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Here's A Scary Fact Every Dog Owner Needs To Know

We interrupt this program to bring you an important WTF from a dog groomer.

Yes, matted fur can get that bad. The image, shared on Facebook by Maryland dog groomer Sit Stay Style, illustrates the perils of letting things go too far - even if, at least on the surface, a dog doesn't seem to have any serious knots.

That's because matting, essentially the formation of dense knots in fur, actually begins at the base of the skin.

"If you think about it, people often stroke their dog along its fur in long strokes, rather than, say, massage the fur from above with their fingers," Terri Bright, director of behavior services at MSPCA-Angell, tells The Dodo. "When that happens, all they are feeling is the fur on top. Meanwhile, the fur underneath, if not kept adequately brushed, can tangle and mat and just become part of what the person feels when they pet their dog."

While labradoodles, that plucky mix of Labrador retriever and poodle, tend to be particularly vulnerable to the perils of matting thanks to their extraordinarily dense coats, we've seen plenty of breeds suffer from extreme matting.

DirtyDogs

And at that point, all that groomers can do, as Sit Stay Style notes on its Facebook page, is get the clippers out - and get down to the bare business of unzipping a dog from her coat.

DirtyDogs

And suffer they do. When knots form in fur, brushing becomes an exercise in agony as a dog's living hairs are torn from the skin. In addition to the discomfort, it can lead to health risks.

And since the matting is gradual and happens over time there may not be one big matting symptom for the owner until the fur on top also appears ill-kempt.

Victoria Aldred, a groomer at Barker's Pet Motel and Grooming in St. Albert, Alberta has seen that kind of unruliness all-too often.

"Lots of owners want their dogs long and fluffy but they think that growing it out simply means not cutting it for a very long time," she tells The Dodo. "The dog ends up getting terribly matted. When they finally go to the groomer for 'just the ends tidied', we have no other option than to shave."

What can you do to stay on top of it?

Firstly, know what kind of dog you're getting into.

Short-haired breeds like the ultra-low maintenance Chihuahua are obviously not going to become tumbleweeds under any circumstances. Not at all like those fluff-mongering labradoodles.

"Doodles are so popular right now, but they have one of the most high maintenance coats around," Aldred explains. "Lots of people get them without realizing this."

Also, please no scissors.

"Using scissors or even clippers at home is not recommended because it can be dangerous with tight mats close to the skin," Ahlgrim says. "It can sometimes be difficult to discern the end of skin and start of hair."

Sit Style Stay suggests grooming long-haired dogs like labradoodles every three to five weeks, while making time for regular combing at home.

And this: "Please know, if you bathe your doodle you really need to blow dry and brush out right after. Moisture, be it a bath, rain, swimming, snow etc are all going to amplify matting."

Learn more about how to prevent matting here.