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November 2012
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December 2012

Healthy Dematting

This is Oliver- a Bichon and Lhasa mix- Ollie has a drop coat with just enuf soft undercoat beneath long coarse guard coat that he matts up very easily with pretty dense cottony matts.

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I washed him with ShowSeason’s Soothe shampoo at a 3:1 dilution rate. You can choose your favorite gentle shampoo that is not clarifying or stripping to do the cleansing work any time the dog’s skin and coat needs cleaning but is in danger of over-drying. If the dog has dry or flakey skin, you may want to go with either an oatmeal shampoo (except in the case of allergies where oatmeal can aggravate this and actually feed yeast cultures on the dog’s skin), or another alpha-hydroxy shampoo to bubble up and off dead skin cells and stale skin oil build up. Whenever there is excess dirt or oil or skin irritation, always try to rinse thru the coat with a good tepid water rinse to break up those oils and open the skin pores prior to the cleansing of both the skin and hair coat. Water which is too warm can be uncomfortable or irritate already upset skin as in the case of hot spots and allergies. You can use a tepid to cooler rinse water if there is any question of unhealthy or irritated skin, but if the skin looks good and the hair coat just needs some work, a warmer rinse will loosen packed undercoat, lift up dead skin cellular matter, break up built up skin oils, and open the skin pores to let go of dead hair partially submerged within the hair follicle which the coat will be healthier without.

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Water is often overlooked as both the most gentle and most safe means of exfoliation and of moisturizing. However, as with us, prolonged exposure to water can actually over-dry the skin, so I personally never rinse during any cycle of the bath for more than 2-3 minutes, so the skin is wet for no longer than 10 minutes unless I am addressing a certain skin issue which requires an active soak.

After a thorough hand wash, I used a warmer rinse to remove all the shampoo from the coat, and squeezed the water from the coat. Next here I used ShowSeason’s Hypo Conditioner (cream consistency) at full strength. You can use any thicker cream consistency moisturizer of your choice, but you want something that works well for drop coats without causing long term coat buildup. After a while, some lower quality conditioners will actually build up on the coat and can attract dirt and cause waxiness, limpness and lackluster color. If you are seeing limp or scraggly coat after grooming, try a clarifying shampoo to first strip off any wax build up. I worked this by hand from the skin surface to the tips of all of the coat and then left this on for 5 minutes while Ollie was wrapped in a very warm wet towel to keep the skin and hair follicles open for moisture absorption and help fill in the gaps in the hair shaft structure of any damaged coat. I then followed this moisture wrap- similar to a hot oil treatment- with a long cool rinse to close the skin and hair follicles and help seal in moisture. Once towel dried, I applied a liberal amount of DeTangle spray to the areas where he was most tightly matted. I then HVed on low until he was completely dried before doing any brushing.

Combing and brushing of wet hair- especially in order to dematt- is often the culprit of causing more matting as it mechanically stretches each hair shaft at a time when it is wet and there for at its lowest tensile strength. This stretching usually causes the shaft to crack and splinter and twist similar to a spring. This in turn causes the fragmented shaft to snag on other hairs around it. This helps to create friction- a major element of a matt, and also since a damaged hair shaft holds dirt- another ingredient in most matts, this makes this a great recipe for tangles- which is a common building block of any matt. Then what was left I combed out. This was the outcome.

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No severe breakage, and amazingly soft, supple, glossy coat. Pink and healthy plump skin with no more flakes, and a happy, unstressed, beautiful pup.

 

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