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:
The one thing advertising is right about
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:
- I would suggest getting a bottle of de-tangling spray from your pet store.
- Spray the matted areas and let it sit for half an hour.
- Try to loosen the mat with your fingers, separating it in all directions.
- Use a slicker brush and brush in all directions. Use small strokes to minimize damage to the hair and skin.
- It’s going to take a while, so be patient.
- 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:
- 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.)
- Metal comb (Choose a medium to wide-toothed)
- 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.)
- Lightly spritz the coat. Making the coat slightly damp will help reduce static friction while brushing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you find a sizeable mat, follow the aforementioned instructions.
- 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.
- 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!