How to keep your dog from getting matted in the snow.
Here are some simple solutions that work.
Winter is a great time to watch your dog romp around in the snow. Watching them play and tunnel in the powder brings joy to the hearts of owners and non-owners alike! But when it’s grooming time –it’s not so joyful! The snow creates iceballs which can wreak havoc on your dog’s fur and skin – and stress the relationship between you, your groomer and your dog. Most people are not aware of the matting that happens in the snow as it starts on the skin’s surface. It can be very severe without appearing as such. Many owners do not know how to brush their dog’s coat effectively; they only know how to brush the surface hair, all the while the mattes are winding tighter and tighter underneath. For these owners, it’s understandable that both choices they are presented with during the next trip to the groomers is not welcome news: torturing the dog to rip the mattes out or stripping the dog naked during the winter – both being a threat to the physical or emotional state of the dog. Finding a way to let your dog enjoy the snow without ruining their coat is an easy task if you have a brush, a comb, and a little knowledge about timing.
There are two ways to melt the snowballs out of dog’s fur after they come indoors. Let the fur melt on it’s own, or wash the ice out with warm water (using a tub, sink, or large pail). Both options leave mattes if you don’t complete one third step – brush and/or comb the wet area all the way to the skin. If you can’t get a comb through your dog’s hair after the snowballs melt, your groomer can’t either. If you use water to melt the dogs’ fur, you can add a doggie moisturizer to the water or spray bottle to condition the coat, making brushing easier on everyone.
It’s not a fun job, but if owners spend just a few moments brushing the dog’s affected areas at home, they will be much happier with their winter grooming results. Timing is crucial, brush or comb the dog before the dog gets wet again. This way the brushing will always remain easy and painfree. Dreadlocks are created by repeated washings (or snow) without a brushout in between. This simple task will help the dog keep his coat, and will help the dog LIKE going to the groomers.
There are preventative measures you can take to keep the dog’s fur from knotting so quickly in the snow. Emu oil spray is extremely helpful in preventing mattes if sprayed on the hair before mattes start. This spray moisturizes and softens the hair and skin and does not leave the hair oily. This spray cannot be overused. Another product is ‘The Stuff’ spray, a siliconized spray designed for dog hair that is helpful in preventing and detangling existing mattes. This spray works great, but if overused, can leave the hair oily. Both of these products are available in store and online at
The third option is ‘Pam Cooking Spray’, found in many households. Sprayed lightly on the legs, chest and underbody, it can prevent the hair from becoming saturated in the snow, which keeps the mattes from forming. It can leave your dog a little greasy, but washing a greasy dog is better than clipping one naked in the middle of winter.
These options can make winter fun, and grooming a great experience for dog, owner, and groomer! Be proactive in preventing doggie dreadlocks! Notice if your dog is wet or full of ice. Use a diluted conditioner or spray on the wet parts while melting your dog’s hair. Time the brushing immediately after the dog’s fur is free from ice. Be thorough and check the wet areas to the skin with a comb. Give your dog praise and/or a treat for enduring your melting and brushing process. Use preventative spray measures that are cheap and easy before your dog goes out to play in the snow. Ask your groomer to show you the most effective brushout methods and tools for your breed of dog. Get your dog groomed consistently and regularly. Take the stress out winter with these simple steps. Next time your dog asks to go out and play in the snow, enjoy watching him play his heart out! The joy of watching your best friend play in the snow is worth a thousand brushings!!
Copyright 2011 DuAnn Lustig-Chambers. Owner of and trainer at the Pooch Parlor Pet Groomer Academy in Ponderay, Idaho since 1997. All rights reserved.