By Sue Matthews

All dogs require regular brushing in order to keep their coats healthy and untangled. If you can imagine how your head might feel if you didn't brush your own hair for a few days, you'll have a small idea of how important regular brushing is for your companion animals too.

For some breeds, daily brushing is recommended. Long haired breeds and double coated breeds obviously tangle and mat more that a slick coated dog, and because of this, they need to have their coats properly cared for, especially if you want to keep the length the breed is known for.

A matted coat causes numerous problems for your dog. First, it's terribly uncomfortable because as the hair mats tighter and tighter, it pulls on the surrounding skin. If mats are left untended, the skin can actually split and get infected. A matted dog who gets wet outside in the rain for instance may end up molding before the mats finally dry, or may get a fungus infection on his skin. These are uncomfortable for the dog of course, and uncomfortable for your wallet when you have to take him to your veterinarian for treatment. Matted dogs can also end up with maggots on their skin that literally eat the dog's flesh under the mats ... another costly problem for you to have treated, not to mention terribly painful for the dog.

De-matting a dog is not pleasent for the dog or the groomer. Since it's not likely that the dog is used to grooming (otherwise he would not be matted in the first place, right?), he is not usually cooperative to begin with. To de-mat a dog, a groomer has to pick apart the mats with a comb or special tool, and this sometimes necessitates pulling the hair. Uncooperative dogs do not tolerate this pulling very well. It's stressful for them, and can be painful too if their skin is taut beneath the mats. Stressed dogs may bite, and this presents a danger to the groomer. We may have to muzzle your dog for safety, and this unfortunately can increase the dog's stress.

De-matting is also expensive for the owner. Since it requires so much more additional time, any de-matting is charged for separately from regular grooming services at $___ per hour.

If your dog is matted when you arrive for an appointment, we will be happy to explain other options. Often the best solution for the dog is to simply clip the coat and gently remove the mats. If you wish to regrow the coat after clipping, we can suggest ways that you can prevent future matting.

Obviously it's best to prevent matting in the first place and that's easy to do with regular brushing. Your professional groomer will be happy to recommend a schedule for you, and suggest appropriate grooming tools. If you're not able to keep up with the recommended brushing, there are several other options:

1. Many breeds can be trimmed into a "utility cut" that is shorter than the usual length, but still looks nice and is easier to care for between professional groomings. You'll still need to brush your dog of course, but it will generally be easier for you, and less time consuming.

2. You can make appointments to bring your dog in more frequently for professional grooming. Our shop offers special discounts for owners who bring their dogs in on a regular schedule. Ask your professional groomer for information about the special pricing. Your dog may not always need a bath and full groom, but by bringing him in for a regular "brush out only" between groomings, you'll avoid more costly dematting and more importantly you'll avoid unnecessary stress and health problems for your dog.

1996 Sue Matthews....EMail: IMChattin@AOL.COM