How Do I Get Rid Of My Dog's Matted Hair?

No more tangles 💁‍♀️

dog with long hair getting brushed

If your dog has long, curly hair, matted fur might be your worst nightmare.

And matted fur can even be painful to your pup if it gets to be really bad, so it’s definitely important to keep up with your dog’s grooming routine to prevent his hair from getting tangled so severely.

The Dodo spoke to Daryl Conner, a professional dog groomer and owner of FairWinds Grooming Studio in Maine, to find out how to remove even the worst matted dog hair and what you can do to keep mats from coming back.

What’s matted dog hair?

Matted hair is when a dog’s hair gets extremely tangled and knotted. If the mats aren’t brushed, they trap more fur and become knotted even closer to the skin.

Mats occur often in dogs with curly, fine, long and double coats, especially if they’re not brushed or groomed frequently.

While it might seem like your dog just has some knots in his fur, matted hair can actually cause skin irritations and cover up other issues, such as fleas. Mats can attract parasites, too, and most of the time, you won’t even notice them.

Matting also traps moisture in your dog’s fur, which can lead to problems like hot spots. And it can be painful to your pup since the mats of fur put pressure on the skin, and in severe cases, they can cut off oxygen to your dog’s skin.

What causes matted dog hair?

Dogs can get matted fur in a few ways:

  • Loose fur that hasn’t been brushed gets caught in a dog’s coat — “One significant factor contributing to matting is when the undercoat sheds, and it can get caught in the top coat,” Conner told The Dodo.
  • Moisture that gets trapped in your dog’s coat — “Moisture contributes to matting, so if the dog gets damp walking in the grass or swims, mats can easily happen,” Conner said.
  • Friction — “The friction of a collar, harness or jacket rubbing on the fur can also encourage mats and tangles to form,” Conner said. Dogs can also get mats in areas that rub together, like under their legs or behind their ears.
  • Thick, long or curly fur — “Some coats are more prone to becoming tangled than others,” Conner said. “[For example,] the popular ‘doodles’ are prone to excessive matting.”
  • Things that get stuck in your dog’s coat — Objects that get stuck in your dog’s fur, like leaves or grass, can cause mats to form.
  • Lack of grooming

How to get mats out of dog hair

Mats can actually hurt your dog, so it’s important to check for them when brushing and remove them as soon as you find any.

“Matted fur left uncared for puts stress on the skin and is often painful to the pet,” Conner said.

Here’s how to get rid of matted fur.

Brush them out

If the mats in your dog’s fur aren't too bad, you can try to get them out by brushing or combing and working them apart with your fingers like you would for knots in your hair.

“Once mats have formed, it is possible that they can be carefully brushed out but may require a professional,” Conner said.

A detangling spray made for dogs can help, too. You can get this one from Amazon for $9.99.

And you can get this detangling dog comb from Amazon for $12.99.

Cut them out

If your dog’s fur is super matted, the mats may need to be cut out. “If matting is severe, attempting to brush them out is painful to the pet and may well cause skin irritation,” Conner said. “Clipping the dog close to remove the tangles may be necessary.”

If you’re going to try to cut the mat out yourself, you’ll need to use dog grooming scissors or clippers.

You can get these Andis clippers from Amazon for $118.99.

But keep in mind that cutting mats out of your dog’s fur on your own can be dangerous because mats form close to the skin, making it easy to accidentally cut your pup. And if your dog has tons of mats, he might even need to have his fur shaved.

So if you can’t get the mats out by brushing, it’s probably best to take your dog to a groomer or to the vet to get them professionally removed.

How to prevent matted dog hair

It’s best to prevent mats before they form by regularly brushing your pup.

“Regular brushing and combing will remove shedding hair and reduce matting,” Conner said.

Brushing your dog often is important to keep his coat healthy and clean. But how often you’ll need to brush your dog will depend on his fur type.

“It depends on the dog's coat type,” Conner said. “Dogs with longer fur need more regular sessions with a brush and comb, some as often as once a day, to keep mats and tangles at bay.”

So be sure to brush your dog often to keep his coat looking and feeling great and to prevent pesky mats from forming in the future.

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