by Janine DeVault
You love your dog’s luscious long hair. In fact, it might have been the reason you fell in love with your pup in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes that lovely hair can get a little out of control, particularly after a long hike or a day at the beach. Long hair is undoubtedly gorgeous, but it requires a lot of maintenance! And the hazards of matted dog hair are real.
The Trouble With Matted Dog Hair
Matted dog hair is unsightly and unpleasant to touch, and can also be uncomfortable or even damaging to your dog’s skin. Mats form when a dog’s hair becomes tangled around itself. Often these tangles trap dirt and debris such as sand, needles, twigs, burs and other objects. Once mats begin to form, they act like magnets for the other hair surrounding them. If left unattended, a small tangle can develop into a massive problem.
As mats grow, they can pull on a dog’s skin, which is very painful. In extreme cases, the tension from the mats can cause sores to develop on the skin which may then become infected. Additionally, since mats trap dirt and debris against a dog’s skin, they can lead to severe itching, irritation and infection. Mats can also be painful to remove; however, leaving them unattended will only make them worse.
How To Un-mat Dog Hair
For many dogs, mats are practically inevitable. While they do pose a challenge, you’ll be able to remove mats at home with a little bit of patience and a couple of handy tools. If you notice mats developing on your pup, use these tips to remove them as soon as possible.
Use a Detangler
There’s nothing worse than having tangles combed out (if you had long hair as a child, cue the traumatic flashbacks). Instead of inflicting that type of pain and suffering on your furry friend, use a detangling solution to loosen the mats. Continued use of products like these can even prevent future mats from forming!
Skout’s Honor has a fantastic Probiotic Detangler that is designed specifically for this scenario. The formula hydrates the skin and softens the fur to prevent skin irritation, and it also helps mats come loose more easily. The topical probiotics within the detangler prevent skin problems, itching, and odor, keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy and happy in between uses.
While it may feel tempting to begin attacking mats, this is bound to be painful for your dog. Instead, brush the mats gently, starting at the tips of the mats, keeping in mind to not pull on your dog’s skin too much. The more pleasant you can make the grooming experience for your dog, the more progress you’ll be able to make.
Call In the Pros
If you’re really struggling to remove your pup’s mats, take him to the groomer. While it may cost you some money, it will save both you and your dog a lot of anguish. If you find your dog is developing mats, increase the frequency of grooming appointments to help keep them at bay. Your groomer may also be able to give you some tips on haircuts and coat maintenance to keep your pup’s fur smooth and tangle-free.
Stop Mats Before They Start
Since removing mats can be such a huge undertaking, you’ll be glad to learn that there are a few things you can do to prevent them from forming.
Keep Your Dog’s Coat Trimmed
The easiest way to avoid mats is to keep your pup’s coat trimmed (if the coat and breed allows for it). While your dog surely looks adorable with long, flowing locks, keeping them trimmed may save you both a lot of stress. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, trimmed fur may only be a seasonal style. For instance, it might make sense to sport a shorter ‘do in the summer when swimming is more common.
Brush Your Dog Frequently
Another way to avoid horrible mats is by regularly grooming your dog. Again, this may vary by the season, but if your dog is spending a lot of time in the water or rolling around outside, he/she will need more frequent brushing to keep his/her coat clean and smooth. Depending on your dog’s coat and lifestyle, you may need to brush as often as once a day to keep mats from forming.
Don’t Neglect the Undercoat
Many dogs have a soft undercoat and neglecting it is sure to result in tangles and mats. You may need to use multiple tools to ensure you are combing through this fine fur. An undercoat rake is a great tool to help you tackle this troublesome area.
While matted dog hair is horrible to deal with, it’s quite easy to prevent with a regular grooming routine. Use a detangling solution to help loosen mats while brushing and consider having your pup’s coat clipped shorter during seasons he/she is most prone to matting.
Janine DeVault is a pet writer, animal rescue advocate and former celebrity dog walker. She has worked with a variety of pet-industry clients and specializes in writing pet lifestyle content. Janine lives in Canada with her rescue cat, Kesi.