If your dog has a thick, furry coat, some matting is inevitable. And now you might be wondering how to get mats out of dog hair.
Mats are more than an aesthetically displeasing quirk of your dog’s coat. Left untreated, they can be painful. In the worst-case scenario, they cause health problems for your dog.
We will talk you through how to get mats out of dog hair. But before we dive in, let’s explore what causes mats to form in the first place.
Before you scroll down this guide, “How to Get Mats out of Dog Hair,” try these topics: Shaving a Goldendoodle – Step by Step Guide! and Best Brush for a Labradoodle – Top 9 Picks! (2023).
What Causes Mats in Your Dog’s Hair?
Mats are tangles or knots of fur.
Typically, they begin as a knot and grow from there. Initially, they may be too small to see. But if you routinely groom your dog, you may find your brush snags on a mat.
They can become especially problematic if your dog is a seasonal shedder. As their coat changes, dogs shuck their former fur, and if you aren’t regularly grooming your dog, the shed fur builds up in the undercoat and creates mats.
Furthermore, the bigger a mat becomes, the more problematic it can be. That’s because as mats grow, they tighten. If you aren’t careful, they quickly develop from unsightly tangles to something that cuts off your dog’s circulation. Alternatively, they may break the skin and expose your dog to secondary infections.
Where to Look for Mats in Your Dog’s Coat
One of the best ways to prevent mats is to know where to look for them. As a rule of thumb, a mat can appear anywhere. That’s true of any dog, but especially of long-haired dogs, like Poodles, because they have hair, not fur.
The main difference is that while fur sheds, hair grows indefinitely. It’s part of what makes some breeds hypoallergenic, but a hair-based coat also requires consistent grooming if you want to avoid mats and tangles.
And while mats can occur anywhere, there are some places where you are more likely to spot them. These include:
- Under the arms
- Base of tail
- Behind ears
- On the belly
As you look for mats, remember that if you find a site that looks red, irritated, or inflamed, you should contact the vet immediately. That’s a sign that the mat has developed complications and requires expert care.
With that in mind, here’s how to get mats out of dog hair.
How to Get Mats Out of Dog Hair
So, how do you get mats out of a dog’s hair?
The first thing to do is gather your supplies. You will need:
Ensure Your Dog Is Comfortable
The first thing you need to do is make your dog comfortable. Removing mats from your dog’s coat requires time and patience. It also needs your dog to be still, and the best way to do that is to make them comfortable.
This can be difficult for young dogs or dogs not used to grooming. If it helps, you can try distracting your dog with a treat-filled kong. It keeps them occupied and allows you to focus on removing those mats.
Relax the Knot
The next step to de-matting your dog is to massage the mat. You want to try to break it down with your fingers.
Crucially, you should never pull on a mat. That causes them to tighten and makes the process more — not less — painful for your dog.
Once the mat begins breaking down, you can try brushing it. Carefully work to separate the mat from the surrounding fur. Again, you must be gentle. Being too rough will tighten the mat and cause auxiliary problems for your dog.
Hold the mat gingerly between your fingers and use a soft bristle brush. Remember, always brush sideways to dislodge the accrued hair. Switching directions will further break the mat down.
Use a Dematting Tool
If a standard bristle brush doesn’t remove the mat, it’s time to involve a de-matting tool.
Again, keeping your fingers under the mat will minimize pain. As before, go slowly. If you aren’t careful, you will snag the dog’s skin. Not only does that cause pain, but it may also create a negative association with grooming, making de-matting more difficult the next time you attempt it.
For mats that resist your comb, try using shampoo or conditioner to soften the fur.
However, if you decide to do this, you must avoid actively wetting the dog fur. Wet fur makes mats harder, not easier to remove. All you want to do is use your shampoo of choice to soften the hair and break down some of the tangles by lightly rubbing the mat between your fingers.
Always stop if you suspect your dog is in pain. Animals remember the trauma, and an uncomfortable grooming experience may make it harder to de-mat your dog in the future.
How to Get Tight Mats out of Dog Hair
Sometimes grooming isn’t enough. If the mat still won’t come out of your dog’s coat, it’s time to change your strategy.
But how do you get tight mats out of your dog’s fur if you can’t comb them?
The next step is to try trimming the mat. Here’s what you do.
If possible, lift the mat away from the skin.
Next, ease the clippers under the mat. Gently clip away the mat, taking care not to break your dog’s skin.
How much you trim depends on the severity of the mat. In extreme cases, you may have to cut the mat close to the skin, leaving a bald spot. It may not be the most flattering outcome, but the fur grows back quickly, and your dog will be more comfortable.
If you aren’t comfortable trimming the mat or find you can’t effectively remove it, it’s time to call a groomer. Their professional expertise will help you safely and effectively remove the mat.
Alternative Ways to Get Mats Out of Your Dog’s Fur
Before you get out the clippers, there are other things you can try to get a mat out of your dog’s fur.
Surprisingly, one of the most effective strategies when it comes to how to get mats out of a dog’s fur is to use cornstarch.
Before you start de-mating your dog, dust the mat with cornstarch. It helps break down the bonds between tangled strands of hair.
Additionally, it gives your brush something more to grip without pulling on your dog’s fur and worsening the mat.
Always hold the mat between your fingers, particularly taking care not to pull on it.
Note that corn starch is only effective against small mats. Larger, denser tangles require professional treatment. As ever, if you can’t budge the mat, call an expert.
Reminders for Getting Mats Out of a Dog’s Fur
Those are the various answers to how to get a tight mat out of your dog’s fur. But is there anything else you should know about the process?
Never Detangle Fur After a Bath
The most important rule about getting mats out of a dog’s fur is that you should never try and tackle the problem after a bath.
Human hair is at its most breakable when wet. But mats wind around a dog’s skin and tighten as they worsen. Attempting to de-mat a wet dog causes the mats to tighten and risks swelling, inflammation, or infection.
So, while it’s possible to use a grooming agent like shampoo to loosen a mat, you never want to mix it with water. All the shampoo is there for is to loosen any mats as you rub them between your fingers.
Treats Are Essential
Once you get the mats out, remember to reward your dog. Treats are an excellent way to do this, but toys can work too.
What’s important is that you cultivate positive associations with the experience of having mats detangled. That will help your dog stay relaxed while you work and tolerate repeat grooming sessions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dogs and their matted coats.
Initially, mats aren’t painful. But as they grow, they tighten around a dog’s skin. In extreme cases, they cut off circulation.
The sensation is painful and uncomfortable for your dog. That means you must keep on top of grooming and aim to catch mats as early as possible.
There are several ways to detangle severely matted dog hair. How you approach the problem depends on your level of grooming expertise.
For most owners, the safest thing to do is book an appointment with their local groomer.
However, you can also cut a mat away from your dog.
You need to cut extremely close to the skin, so only do this if you are confident you won’t nick your dog’s skin. You must also ensure your dog will stay still while you work.
If the mat you need to detangle isn’t tight, several things can loosen it. Try using shampoo, conditioner, or cornstarch.
Remember: Never combine these things with water, as that will make the mat worse, not better.
If you don’t want to cut a mat off your dog, the best thing to do is try combing it out. You’ll need a soft-bristle brush, steel comb, and loosening agent.
Ensure you go slow and take your time. Avoid pulling on the hair, as that tightens the mat and makes your job harder.
If nothing can detangle a mat, cutting it may be your only option.
Keeping your dog still, lift the mat and slide the clippers underneath it. How much you need to cut depends on the severity of the mat.
If you feel uncomfortable cutting a mat off yourself, call a groomer.
You get rid of a mat by combing it out or cutting it away. Both take significant amounts of time and patience.
You will also need proper grooming equipment if you want to effectively and painlessly detangle a mat. You will need dog clippers, a soft-bristle brush, de-matting tool, and conditioner, shampoo, or cornstarch.
Detangling matted fur should be as painless as possible.
Always be gentle handling mats. If you tug too hard, you can tighten the mat, increasing your dog’s discomfort. Loosening agents like conditioner or corn starch also help by making the mat easier to work with.
When done correctly, cutting matted hair does not hurt your dog. Because the mat can be painful, the act of cutting it away should make your dog feel more comfortable, not less.
But it can be difficult to do correctly, and there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone whose job it is to cut the mat away safely and professionally.
Conclusion for “How To Get Mats Out of Dog Hair: Fast and Easy Methods”
So, how do you get mats out of a dog’s hair? With substantial patience and lots of time.
The most important thing about removing mats from your dog’s coat is that the process is as painless as possible. Sometimes that means knowing when to let someone else take over.
Whether you end up combing or cutting out a mat, never forget to reward your dog’s tolerance. Above all, a treat goes a long way toward making de-mating a palatable experience for your pet.
If you find this guide, “How to Get Mats out of Dog Hair,” helpful, check out:
- Do Goldendoodles Get Matted? (2023)
- How to Keep Labradoodle From Matting! (2023)
- Best Shampoo for Matted Dog Hair! (2023)
You can learn more about this topic by watching “2 EASY WAYS to De-Mat your DOG at home NATURALLY” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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