Matting is described as densely tangled clumps of fur that form on a pet’s outer coat or deeper undercoat. Mats typically occur when a coat has not been properly or frequently brushed. If left unresolved for too long, more extensive matting may require the entire coat to be shaved. However, smaller mats can often be combed out.
If you notice that your pet has mats, you’ll want to determine the extent and promptly choose a solution. Severe matting can be painful for a dog and can even cut off the blood supply to extremities. Skin irritation can also occur due to a lack of circulation around the skin. Regular brushing or combing helps to remove loose and excess hairs to prevent matting. Here are some tips to safely and gently comb out matted dog fur.
Choose the Right Shampoo
The right shampoo can make all the difference when attempting to comb out matted dog fur. When dealing with tough tangles, you want a dog shampoo that both cleans and conditions.
Some dog shampoos on the market have the opposite effect by drying out the hair and skin. You’ll want to avoid products containing ingredients like artificial fragrances, artificial colors, phthalates, formaldehyde preservatives, isothiazolinone preservatives, and paraben preservatives.
Instead, opt for a plant-based formula containing natural ingredients like oatmeal, coconut, palm, and aloe extracts. These moisturizing ingredients can help loosen and smooth tangles to make the fur easier to comb.
Invest in a Dematting Tool
While there are a variety of dog brushes, combs, and rakes available, a standard dematting tool is best suited for mats. Using a dematting tool is similar to using any other dog comb or brush.
- Dampen the matted hair with a dog-friendly hair detangler. Use your fingers to work the detangler into the mat. The hair is easier to untangle when slippery and smooth.
- Gently break up the mat with your fingers. Pull away the outer hairs first and gradually make your way towards the inner hairs.
- Hold a small section of hair above the mat to prevent painful pulling at your pet’s skin. Use the dematting tool to carefully comb through the matted fur, starting at the ends and working up towards the skin. The teeth of the dematting tool will enter the mat while the blades cut through the knotted hair.
- Repeat with other sections of the mat until all of the hair has been untangled. Avoid coming into direct contact with the dog’s skin.
Clip Severe Mats with Scissors
Have a pair of professional pet grooming scissors on hand to deal with severe mats that cannot be brushed or combed out. Cutting out mats with scissors should only be a last resort and only appropriate for small tangles. More extensive areas of matting may require the entire coat to be shaved.
As an alternative, thinning shears can help break up the hair without completely cutting it off. This can be useful for dogs with thick or double coats. Do not use scissors around your pet’s eyes, nose, or ears. If you are not comfortable using scissors, consider bringing your pet to your vet or a professional groomer to have this service completed.
Comb Newly Detangled Hair
Once the hair has been de-matted, you’ll want to give it one last swipe with a stainless-steel dog comb. This will help remove any tiny tangles that you may have missed with the dematting tool. At this stage, the comb should easily glide through your pet’s hair without getting caught.
If you are still encountering a few tangles, spritz the hair with a dog conditioning spray. This will help smooth and detangle the hair further, allowing you to more easily comb through the fur.
Praise Your Pet for a Job Well Done
The last step of the process is the most important. After you have completed your grooming session, you’ll want to provide your pet with plenty of praise and possibly a treat or two. Combing out matted hair can be an uncomfortable experience for pets and many dogs don’t like to sit still.
Providing praise and treats throughout the session can help keep your dog calm. If at-home grooming becomes a routine, your dog will soon associate these sessions with good things, like affection and food.
Tips to Prevent Matted Dog Fur
While it is possible to comb out matted dog fur, you want to do your best to avoid matting in the first place. Here are some tips to keep your dog’s fur smooth and free of tangles.
- Groom your pet regularly. The Animal Humane Society recommends brushing your dog at least every couple of days regardless of his coat length. Also, brush out your dog after going for walks to check for grass awns (seeds), foxtails, leaves, burrs, and other things that could have become lodged in his coat.
- Routinely bathe your dog. Bathe your dog as often as your vet or groomer recommends to keep the fur clean and tangles at bay.
- Feed your pet a healthy diet. Feeding your pet the right foods can help keep his skin and hair healthy and smooth. Your pet’s diet should contain a balance of vital food groups. Fish oil supplements can help keep the skin moisturized.
Hair mats can be a serious problem for dogs; fortunately, they can also be easily prevented. If you continue to struggle with removing your pet’s mats, take him to a professional groomer.