Matted dog hair is a common malady for breeds with longer coats. It’s the dog version of a bad hair day, but for our furry friends, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Both mild and severe cases of matted dog hair can cause all sorts of problems, whether it be hygienic, cosmetic, or health-related.
We are going to talk about what causes matted dog hair and how to get rid of it easily using safe, alternative home remedies.
Why matted dog hair is bad for your pet
Matted dog hair isn’t just uncomfortable for your pup, it can also pose a number of health risks.
When your dog’s hair is stuck in knots and mats, it can be a trapping zone for moisture which provides a site for the growth of bacteria. Bacterial growth can eventually cause infection, which can snowball into impaction and severe skin damage if not treated immediately. This can be very painful for your dog and can cost you several thousand dollars in vet bills.
Aside from the potential health hazards, matted dog hair is also a hygiene and cosmetic issue. Because of the growth of bacteria, your dog’s hair will smell foul, sort of like a wet dog smell but ten times worse. It can also become itchy, causing your pup to scratch more often and possibly damage their skin.
Apart from that, who likes seeing matted hair on a dog? Of course, you wouldn’t. No one would! As dog owners, we all want to see our dogs happy and in perfect health.
What causes matted dog hair
Areas of the dog’s body where there is a lot of friction (e.g. behind ears, undercarriage, armpits) or spots where their hair is being compacted can give rise to matting. Since hair in these areas is constantly being rubbed together, they tend to get clumped up. If not brushed regularly, a dog can get matting in high-friction areas or the spots on his body where he usually lays/sits down on.
Dogs, especially hairy ones, need frequent grooming and brushing to avoid hair getting clumped up on their bodies. Regular brushing will remove dead and loose hairs and allow the fur to be aerated. Particularly, at least once-a-day brushing is necessary during seasonal shedding, as excess hair build-up can easily cause matting.
Proper baths should also be given to your dog. Use of high-quality dog shampoo and conditioner can get rid of germs as well as make the hair soft enough for easier brushing. Dogs who are not bathed properly, specifically those who have played outside with mud and moisture sticking to their coat, can develop matting.
Severe matting in a dog’s hair happens when an owner refuses to deal with the problem head-on until the matting has spiraled out of control. Extremely matted hair can cut off circulation in the extremities (aside from causing bacterial infections and skin illness) and can be the cause for amputation.
This is also a common problem for homeless dogs. Without someone to brush them daily and give them baths, dogs can develop severe matting and can sometimes even die from the complications.
Matted Dog Hair Remedies
A lot of groomers offer dematting services or matt prevention services, but it’s not the only option if you find yourself having to detangle your pet’s matts. Home remedies can be just as good as professional grooming services, and it can really save you time and money especially if you are short on both.
Untangle matted dog hair using your hands
You can untangle a dog’s matted hair using your hands and water alone, given that it’s not too severe.
First, you need to moisten the tangled spot with detangler spray or water. Don’t wet your dog completely, only the matted spots. Then, gently detangle the hair, going through each strand as you work from the largest matts to the smallest.
Remember not to yank on the matted hair, as some clumps can be too close to the skin and this can be painful for your pup.
Use a fine-toothed metal comb
For worse knots and tangles, you can use a fine-toothed metal comb to detangle the strands. Make sure you take hold of your dog’s hair at the base (with enough distance between hair and skin) before you start combing.
Combing out matted hair can take a long time, so you need to have enough patience so that you can do the job efficiently without getting frustrated and hurting your dog.
If you need something a bit more heavy duty, there are plenty of de-shedding tools for dogs that can help you get this done more easily.
Cut the matted dog hair off
This can be a potentially dangerous method in getting the matted hair off, so if you aren’t confident that you can do it yourself, take your dog to a professional groomer.
If your dog is calm enough and well-behaved and you feel that you can cut the matted hair by yourself, do so with a sharp pair of scissors. However, only do this if the matt is so dense that you cannot untangle it by hand or with a comb.
To cut off a piece of matted hair, hold the knot at the base, making absolutely sure that you are holding hair only and not skin. Then, carefully cut the matted hair off with scissors. If the distance between the hair and the skin is too little, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
How to prevent matted hair in your dog
Prevention is key! Avoid matted dog hair by brushing your pooch’s coat with a comb or brush every day. This is very important for long-haired dogs, most of all, as well as those who tend to shed heavily.
At least once a day, brush your dog gently to get rid of excess hair. The brushing motion will also help the circulation of air on his skin and release natural oils underneath. Pay attention to high-friction areas and regularly check for tangles or knots. If you do find some, gently brush them out to untangle them.
Do the brushing at the same area (preferably with no carpets or fabric near) so that your dog can associate it with brushing. Make sure he is comfortable during the whole thing and don’t forget to reward him after. This will help your dog to associate brushing and grooming with a positive experience. It is also a great bonding experience for you and your pup.
Take your dog to a professional groomer every four to six months so that he can experience some deep cleaning. For dogs with medium-length and long hair, consider cutting their coats shorter to avoid messy tangles, especially in areas where they are prone to developing matts, like the paws, undercarriage, and under legs.
A diet rich in essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, can help maintain your dog’s healthy coat. Incorporate these nutrients in his diet either with dog food or supplements as recommended by your vet.
Matted dog hair is an unhygienic, uncomfortable, and hazardous problem to have. Common in dogs with long hair, matting can be caused by poor grooming practices and neglect. When treated early on, matted dog hair can be easy to get rid of with a little time and patience. However, in cases of severe matting, take your dog to a professional who can get rid of the matts safely and pain-free.
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