How to Deal with Matted Dog Hair
Mats are solid clumps of knotted fur. Although they can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, they’re most commonly found in areas where your dog’s fur rubs together. Adding simple steps to your grooming routine can help prevent mats. But, certain breeds are more susceptible to matting, even with proper grooming. Owners of dogs with hair that’s soft to the touch rather than short and coarse should make sure to regularly check their dog for mats.
Prevent Mats from Forming
When checking your dog for mats, focus on the areas behind the ears, between the toes, between the legs in the dog’s armpit, around the bottom and stomach and along the backs of the legs. Brushing your dog several times a week and taking the time to inspect his coat between grooming, especially after play and exercise, will help prevent mats from forming. If you notice your dog’s hair is still susceptible to matting, make sure to use a slicker brush or a large pin brush. Always brush your dog before a bath. That way, you won’t be cleaning tangles or letting mats stay in the coat. Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent your dog’s hair from matting, most dogs with soft or long hair occasionally develop mats between grooming. Dealing with them doesn’t have to be a traumatizing experience for either you or your dog. In fact, if mats aren’t removed, they can become painful by pulling at your dog’s skin or starting to itch. It’s best to remove mats carefully and quickly before they get out of control.
Comb it Out
First, make sure your dog is comfortable and calm. Pet him gently and offer him treats as you start to de-mat. Once your dog is relaxed, hydrate his hair by spraying his coat with a coat conditioner, like no-rinse shampoo. This makes it easier to separate the clumps, eases the pulling of a brush or comb and helps release any debris that might be caught in your dog’s hair. After the coat is saturated, separate as much of the mat as possible with your fingers. If you are able to partially separate the mat, it can sometimes be removed with a de-matting comb. Hold the base of the mat with your fingers to avoid pulling your dog’s skin and pull the comb through the mat from the base.
Cut it Out
If separating and combing the mats out does not work, use scissors. Never cut the mat straight across next to the skin or slide the scissors beneath the mat. If possible, keep the comb between the scissors and your dog’s skin. Hold the scissors perpendicular to the comb and delicately slide the scissors through the mat in a sawing motion to loosen it. Or make small snips into the fur ball to loosen and remove it gradually. Although this may seem tedious, loosening the mat is easier than attempting to remove it completely all at once. Not only will it prevent you from haphazardly cutting into your dog’s coat and making the fur patchy, but it will also prevent you from accidentally cutting or hurting your dog. If the mat is too large or tangled to remove with a scissors without hurting your dog, use an electric trimmer to remove the mat gently. When cutting mats out with trimmers, pay special attention to the area to make sure you do not cut too close to your dog’s skin.
Get Household Help
For especially persistent mats, massaging the mat and the surrounding area with nonstick cooking sprays or a bit of cornstarch can help loosen the hair and ease caught debris out. It can also help guide the de-matting comb through the mat without pulling on your dog’s skin. Once the mat has been removed, comb out any remaining tangles. And make sure to praise your dog for his cooperation so that removing mats remains a practically painless process.
Visit our Pet Grooming page for additional information and products for grooming, clipping, trimming, and bathing your pet.