Pet Grooming: Mats, Tangles and Daily Maintenance


One of the biggest problems I see pets owners face when it comes to grooming their pets has to be dealing with the tangled coats of their long-coated breeds. Given everybody’s busy schedule, what can we do? While I’m in no position to teach people how to manage their time (I think even the worst time managers can teach me a thing or two), I’m able to offer some advice on how to minimize the problem and make it less painful for you and your furry ones.

But what causes those tangles in the first place? Luckily, it’s not as mysterious as how earphones play boy scout knots in your pockets, and there are only four factors:

  1. Moisture
  2. Pressure
  3. Dirt
  4. Friction

The one thing advertising is right about

dog hair under microscope

I believe you’ve seen TV commercials for shampoos and hair treatment products, and they’ll show you the difference between damaged hair and healthy hair under the microscope. If you haven’t, imagine that our hairs are covered with fish scales, all pointing towards the tip (the fish head is at the scalp, and the tail is the tip). So the dog and human hair alike, when the hair shaft is exposed to the elements, will open up, creating barbs, and with a combination of the aforementioned factors, the coat sticks to each other, very much like Velcro fasteners.

Now recall the places where tangle usually forms on your pet:

  • Is it because it has not been dried thoroughly after the coat got wet (Moisture)? e.g., The overall body, feet, beard, and paw pads.
  • Does it form in places where it has contact with resting surfaces (Pressure)? e.g., Neck, four legs.
  • Easily soiled areas (Dirt)? e.g., beards, legs, between the legs.
  • Or does it occur in places where hair rubs against each other or other objects often (Friction)?

Friction is everywhere. This is usually the main culprit that brings all the factors together and makes it worse (it’s also the main reason your earphones get tangled in your bag). Therefore, it is imperative that your pet gets a good brush every other day to prevent mats from forming, paying extra attention to the inside of the legs, armpits, behind the ears, and neck. These are usually the areas where tangles form quickly, as well as areas we tend to neglect when grooming.

It’s too late…

So, if you are reading this but your pet is already in bad shape, what can you do?

Well, if it’s really in bad shape, please, have it groomed and use this opportunity to let you and your pet get accustomed to frequent grooming. More importantly, de-matting the pet is a very uncomfortable process. Always put humanity over vanity.

But if it’s only a 2-3 knots here and there, you could do the following:

  1. I would suggest getting a bottle of de-tangling spray from your pet store.
  2. Spray the matted areas and let it sit for half an hour.
  3. Try to loosen the mat with your fingers, separating it in all directions.
  4. Use a slicker brush and brush in all directions. Use small strokes to minimize damage to the hair and skin.
  5. It’s going to take a while, so be patient.
  6. Prevention is better than cure. Brush your pet every other day.


With the proper technique, your pet can maintain the straight look of a magazine every day. It’s not that difficult!

What you’ll need:

  1. Brushes (Pin brush for long coats >8cm. Slicker brush for coats between 1-8cm. Any shorter, use a grooming glove or curry brush, and that’s all you need.)
  2. Metal comb (Choose a medium to wide-toothed)
  3. Spray bottle filled with water (If you feel your pet deserves better, get a grooming spray, preferably something lightly scented or fragrance-free. I use Fabulous Grooming Spray from #1 All Systems. If your pet is suffering from skin problems, you can add a little of Zymox enzymatic rinse or Rejuvenating Bath from Chitocure into filtered/distilled water and use it as a grooming spray.)

The how:

  1. Lightly spritz the coat. Making the coat slightly damp will help reduce static friction while brushing.
  2. Using one hand to control their limbs and body, hold the brush with the other hand. If you’re using a slicker brush, make sure the face of the brush is parallel to the skin to minimize abrasion. If your pet struggles, make sure you communicate what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Reward and reprimand accordingly.
  3. Brush against the lay of the coat, using short bouncy strokes rather than one long pull. This will help reduce friction and prevent you from using too much force. The section of the coat is completed when you feel no resistance from the brush.
  4. Note that you should brush the coating layer by layer, using your hand to hold down part of the coat and only moving on when one section is completed. This ensures that the whole body and the entire length of the hair are covered.
  5. If you find a sizeable mat, follow the aforementioned instructions.
  6. Finally, go through the whole body with the metal comb. If the comb gets stuck (Girls would get this. Hurts, doesn’t it?), comb out the tangle, then check with the comb again.
  7. You’re done, and great job.

Well, the whole thing sounds long because I want to get into the details of it. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll do everything like it’s second nature. Besides, it’s just brushing. It’s really not that hard.

Anyways, I’ll try to do an instructional video soon. It’s tough visualizing instructions like these, isn’t it? Everybody has their interpretation, right?

So if you have any tips, questions, or thoughts, please comment below!

Pet Grooming: The Never Ending Struggle With Ticks

In Singapore, ticks are just like mosquitoes. Even as the weather turns cooler, I’ve still been getting a lot of complaints about ticks lately. Inevitably, I’ve brought a few home from the grooming shop and passed it on to my poor dogs.


Some of you who bring your dogs out for daily walks may often find ticks on them and you may have chosen monthly spot-on treatments as a form of convenient solution. However, based on personal experiences and feedback from customers, it’s effectiveness

on subsequent applications is questionable. Why? I really do not know and neither have I found any answers online. Instead of answers, I found more people complaining about the same problem on the internet.

Bio-X d-Bug Flea & Tick Spray

What I have realised that works though, is using sprays and switching around brands often. Although I do not know why spray works better, but it may be possible that some factors may be preventing spot on treatment to spread evenly throughout the body. So the most obvious advantage of using sprays is that you can make sure that the whole body is evenly treated. Secondly, be it sprays or spot on, the effects do wear out. So with sprays, you are able to give the protection a boost when ever needed with just a spritz here and there.

Resistance is Futile

It could be that some sort of resistance has been formed that made spot on treatments less effective as it should be. Also, I’ve experienced scenarios where I applied the spot on and the same brand of spray a week later, the spray did not work as effectively as before. Luckily, I had another brand of flea and tick spray with me and it worked quite well in the end.

Apart from having a different brand, it’s useful to note that you should have different active ingredients as well. Try switching around Fipronil, permethrins, Pyrethrins, as well as natural alternatives like Etofenprox. Neem and eucalyptus are more of a preventive measure than an insecticide. But if you have the patience and is meticulous enough to give your dog thorough checks, then of course I would recommend using natural alternatives.

I Will Find You, And I Will Kill You

Even after applying flea and tick products, it is still necessary to give your pets a thorough check to remove any dead creepers as well as to see if there’re still any live ones. It would really help if you pet has a short coat. If it doesn’t, I would recommend you bring it to a pet a stylist and get it trimmed short for ease of checking. Don’t give yourself too much credit for being meticulous. I even have problems finding those pesky ticks on my Maltese.  The animals’ health should be of top priority and it’s looks should come later.

If there’s really a lot of ticks on the body, you may request your pet groomer to remove the ticks for a charge. Just make sure the services includes the physical removal of the ticks rather than just soaking your poor dog in a chemical dip and just letting the ticks die attached to Fido. Worse still, sometimes they wouldn’t even die.

As a word of caution, do not let your pet groomer charge you by the number of ticks removed. It’s a good indication that the groomer is a rip-off. Charges for a small dog is usually $20-$30, maybe $40 tops (rarely), if the condition is really bad.

How to remove them

how to remove a tickOther than keeping a keen eye during daily grooming sessions, a particularly good time to groom for ticks is after bathing your dog and its body is still wet. The coat would stick would stick together and close to the skin, giving you a better view of the skin. If your dog’s coat is just a centimeter long, you can use a flea comb and by placing it almost flat against the dog’s skin, comb against the lay of the coat. Remove any ticks you have found on the flea comb with sticky tape.

Otherwise, you can use a strong hair dryer, set it to cool and use it to part the dog’s hair. Remove the tick  by holding the tick at the mouth and pulling straight up. Squeezing the tick or killing it whilst on the skin will risk releasing toxins and pathogens into your pet.

If you do find baby ticks crawling around your house, try to find where they hatched. But unfortunately, fogging your house is usually the solution.

Prevention is better than cure

Ticks usually wait on grasses for animals to pass by and latch on them. But I also have owners who let their pets roam around without having any tick problems. Similarly, I have also found that there are areas around my house where my dog commonly get ticks from. After I change the walking route, my dogs seldom got ticks any more.

For topical prevention, mix water, a few drops of dog shampoo, neem oil and eucalyptus oil into a bottle and apply over their body. Towel lightly and dry them as usual. This method usually lasts two days tops.

Remember, keep your pets away from grass, apply flea and tick spray every 3-4 days and check everyday.

If you find this article useful, please share it and if you like us particular grooming tips, please share them in the comments below!