How to Groom a Dog with Matted Fur

December 30, 2015

dog mats taroBy Laurie Darroch

When your dog gets matted fur, it is not only a grooming problem; it can be a health and comfort issue as well. Matted fur can even be painful for your dog. Daily grooming can help to prevent mats, but proper coat care when they do occur is a key element of dealing with matted fur on your dog.

Matted fur acts like a trap for anything small and loose that your dog comes across while playing, even while indoors. The trapped debris or pests that gather in the mats can be a health issue as well as causing irritation, cuts and tender areas which can fester and become infected.

Prevention

Mats come in many sizes. They may be small and easily brushed or cut out, or large and extremely tangled. Daily grooming is important, particularly on dogs that have thick or long fur. Prevent the matting from occurring by brushing or combing your dog’s fur on a daily basis, the same way you take care of your own hair. Catching smaller mats and working them out or removing them is much easier than dealing with huge clumps of matted fur.  It is also less painful for your dog. In addition, daily grooming is a nice bonding time with your dog.

Problem Areas

The full back coat of your dog is not the only area that can get matted. Check the paw pads, especially on dogs with long fur between their toes. The fur in their paw pads can trap all types of debris ranging from burrs and dirt to small stones, bits of sticks, shells, broken glass and other sharp objects they walk across.  Keep the fur between their pads groomed. If small items get stuck in their paw fur, it is easy to trim it to remove the foreign matter that may cut or injure their feet.

Check each leg for matted fur. When dogs run and roll in the grass and dirt, fur catches and holds debris. Don’t just brush and comb the back of your dog, check their belly and chest areas as well. Matted fur can trap items against their underside which can make resting time uncomfortable.

Although it is an unpleasant task, checking the anal area for matted fur is important as well. Matted fur in this area can contribute to constipation and can make it difficult for your dog to do his business. Cut off the mats with small, blunt-nosed scissors.

dog mats twistinMatted fur around the ears can trap small things that can get into the ears as well. Since the inside of your dog’s ears  are not easily seen without a close up inspection, the hair around their ears needs to be kept in good condition.

Tools

There are a variety of tools available to help you prevent mats in your dog’s fur and deal with them when they occur. Special dematting tools can be used to work out the mats. There are dematting combs and brushes of different styles as well. Rather than using regular brushes or combs, these make mat removal a bit easier.

Conditioning spray will help you remove mats from your dog’s fur while you are brushing or combing them. The spray adds some moisture and conditioner that loosens the mats. Be sure to use a product that is specifically designed for dogs and not your own hair conditioner to prevent irritating your dog’s skin.

Brushing and blow drying your dog’s fur after a bath can help keep wet fur from matting up. Brushes and stainless steel combs designed for a dog’s fur make it easier to both groom in prevention and remove mats in their fur after they occur. There are various brushes and combs available for different types of fur and dog coats. Get the ones appropriate for your dog and the condition of his fur. If you aren’t sure,  ask a groomer or your vet for a product recommendation.

When all else fails, sometimes removing extreme matted fur may require the use of scissor or shavers. Use them carefully! Blunt nosed scissors will keep you from poking your dog.

If your dog is impatient with mat removal or it causes discomfort, reward them for sitting still with some CANIDAE Grain Free Treats. They may not understand what you are doing when you’re removing the mats, but a positive reward may help theDog-Animated-no-offerm cope and make your grooming work a bit easier. Work calmly and carefully while you remove even the smallest mats. Praise your dog for behaving during a grooming session.

Be patient and work through the mats slowly. Do not try to rush the process. Don’t pull or yank the mats and make your dog uncomfortable. Large mats may require removing one section of clumped fur at a time and working through the matt until it is all gone. In cases of really bad matting, you may have to shave off the offending areas.

If your dog’s fur has a lot of mats, it may be necessary to do several short sessions rather than one long one. This will help your dog deal with the possible stress of mat removal. Have a helper to keep your dog distracted or to help control an unwilling dog.

Be honest with yourself; if you really can’t do the job patiently and properly, it’s best to take your dog to a professional groomer who is equipped to remove the mats correctly and efficiently.

Top photo by Taro the Shiba Inu/Flickr
Bottom photo by Twistin/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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