The Importance of Grooming | Winnipeg Humane Society
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A dog with extreme matting.

For this month, the Investigations and Emergency Response Department (I/ER) would like to take a moment to discuss the benefits of grooming your pets. During the course of our work, The I/ER team have come across animals who are matted or have overgrown nails, and this can easily be avoided with proper grooming. Ensuring that routine grooming is done on your pet not only helps improve their appearance, but it also helps prevent diseases and contributes to their overall well-being[i].

Matted Fur
It is important for dog owners to know what kind of care their dog will require, as certain breeds have specific needs. Breeds such as poodles will require frequent grooming to ensure that matting does not occur, while huskies should not be shaved as their coat provides them warmth in the winter and cools them off in the summer. When brushing, look for any signs of fleas, ticks, growths or matting. If you come across a mat, try to gently pull it apart and comb it out but ensure you aren’t pulling on the skin. Resist the urge to cut it with scissors, as you don’t want to get the skin underneath. If you’re unable to get the mat out or don’t feel comfortable trying, see a professional.

If mats are not taken care of, the skin gets pulled as a result of the tension – this will become painful, can make grooming more difficult and can cause bruising. Mats also may cause or hide underlying infections or skin issues – it also prevents self grooming and the animal’s ability to regulate their temperature[ii].

Extreme matting on a cat.

Cats may become matted too
Much like some dogs, there are also certain cats that may be more predisposed to hair mats. For example, a long-haired cat will require more regular grooming than a short-haired cat. While cats groom themselves, it is important to keep an eye on your cat and assist with grooming when needed. Keeping your cat at a healthy weight will also prevent grooming issues! An obese cat will have a more difficult time with grooming as they may not be able to reach certain areas, which means hair mats are more likely to form.

Cats are also more prone to excessive grooming – overgrooming can occur when a cat is stressed, has skin irritation or it may indicate the presence of external parasites (like fleas) [iii]. If your cat begins to groom more than usual and you notice hair loss, your veterinarian can help find out why it’s occurring.

The attached photos (one of a dog, and one of a cat) are some of the more severe cases the I/ER department has seen in terms of matted fur, and they were situations that could have been easily avoided with proper grooming. The lumps on the cat picture are large mats of hair – the cat was overweight and was unable to groom itself, so the mats are located in the areas where it couldn’t reach.

Overgrown nails.

Overgrown Nails
Make sure to keep an eye on the nail length of your pet – both cats and dogs should have regular nail trims. Ensuring that your pets nails are at an appropriate length will keep them comfortable when walking or running – nails that are too long can interfere with their gait[iv]. The Investigations and Emergency Response Department have seen nails that have become so overgrown that they had curled over and started growing into the paw pad. It is also important to make sure you don’t cut the nails too short as that will hurt the animal and can cause bleeding, so ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the correct way to trim the nails. Start doing nail trims when the animal is younger – the sooner, the better. By getting your pet accustomed to having their paws handled and by making it a positive experience (with treats and praise!), it’ll make future grooming needs a lot easier .

Overgrown nails.Also make sure that you are examining every nail – as you can see from our photo, some nails may be a regular length while others will be overgrown. By checking every nail carefully, you are making sure you aren’t overlooking anything.

Nail trims aren’t exclusive to cats and dogs either – rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, etc will all need nail trims at some point! Rabbits and rodents may require teeth trims and birds may also need their beaks trimmed – familiarize yourself with the grooming needs of any animals in your home.

By keeping up with grooming, you’re not only helping prevent future problems down the road but you’re keeping your beloved pet comfortable!

For the month of January 2020, the I/ER team attended 163 animal welfare concerns, 45 animal related emergencies and 39 jobs for a variety of other tasks

For Animal Emergencies within the City of Winnipeg, call 204-982-2020
To report an Animal Welfare Concern within the City of Winnipeg, call 204-982-2028
To reach our Intake Department, call 204-982-2025 option #5
To report an Animal Welfare Concern outside of Winnipeg, call the Animal Care Line at 204-945-8000 or toll free 1-888-945-8001
To report Winnipeg Bylaw concerns (stray dogs, barking complaints), contact 311


[i] CVMA

[ii] CVMA

[iii] CVMA

[iv] CVMA