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Hi everyone. I'm hoping you all can help me. For the majority of my life, animals needing help have found me. I've been involved in animal rescue (formally) for a few years now. Currently, I have 4 small short hair rescues of my own. I'm sure you guys can relate, word gets around. So a couple days ago, I got a call about an elderly man with a cavapoo. I was told the dog was in bad shape and could I take a look. Long story short, I now have a very sweet, slightly nervous neutered, middle age, male cavapoo. My guess is that the grooming got away from the man and it wasn't willful neglect. Not much socialization though and does show guarding behavior. This poor dog is badly, badly matted. Right to the skin. I can't find any local groomers willing to give me a huge discount (the timing sucks. I'm broke.) So I'm going to have to tackle this myself. I have very little experience with long hair dogs. I do have a good andis clipper that I picked up a while back, just in case. I'm hoping to get recommendations on a blade #. I've done some research and have heard differing opinions.

Wet shave? With shampoo or rinsed?

Bathe before shave?

Any special tips for legs and face?

His ears are nasty. Do I pull out the ear hair before cleaning and treating? What's the easiest way? Without a real clear look, I'm pretty sure he has ear mites. No infection though.

Since I don't really know this dog yet, my plan is to give him some rescue remedy and go as slow as I have to. Like one leg at a time, then break, etc. I don't want to freak him out or get bitten. Any other calming tips?

If there is anything I haven't anticipated or need to know, I'd appreciate the help. I'm not concerned at all with how it looks right now. I just want to get him comfortable. He'll be here for a couple months at least while I evaluate him and make sure he's healthy so I can always get him groomed again after he grows out a bit.

Thanks in advance!

Kerry

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If he is that matted use a #10 blade. It is the only one that will get all the way to the skin. I would do it dirty since he is so matted. Then after he is shaved give him a nice bath and if you have one a sweater to wear after. Make sure and keep feeling the blade so you don't burn him with a hot blade. If you don't have two #10 blades take lots of breaks. On the ears get the hair out first then clean. I used to do shelter dogs all the time just go slow and give lots of treats. After being matted for so long they really appreciate being mat free. Great job on the rescue.
 

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I have shaved down a matted dog like this before, and it is not an easy task. My heart goes out to you, and good on you for taking on this little guy. He is lucky to have found you.

Because the dog is nervous, make sure you do the grooming somewhere peaceful and free from distractions. And for your sake, make it well lit. You know this dog personally, but I can say that from my experience, start out with lots of kind words and treats, but if the dog shows you he is able to be calm and quiet, just go about the work calmly and quietly, with kind words and calm strokes and a few treats at the ready when you need them. My dogs can get anxious during grooming too, but the less I talk to them and the more I focus on the task at hand, they just kind of get calm and hang out while I do it. Maybe the talking makes them more excited and the quiet is just easier to be in. A nice long walk before starting is also necessary.

I would go with the shortest blade cover. I use a Wahl trimmer, and the higher the number, the longer the hair left after cut is, but it sounds like other trimmer cuts are the opposite, as in what I call my #1 cover, you might call your #10 blade cover, so I don't want to say a certain number to use not knowing what you have. But whatever leaves the hair shortest, go with that. Using the blade cover will ensure that as the blade warms, the dog is protected from the heat. However, if it gets hot (check the temp on the back of your hand as you work), you will need to use cooling blade on spray, or take a break until it cools down again. Using a hot blade is a big no no, *especially* since the skin is almost certainly irritated under all that matting.

I would do it dry, as hair is easier to cut dry and it's hard to properly dry out a matted dog before cutting. Do your bath after, and make it a five or ten minute soak with lots of healing ingredients, with a conditioner afterward. Most people go with oatmeal shampoo/conditioner, but I like tea tree oil for my two maltese/poodle mixes with pale, sensitive skin. I am only speaking from experience, but oatmeal seemed to encourage yeast on their skin and in their ears, whereas tea tree oil shampoo/conditioner does not, and soothes their skin issues. I use Earth Bath Tea Tree and Aloe Shampoo, and Espree Tea Tree and Aloe Conditioner.

DEFINITELY press cotton balls in the ears before washing face. If one cotton ball is too big, then just use half a ball in each ear. Many people pour water over a dog's head when bathing, but with floppy eared dogs, this is potentially more harmful as it is easier for moisture to be trapped in their ears, causing ear infections. Use a washcloth instead, slowly going over their face with a wet cloth and wiping all over. I use shampoo on the top of the head a little and on the end of the ears, but it's not usually necessary all over the face and will probably just get in their eyes anyways.

As for the ear hair, I would remove after the bath personally. I have found from experience that it's a little easier to pull out afterwards. You can use your fingers, or you can use tweezers as long as you do NOT go past where you can see in the ear. And do not use tweezers if the dog does a lot of head jerking, as you can end up with an inner ear injury this way.

You may be able to leave some hair around the face and tail, but the body will likely need to be all shaved down. Just go slow like you plan to, and see how his body looks underneath the mats. Be careful because you may find abrasions or rashes underneath that are making the skin extra sensitive to touch. That much matting usually means at least one or two spots that will need to heal from the unhealthy conditions it's been under.

You may have to do everything across a few sessions too. Take your time! Good job for being there for this little guy.

I hope some of this helps! Hoping you have tons of luck with this guy!
 

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You've received lots of great advice. I just wanted to chime in and say good work on rescuing this little guy. Thanks for your hard work and compassion.

Also, bathing a dog with mats will cause the mats to tighten and get much worse. I would personally try to cut away as many of the mats as possible (with shears) and then shave the rest.

Also to pluck his ears, I would use powder and hemostats. This powder works well:

https://www.chewy.com/dog/miracle-care-r-7-ear-powder-step-1/dp/111515

The powder will help you have more grip on the hairs (if his ears are waxy, the hairs will slip when you try to pull them)

Once you remove the hairs so that the ears can "breathe," then follow up a day or two later with this:

https://www.chewy.com/dog/miracle-care-r-7-ear-care-kit-dogs/dp/111507

Its sounds like you've got a big job on your hands, for your sake and the dog's you may consider breaking it up over a couple days. Don't overwhelm the little guy. Lots of sweet talk and treats. Best of luck. Let us knows how it goes!
 
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