

isle of dog shampooThat becomes easy when shampoos fighting shedding, coarse hair and thinning coats also smell like yummy apply blossom honey and a blend of jasmine and vanilla.

You can choose from 19 lines of shampoos, including one waterless foaming shampoo to freshen your pup in between washes or reinvigorate their coat. And if you go online, you can even customize a grooming routine with Isle of Dogs’ Coat Check system.

 

3. Pet Head

Pet Head, the creators of bright-and-punny hair care line Bed Head, lets you and your furry best friend share a similar brand. It gives dogs a chance to also indulge in edgy, fun products.

pethead shampooAll nine shampoos, like Life’s an Itch and Puppy Fun, come paraben free and without petroleum derivatives, propylene glycol, sulfate or DEA (diethanolamine).

They’re also pH adjusted, meaning the deshedding shampoo that smells like strawberry lemonade and spearmint lemongrass deodorizing shampoo won’t harm your dog.

 

4. EQyss

eqyss shampooEQyss’ three lines of dog shampoos are jam-packed with salon quality human formulas that leave out silicone, alcohol, oil and wax. It makes sure that your dog’s coat gets cleaned without residue. The Premier Color Intensifying Shampoo doesn’t just boost volume; it also helps coats dry almost 50 percent faster.

Flea-Bite Shampoo and Micro-Tek Medicated Pet Shampoo also soothe dry skin. If you’re not sure which line to choose, the EQyss’ site lets you search by problem area. It also shows complementary products, like a Marigold Scent Spray to rehydrate dogs – especially in the summer.

 

5. Nature’s Specialties

With more than 20 shampoo lines (and 12 specialty shampoos alone), Nature’s Specialties pinpoints any coat need and washes it away biodegradable, cruelty-free shampoos.

natures_specialtiesCitru-Mela targets hot spots and irritations like flea or tick bites with invigorating citrus, kiwi and melaleuca. For similar deep-cleaning results with a calming scent, work in Lav-N-Derm shampoo – a lavender antiseptic that doesn’t strip dogs of their natural oils.

Nature’s Specialties helps calm flaky, itchy skin, dermal inflammations and broken follicles by promoting hair growth. It doesn’t even have to stop with the company’s Sheazam shea butter shampoo; wrap up your pup’s grooming routine with conditioners, colognes or anti-itchy spray.

Top 5 Tips for Cold Dogs and Winter Weather

cold dog yorkie

Geez – I’m cold!

It’s freezing across the country and most people are huddled up inside. So what should we do with our dogs? Clearly they still need exercise and have to “do business”, so when is it too cold for them?

1. Identify Your Dog’s Susceptibility

There are many different factors in determining a dog’s resistance to cold. According to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The animal’s ability to tolerate really cold weather depends on age, nutritional status, health and coat density.”

cold dog - husky

This Freezing Weather Is Awesome!!!

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has stated “it is clinically accepted that indoor pets that are not acclimated to cold weather should not be left outside when the average daily temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dogs that tend to do well in the cold include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Chow Chows.

Dogs that are more susceptible to the cold are toy dogs (e.g. Yorkies) and dogs without hair (i.e. Chinese Crested) or do not have thick coats (e.g. Greyhounds).

If your dog is a puppy, very old or sick, you might want to consider using an Indoor Dog Potty while the temperature is below 45 degrees.

2. Know the Signs of a Cold Dog

If your dog is shivering, whining, stops moving, starts looking for warm places to burrow or is in a curled position, it is probably too cold. When the weather is severely cold, take shorter walks. Don’t try to take your dog on the same length walks as during warmer weather. A shorter walk can still accomplish enough exercise and relief breaks without causing your dog (and you) to become too cold.
In regards to dogs that spend more time outside in the winter, according to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The dogs that are not doing well will have ice on their fur. It indicates that they are losing enough body heat to melt the snow. Because their coat is not insulating well more ice will build up making the hair less lofty and less insulating.”

3. Get a Dog Coat and/or Dog Boots

dog coatSweaters and Dog Coats can keep your pets warm. Make sure they fit correctly. They shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. Using a dog coat with good under carriage coverage will be very helpful for dogs with longer coats that more easily collect ice on their fur.

Dog boots and paw protectants (e.g. Musher’s) can protect your dog’s paws from the cold and salt. After a walk outside, check to make sure any salt or antifreeze products are removed from paws or fur. To remove any snow from a dog’s coat, use a towel or hairdryer.

Let's Play Indoors!

Let’s Play Indoors!

4. Play Indoors

If it’s too cold for your dog outside, then make sure to spend more play time with your dog indoors. If your dog is a fan of fetch – this is probably really easy – just keep throwing a ball down a hallway. My dog isn’t a super fan of fetch, but if I do it with treats, he’s happy to play fetch indoors.

You can try teaching your dog tricks or play some of their other favorite games to keep them active during the winter. If they need more exercise, consider organizing a doggy play date or taking your dog to a doggie daycare so they can play with other dogs.

5. Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

If your dog is spending a lot of time outside (e.g. they’re a Siberian Husky), then you probably need to increase their food consumption.

If your dog is spending more time indoors, you probably need to somewhat reduce their food intact.

See our article on: How to Check If Your Dog is Overweight

Safe Paw Ice Melter – a Pawfect Solution

safe paw ice melterRock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infections and blistering on your dog’s paws. Toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog when he licks his paws. So many dogs are wearing dog boots because of the salt used to melt the ice on the sidewalks, paths and roads. However, a lot of our dogs don’t like or won’t wear dog boots.

We recently came across this product and thought “what a great solution”! Wouldn’t it be great if we all used a Safe Paw Ice Melter. While your city might not spend the money to purchase this, at least you can make it better on your own property (or where you have real estate influence). According to Gaia Enterprises, Safe Paw Ice Melter is 100% salt-free and is guaranteed to be pet and child safe.

How Safe Paw Ice Melter Works

Safe Paw ice melterSafe Paw’s pellets are green to make it easy to distinguish it from rock salt and salt-based ice melters. Safe Paw Ice Melter is a dual-effect compound made of a modified crystalline amide core infused with special glycol admixture and traction agents. This composition gives Safe Paw a two-way timed released action. The liquid component starts melting ice instantly while breaking surface tension. This allows the crystal-core to penetrate and destabilize ice which speeds up melting and the traction agent provides slip protection.

safe pawsWe were surprised to read that unlike other products, Safe Paw attracts solar heat to provide extra melting-power during daylight hours.

Once Safe Paw has melted the ice and snow, it leaves an invisible shield that prevents ice from sticking to surfaces for up to 3 days. Apparently, this teflon effect makes shoveling easier.

Stay warm and good luck with the snow storms!