Matted dog hair is unsightly, annoying for your dog, and sometimes carries an unpleasant odor. If your dog has matted hair, you’re probably wondering what to do about it, why it happens, and most importantly, “Does matted hair hurt dogs?”
We’ll break down the what, why, and how of managing matted dog hair and answer this pressing question below.
First, let's get to it: is matted dog hair painful?
So, if your family pet or a local stray is suffering from matted dog hair problems, does matted hair hurt dogs?
The short answer is yes. Not only is matted hair physically painful for your dog, but it can also cause further health complications if left untreated. Here are some reasons why:
- Think about twisting your hair into a mat that goes all the way to the base of your scalp. Then, let those mats pull on your scalp throughout the day. It will hurt!
- Mats can cause skin damage and skin irritation due to the tension and dryness they create on the skin's surface.
- Mats often become homes to fleas and other pests, including parasites.
- In extreme cases, matted coats can cut off the blood supply to the skin, cause bruising, or open sores.
As these mats pull and tug at your dog’s skin, your dog might try to relieve the pain and itch of tangled hair and damaged skin through biting, scratching, or chewing. This can cause further damage and more pain.
Your dog might also lick the areas that are matted in order to relieve some of the discomfort. This can spread bacteria and surface infection under their matted fur. All in all, mats are painful for your dog and can be harmful in other ways too.
So, how does dog hair get matted in the first place?
Dogs start collecting mats in their fur from not being properly groomed. Pets need a regular grooming routine to help manage the dirt and foreign objects that hair naturally collects from rolling in the dirt and playing outside. Fur can easily pick up seeds, burs, thatch, and small sticks from nature. In fact, many plant seeds are designed to stick to animal fur in order to travel to new locations and propagate future plants.
Some have more difficulty with matted fur than others. Sometimes, this is due to the dog’s fur type. Certain breeds of dogs have thicker fur, some with undercoats, and some that shed more than others. Dogs with curly hair are more prone to matted fur. So are dogs who always wear a collar or harness.
Sometimes, a dog’s undercoat can begin to shed when the seasons change, which gets tangled in the outer layer of fur when not brushed. Moisture and dirt can also cause mats, and so can high friction areas like under their legs and behind the ears.
The bottom line is, your dog needs your help to manage fur loss and to prevent matting. Waiting too long to groom can make the process very painful and stressful for your furry friend.
How to manage your matted dog hair problems
Okay, so you’ve got a pet or are caring for a stray with matted fur issues. What’s the best approach?
Managing your pet’s matted hair should be done delicately, and your best approach depends on the severity of the issue. It’s often better just to shave the affected area than it is to try to comb through it because combing might cause even more pain and damage. Your pet’s coat will grow back naturally and can be better taken care of as it grows.
If you decide to shave your pet’s fur, this should be done carefully. Your dog might be fearful of the sound of clippers, or sensitive to touch in the area where matting has occurred. Be sure to reassure your pet throughout the process, help them feel safe, and be gentle with them.
If you’re not sure you’re up for the task, check out our list of wonderful Charlotte-area professional groomers that can help you out. These professionals will have the correct tools, like a grooming table and matting comb, as well as the knowledge to keep your pet safe, calm, and comfortable throughout the process.
For smaller grooming tasks that don’t require shaving the entire coat, you’ll need the right grooming brush for your pet’s excess hair. Brushing through tangles can also be painful and stressful for your fur baby, so be patient with them throughout the process.
Be mindful that brushing a single location repeatedly can cause brush rashes, so be gentle but thorough even with mild hair mats. If the fur is actually matted and not just tangled, it is unlikely you’ll be able to comb through them.
It is not recommended to use scissors to cut through the matted fur, because pets often do not stay still enough to avoid getting cut. Remember, the skin underneath the mat is also likely very sensitive if not already damaged, so avoiding further damage to the skin is important.
Avoid future dog hair matting problems
Once you or your groomer have cleared the mats from your pet’s fur and treated the skin for any dryness, sores, pests, parasites, or infections that might be present, it’s important to prevent future matting problems and keep the coat healthy.
Ask your veterinarian how often your dog needs to be groomed, based on their breed and coat type. Be sure to keep your dog clean and dry once they come in from the outdoors, and shampoo them regularly to avoid further matting. Once you’ve removed their collar and harness, brush your pet each time they come in from the outdoors, making sure they have a dry coat before you begin.
During the spring and early summer, expect your pet’s coat to need more attention than usual as the weather gets warm and they shed their undercoat. Be prepared for more frequent grooming during that time, and expect that your dog might need a new grooming routine if you move to a new climate.
Give your pet the beautiful coat they deserve and keep them safe and comfortable with regular brushing sessions and proper grooming. Stay up to date with all of your pet care needs, tips and tricks on our blog, where you can find your favorite Charlotte groomer and more on our resources pages.