If your double-coated dog has gotten into something, or if you've been a bit lax combing your pet, Shep or Suzie will most likely have mats. Mats are not only uncomfortable but unhealthy as well. Your dog can suffer from hot spots or other skin conditions under that matted fur.
If your dog's coat is heavily matted -- more than a couple of tangles -- seek help from a professional groomer or a veterinarian. Do not attempt to cut the mat away with scissors -- mats can actually pull the skin into them, and you can easily cut your dog's skin, thus having a real emergency. Keep the scissors in the drawer and seek professional help. Further, avoid bathing a dog with tangles. Bathing only causes the tangles to become worse, and you may need to have a groomer shave your dog.
You need several tools for the job, including a V-rake intended to pick at the mat and carefully detangle it. Two other useful tools to have on hand including a dematting comb and a curved heavy-duty slicker brush. Both will help you remove tangles easily.
You can remove smaller tangles with the curved slicker brush by brushing against the lay of the hair and then brushing the hair back in place. If your slicker brush reaches snags, try teasing the tangles out with short, quick strokes. In many cases, slicker brushes can remove the tangles without resorting to the V-rake.
You can detangle your dog's hair with the V-rake by gently lifting up the hair above the tangle or mat, exposing it. Applied with short, quick motions, the V-rake is designed to pick apart the tangle and loosen the hair. It does not damage the coat and causes the least pain. Once you are through the tangle, run a dog comb through the area to confirm you got rid of all the tangles. If you didn't, pick apart the problem areas again with the V-rake.
A dematting or matting comb features straight metal teeth intended to withstand tough tangles in hair. Dematting rakes are the same type of comb but attached to a handle to give you more grip on the tool. The dematting comb breaks apart mats and tangles quickly, but larger tangles may need work with a V-rake or the slicker brush. Run the comb against the lay of the hair and then comb the hair back in its normal position.
- The All Breed Dog Grooming Guide; Sam Kohl
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