I am going to start this post with a disclaimer. :)
** The methods shown in the photos below are preformed by a Professional Groomer. DO NOT attempt to preform these actions at home. Take a matted dog the a Professional Groomer to have the mats safely removed.
This very sweet, little, 18 month old Morkie came in to me yesterday.
This was her second grooming.
Her owners had been attempting to groom her at home.
They had already cut some of the mats out of her legs.
She also had some matting in her ears, tail and a little on her body.
The problem was going to be safely removing the hard, tight mats that were wrapped around the lower part of each leg.
What Would You Do?
Those of you that follow my blog most likely are sure that I put this dog right in the tub.
Well, I will admit that I was torn.
I wanted to get these hard, tight mats off of this sweet little thing as soon as possible, but I wanted to do it safely, and I did not want to have to fight a blade through the mat if I could help it.
So, I put her on my table and accessed the situation.
I could see places where her skin was already red and sore from the mats and from where the owners had already removed mats.
I was also concerned with how this little one was going to react to having blades run down her legs.
There is a big difference when running a blade down a leg that has no matting, and fighting a blade through the tight matting on the leg.
It did not help either that this dog had very fragile, thin, boney legs.
What did I do?
You were right....I decided to bathe her first.
For those of you that are yelling at your computer screens right now.
I know that there are a lot of groomers out there that believe all matting should be removed before the bath, especially tight, dirty mats like these.
I did give it a thought...really I did.
In the end I felt that bathing her first was the best thing.
Here are my reasons why:
1~ the mats were so dirty, that I knew my blades would heat up fast and dull quickly trying the fight their way through.
2~ there was no air space between the matting and the skin, meaning that I would have to use a #10 or #15 to fight through the mats, leaving more of a chance of clipper irritation.
3~ I was sure that as I washed the mats, I could move them away from the skin, at least a little bit. Just enough to safely get a blade under the matting.
Lastly, I followed my instincts.
She was not only matted and dirty, but her hair was very greasy also.
The first shampoo that I used on her was Joy®.
I used it to cut through the dirt and grease.
I picked up each leg and really worked the soap into the matting and gently worked the mats away from the skin.
The mats didn't loosen up much, but they loosened up enough, that I was sure that I could get a #7F safely between the mat and skin..
Once I had the mats loosened into several large lumps of mats on each leg, I cut off some of the big, heavy hunks.
*Notice in the picture that my fingers are between the mat and the dogs leg.
I want there to be NO chance of cutting more than just matting.
My fingers will get cut before the dog.
One of the mats on a back leg was pulling the skin on the shin, because the matting on the shin was attached to the matting on the foot.
This was causing the dog pain every time she took a step.
Now she could move that leg without the skin being pulled.
She was so absolutely sweet, and still for her entire bath.
After rinsing the Joy® off, and squeezing the dirty water and soap out of the mats, I bathed her in a clarifying shampoo and rinsed that.
By now there was no longer any dirty water coming from the mats.
Her finial bath was with a soothing Medicated shampoo that I let her soak in for awhile.
I finished up her bath by making sure that the hair between the matting and her skin was rinsed really well, then I gave her a Baking Soda Rinse.
The HV dryer moved the mats a tiny bit more, but not much.
Now, I am going to pause here, because what I am going to show next SHOULD NOT be done by anyone other than a Professional Groomer. Even then, that groomer better be sure that they know exactly what they are doing.
I have personally seen a groomer slice a dogs leg open by carelessly using this method of removing mats.
So why am I showing this method of removing mats?
Believe me, I almost decided not to show this step of mat removal, but the more that I though about it, when done carefully, this method does help greatly when trying to remove mats that are wrapped tightly around a dogs leg, with little to no air space to get a blade through.
Most groomers out there split mats with their scissors when dematting, or clipping mats off of a dog with no problems.
Splitting tight, cast type mats that are wrapped around a leg can be extremely dangerous, for both groomer and the dog.
You must, must, must be careful to make absolutely sure that you are not pulling the skin up with the mat into the scissors.
The first thing that I do is wiggle two of my fingers (my thumb and index finger) under the mat.
My goal is to make a hole (air space) going from the top of the mat to the bottom of the mat.
I want to make an opening that my index finger will fit into.
Once I have gotten that hole, and my finger is protecting the skin, I slide the point of my scissors up into the hole, between my finger and the mat.
The scissors are never touching the skin, only my finger.
The tight mat that was wrapped around the leg is now free on one side and I am now able to get my blade under it.
I use the corner of my blade (the corner few teeth) to slowly work the blade under the mat.
I am going to be a pain and go over this one more time. :)
Can you tell that I am paranoid?
Make an air space (hole) under the mat.
Slide your finger down into the hole.
Slide your scissors under the mat and on top of your finger.
Then very slowly cut through the mat, making sure that you are only cutting mat.
Always be prepared to stop and remove the scissors if the dog moves.
You can never be too careful!!
This sweet little lady just laid still on my table while I split the mats.
She did not move.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the clipping.
As soon as I turned on the clipper she freaked out.
If she had not been matted, she would have been a dog that I scissor the legs on.
After a lot of talking, stopping, calming her down, I got the mats off of the first leg.
By the time I got to the third leg she was calm again and I think that she realized that I was trying to help her.
These are the mats that were on each leg.
I was able to use a #7F blade to remove these mats.
It took me 22 minutes to remove these mats.
I truly feel that it would have taken longer to clip the dirty mats off before the bath.
Even though I had to clip her legs with a #7F, I decided to use a #4F on her back and blend it into her legs.
I rounded up her face and left her ears.
The owners left the ears up to me.
I am the one that decided to leave them long.
I felt like those long ears were her part of her personality.
I talked to the owners and tried to very tactfully explain to them how much the mats hurt their dog, and the damage that mats could cause.
I don't believe in yelling at an owner for the condition of their dog.
That will not help the dog.
I educate them.
I help them learn how to take care of their dog and hopefully not let this happen again.
It is amazing how many pet owners truly don't think that matted hair hurts their dogs.
I have gotten some really great, regular, long time customers from owners who first came to me with a solidly matted dog.
They just needed someone to take the time to educate them, without yelling at them, or putting them down.
This dogs owner made another appointment for 8 weeks.
I am praying that she will keep it.:)
✂ Happy Grooming, MFF ✂