Although many dogs have stunning coats with thick or long hair, they can be difficult to keep free of tangles and mats. With the help of a detangling spray for dogs and a brush or comb, you can likely remove small mats from your dog's coat. Sometimes, large mats may develop and you may need to cut them out or even take a trip to the groomer.
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Matted hair causes and concerns
Mats occur when the dog's hair gets tangled and forms knots. As the tangles continue to grow, the mats get larger. Some mats are visible while others form close to the skin and can easily go undetected. Friction is a common cause of mats, such as where the collar rubs against the fur of the neck or on areas where the dog scratches or sits on. Mats also commonly form around burs or other debris stuck in your dog's coat.
If your dog goes swimming or has a wet coat, mats are likely to form if you don't brush her. Some breeds are more prone to matting than others, such as Bichon Frise, Poodles, and cocker spaniels. Mats themselves can be uncomfortable or even painful for your dog, as they can pull on the skin. They can also damage and irritate the skin as moisture and dirt get trapped in the mat and blood circulation is decreased. Your dog may also develop hot spots and skin infections.
The best treatment for mats is prevention. Brush your dog regularly to prevent mats from forming. Some dogs need to be groomed daily while others will do well with a brushing a couple of times a week.
Brush out matted hair
If you find some small mats in your dog's coat, you may be able to brush them out on your own. Be aware that this process may be painful for your dog, so go slow and be patient. First, identify the mats. Some common places where you will find mats include around the collar, behind the ears, and in the armpits. If your dog has a thick coat, mats near the skin may not be immediately apparent if you are using a slicker brush for dogs. Use a comb to comb the hair starting at the skin to find knots and mats.
Begin by using your fingers to try and break apart the mat. Then use a comb or brush to gently work out the tangle. Hold onto the base of the mat when you are brushing to minimize the pulling. Use a detangling spray for dogs to help loosen the knot. As an alternative to a detangler spray, try cornstarch for matted dog hair. Sprinkle the cornstarch on the matted area and use your fingers to work the corn starch into the dog's fur and break apart the mat.
Don't force this process. Dematting can damage your dog's coat and injure her skin. If the process is too painful for your dog, consider cutting out the mats or taking her to the vet or groomer to have mats removed under sedation if necessary.
Cut out mats
Cut or shave out larger mats. This will be faster and less painful for your dog, resulting in a better experience. You may discover hot spots or other skin conditions after clipping your dog. Consult your veterinarian or groomer to treat the conditions.
There is always a danger of cutting your dog with scissors or clippers, especially if your dog is moving around. Have someone help you hold your dog during this process if possible. If you are still struggling to cut out the mats, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with a local groomer to avoid injuring your dog.