Matted Dog Fur: A Message From Your Groomer

Dogs of all breeds fall prey to matted dog fur. Matted dog hair is a commonly experienced issue among dog owners. Dog owners with the proper knowledge and tools to safely detangle matted fur are not as common. It’s tempting to try and yank them out, bathe the knots out, or take a pair of scissors to them. Unfortunately, these tactics do more harm than good.

Luckily, there are safe and comfortable ways to help your dog get rid of its mats. While the more severe cases may require professional pet grooming, most of them can be done in the familiar environment of your home.

couple of puppies with slightly matted dog fur

What is a mat-just hair?

It’s a good idea to determine the cause of your dog’s matting before you get into removal as this can help you properly treat it and even prevent future instances of matting. Matting occurs when hair wraps around itself and becomes tangled, often wrangling in dead skin cells and loose hairs that further thicken the mat. 

Matted dog fur begins in a small and somewhat thin patch, but as time goes on without brushing or a detangling attempt the mat begins growing and creeping closer to the skin. If the mat does reach the skin, serious infections can occur that may require the attention of a veterinarian. 

This dogs has incredibly matted dog hair being removed with a razor

If the matting is severe and close to the skin, airflow becomes constricted and the skin can dry and fester. This leads to painful sores and infections. Dander and dead skin carried in mats also leave dogs prone to infection. This can happen even if they only receive a very small knick or scrape.

These particles additionally worsen the mats. Frequent bathing and brushing are great preventative measures to take in avoiding mats and infections.

dog with a skin sore from severely matted dog fur

Matting may seem like just an aesthetic issue, but for dogs, it can be quite painful. Mats pull and tighten the skin beneath them, making the skin weak and prone to rips and tears. Sleeping and resting can become uncomfortable depending on the location and severity of the mats, as small tugs on the knots yank the tender skin beneath it and disrupt a dog’s quality of life.

How Mats Occur

Matting happens in areas of the dog’s body that receive high amounts of friction, like their inner hips, behind their ears, under their collar, and along their bellies. The friction smushes hair together, twisting and pressing it into arduous tangles that can quickly become painful for your dog and a huge hassle to remove.

Moisture can also lead to mats if your dog isn’t properly brushed and dried after a dip in the pool or lake, or even just a bath. Dogs that enjoy taking frequent swims should be given some extra care during brushing and bathing because of this. 

dog looks like a rasta bk the hair is so matted

Other outdoorsy items can quickly cause matting, like twigs and small parasitic creatures that are easy to catch if your dog is not properly protected. Fleas and other itchy parasites increase the amount of scratching and friction all across a dog’s body, making it much easier for a dog to wind up with matted patches of fur. Additionally, the natural bouts of shedding that occur between seasons can lead to mats and knots if the loose hairs are not frequently brushed out.

How to get mats out of dog hair

Fortunately, mats can often be removed with a bit of elbow grease, some treats, detangling spray, and with the proper brush or clipper in hand. Raking a brush over the mat will be painful and inefficient, making grooming a frightening experience for your dog and a frustrating one for yourself. 

1. Arm yourself with the best dog clippers for matted hair

Brushes with different-sized bristles, stiff metal prongs, or brushes designed specifically for mat removal are the very best way to go. You can choose among the following options depending on your objective. Each clipper has a different advantage but if you want the best performing clipper, go with the Andis Super AGC.

best clippers for matted dog hair

Loosen the tangled hair as best you with detangling oil

Before using the brush, try working your fingers through the mat, rubbing in detangling oils to separate the matted hair into smaller pieces.

Brush through the tangled fur without pulling on the skin

From there, gently pull through small sections with brush prongs, keeping the base of the mat in a firm grip to stave painful tugging on the skin.

Use clippers over scissors as the next best option

If brushing and detangling ointments don’t seem to be getting the job done, reach for clippers rather than scissors. Using scissors increases your risk for accidental cuts and nicks, as the sharp points often bore into the mat without much visual aid. This going-in-blind feeling is why the use of scissors isn’t recommended. If you can’t see where the skin starts and the mat ends, your dog will be at risk for cuts, infections, and an unpleasant grooming experience that will make your future endeavors much more complicated. 

Using clippers is a great way to get rid of tricky mats because of their varying attachment sizes and the different options you have for the length of your trim. Most grooming clippers are also designed to avoid nicks and cuts, again making them safer to use than scissors. It’s best to ease the clippers into the mat, carefully removing small sections as close to the skin as needed until the entire patch is removed. If the matting is wide-spread, it is best to do a close trim over the dog’s whole body and start fresh. Some dog owners resist this idea for aesthetic reasons, but it will be most comfortable and relieving for your dog to have the problematic hair removed.

How To Prevent Matting

One of the best things to do to keep matting at bay is frequent bathing and brushing. Some breeds, like Doodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Poodles, will need more attention while others can go up to a month between thorough brushes. Keeping your dog clean and dry also majorly assists in mat prevention. Ensure complete dryness after every bath and swim–your dog and your future self will thank you.

happy dog with untangled hair

Using tick and flea medications will prevent the excess scratching and itching that lead to mats, along with a proper collar that is not too tight or too loose. Keeping your dog’s hair short lowers the chances of tangling and knots, along with trips to the groomers to get a professional clip and brush every so often.