Second Chance: Bad Hair Days…

This week’s Pet Column contributed by Second Chance’s resident veterinarian Michelle Dally of Dally Veterinary Medicine, who wanted to educate our Pet Column readers directly from her experiences with the pro bono veterinary treatment she provides on regular basis here at Second Chance Humane Society.  This week Michelle writes about bad hair.



Humans have bad hair days. At least this one does. It is not, no matter what I tell myself, a life or death situation. It doesn’t hurt and it really is just a matter of vanity. Not so for dogs and cats.

Bad hair for them generally means matting. It means that the slender thin hairs of the undercoat, meant to keep them warm, are tangled up next to the skin and the whole nasty mess moves closer and closer to their delicate skin until it is literally pulling hard right at the roots. It is like taking a handful of your own hair, right next to the scalp, and pulling as hard as you can NONSTOP. That’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is painful. Very painful. In addition to the pain, here are some other points to consider:

Matting can hinder movement, especially when the matting occurs in the inguinal area (that’s the area at the curve between your pet’s inner thigh and their private parts) or around their underarms. It can cut off oxygen to the tissues, which kills the skin. It can create the perfect atmosphere for bacteria and start skin infections. Because air can’t get to it, the bacteria grows, eating off the dead skin. If it gets wet, your pet can even get maggots, yep…maggots.

And finally, if the mats are in front of the rectum, they can interfere with normal defecation and start causing irritation and open, festering sores. Pain, maggots, festering sores…and many people think hair mats are simply a vanity issue not a serious, painful health issue…

Recently Second Chance received two abandoned animals, both covered with mats. Silver, a gorgeous 1- year-old grey long-haired female cat, required sedation before we could shave her mats off. Scoobie, a sweet 8 -year-old male cockapoo, was only slightly better off – he didn’t need sedation, but he still was covered with mats.  You could see the relief on their faces once the hair was gone, they might look funny for a few weeks while their hair re-grows, but the constant pain is over.



Thus, with your own pets, you need to keep an eye out for mats, and deal with them immediately. A recently acquired mat can be carefully cut off – but beware – mats can be deceptive. You think you’re cutting only hair, but if the mat has worked its way down to the skin you could cut your pet, so it is safer to use a pair of electric clippers.

I advise to check daily for mats by running your hand over your long haired pet, massaging with your fingertips down to the skin. You should always be able to gently separate the hair and see the skin in the part. Otherwise you have a mat that needs to come out.

Silver & Scoobie are now mat-free, happy, and ready for adoption.

Come visit them today!

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff & Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

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