Dog grooming is an essential part of dog care and maintenance. Regular grooming sessions help you show your love and care to your pet, sealing the bond between you and him. Grooming also helps you keep your dog clean and happy. It is essential to prevent matted hair, which must not be taken lightly. Not only does matted hair in dogs look unsightly; it also leads to yeast infections, foul odor and pain. Matted hair houses debris, bacteria, ticks and fleas and can cause serious infections. Let us study some tips to deal with dog’s matted hair behind the ears, on the hind paws and in the belly area.
What are causes of matted hair?
The causes of matted hair are pretty straight forward: lack of regular combing and brushing. Long haired dogs need daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats. Some dogs with double coats need at least once-a-week brushing. Short haired dogs with single coats hardly need any brushing other than in the shedding season.
Another, little known cause of matted hair is omega 3 essential fatty acid deficiency. Dogs with low Omega-3 tend to develop coarse coats. If the hair is long, then they get easily tangled if the dog is left unkempt and un-groomed for weeks.
Bathing is essential to keep pet’s coat clean but during bathing, shampooing can lead to matted tangles. It is therefore important to use pet conditioner to prevent mats in long and medium haired dog breeds.
Signs of infection due to matted hair
Clumps of hair can breed bacteria and fungi making your pet susceptible to infections. The painful clumps and tangles of hair between toes can make it very painful for your dog to walk properly. Here are some signs of infection caused by matted dog hair on legs, tail and behind the ears:
- Foul odor
- Matted hair on tail leads to a waxy secretion and buildup of sebum. This could lead to hair loss over time. Normally the lesions start at about 2 cm just below the tail head. The hair loss may be scaly, greasy and cause an increased darkening of the skin.
- Painful signs such as limping if the mats are present in paws.
Is matted hair considered as dog abuse?
Owners who let their dog’s fur get painfully matted so much so that it causes infections can even be jailed. There have been cases where owners have been charged with negligence owing to unkempt and matted dogs. A severely abused dog named Cheeky had serious matting on her paws that led to amputation. This case got attention of animal lovers from across the world and people were shocked by this criminal negligence.
Preventing matted hair
- A healthy, well balanced diet is beneficial for healthy, shiny coat devoid of mats and tangles.
- Talk to your vet if your pet’s coat is looking dull and lackluster. If needed, provide supplements rich in linoeic acid, Omega 3 essential fatty acids and biotin. Always speak to a vet before using supplements of any kind. A dose of 500-3000 mg of fish oil or omega 3 fatty acids is beneficial depending on the size of your dog. Please check out my article on fish oil for dogs for more information.
- Brush and comb your dog daily. This may seem like a chore but it is essential to prevent mats and tangles. Plus your pet will love the attention and the time s/he spends with you during the session.
- Bathe your dog once a month-at least. Dogs with dirty coats will need frequent bathing.
- Matted hair can harbor bacteria, fungi and parasites. So clean out the mats gently. If needed, you will need professional grooming. Severe mats can develop infections. In very sad and horrific cases, limbs of dogs have had to be amputated due to infection caused in matted dog hair.
- If your dog has severe mats that cannot be undone by brushing or combing, use dog clippers to cut them off.
- Matted hair behind the ears could require use of special saw-like clippers for removal.
- Trim the matted hair on paws. You can even trim the excess hair on all four paws to prevent mats.
- Always get your pet used to grooming right from puppyhood.
Matted dog hair before and after pictures
How to groom a dog with matted hair
Step 1: Gather the tools you need:
- Dematting comb with 2-sided grooming rake
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Detangling spray
- Silicone shampoo brush
- Leave-in detangling treatment if your pet is susceptible to mats and tangles
Step 2: Prepare for grooming
You might have to muzzle your dog. After all; some dogs won’t hesitate to bite their humans, especially ones not used to being groomed. You also need a large table for grooming your pet. By placing your pet on a table, the chances of their jumping or trying to run away reduce.
Step 3: Start by gently brushing the hair.
Never use force to pull out severe mats. Be gentle. Be mindful about your dog’s comfort. If s/he appears to be in pain, stop. In case of painful matted hair behind ears, use clippers to gently remove the tangles.
Step 4: Always carry out clipping before bathing your pet.
Now, you can bathe your dog. Get him into a tub large enough for him to sit or stand comfortably. Wet his fur completely. Apply shampoo by diluting it first. There are many two-in-one detangling shampoos and conditioners available for severely matted pet hair. Leave the product in for a few minutes. Use a silicone shampoo brush to evenly distribute shampoo throughout the wet fur. The shampoo gently loosens mats and tangles. You may now wash and rinse the fur thoroughly. Repeat if needed. If the shampoo does not contain conditioner, apply it post rinsing. You can also use a detangling leave-in conditioner spray.
Step 5: Regular maintenance
Apart from daily brushing and combing, use a leave-in deep-conditioning and detangling spray all over your pet’s fur to reduce matting and tangling. These products also deodorize, moisturize and soothe the skin. Be proactive about grooming.
Coconut oil for matted dog hair
There are a couple of ways in which you can use coconut oil to remove mats and tangles from dog hair:
- Apply coconut oil all over the matted area. Gently brush the coat using a dematting comb or brush. Distribute the oil all over the fur.
- Let it sit overnight.
- Bathe your pet the next day. Use detangling, deep conditioning shampoo that loosens knots.
Alternatively, you can add coconut oil to warm water and pour this over the pet’s fur as final rinse after bath. This will also help you treat dog’s matted hair infection. If matted hair is extremely painful, shave the hair first then soothe the skin with coconut oil.