Unfortunately, some dogs are just more prone to getting matted hair than others. Typically, breeds with soft and curly or wavy coats such as Poodles, Doodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Bichons; dogs with long, silky drop coats like Shih Tzus, Yorkies, Maltese, and Tibetan terriers; and double-coated dogs with thick undercoats: Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese mountain dogs - are all likely to experience more mats and tangles than other dogs.
A common cause of mats in dogs
A dog’s love of playing in the water creates wet hair, which tends to stick together. Before you know it, a mat appears. If your dog loves rolling and playing outdoors, he will likely pick up burrs, dry and cut grass, and sticks and leaves, which all can cause his coat to mat more quickly. The friction from sitting, lying, or wearing collars, harnesses, or clothing is another common culprit for mats and tangles.
This is all due to your dog's hair shafts becoming barbed. The more barbs on the hair shaft, the likelier their hair will matt.
When you find your dog has developed mats and tangles
Start working on them now before the situation gets completely out of hand. If you work the knots out early, they're relatively harmless and not too uncomfortable. But, as they grow, they can cause irritation, bruising and hematomas. If left too long, they can restrict airflow and trap moisture against the skin, leading to problems like bacterial and fungal infections.
Removing mats and tangles can be difficult
This is true especially if you have a dog who doesn't like to stand still. Plus, sensitive dogs won't appreciate you pulling on their coats, so they may not tolerate the procedure. You will need to work slowly and carefully to avoid causing your dog discomfort and pulling the hair and mat unnecessarily. Use high-quality treats during the process to help your dog associate grooming sessions with something pleasant.
Prevention is the best approach
Brush your dog daily to keep its coat clean and to prevent mats from developing. Tangles are usually avoidable with consistent grooming.
A mat is a painful tangle in the dog's undercoat. We cannot overstate how gentle you should be as you attempt to work apart a mat!
1. What you need. A good quality Detangler Spray like smith&burton Detangler Spray & Leave-in Conditioner - which helps loosen the hair caught up in mats and tangles, a comb, slicker brush and a mat splitting tool. If the mats and tangles are over the body you may need to give your dog a bath or shower afterwards, so have your shampoo, conditioner and towels nearby.
2. Find the mats, knots and tangles. Brush your dog with the slicker brush to locate mats and tangles. Mats often form in what is known as friction areas: behind the ears, under the collar, under the tail, and under the front and back legs. Long-haired dogs may also form tangles in their tails, ears and legs - especially inside the legs, as well as their armpits and paws.
Sometimes a coat will only have the occasional mat. In that case, you can focus on how you are going to remove these without putting the dog through too much stress.
3. Apply Detangler Spray to areas of the coat that are matted or tangled. Rub the product into and under all sides of the mat as much as possible. This will soften it, give it elasticity and make it slippery. Rub the product into the coat, so it penetrates the problem area. Allow it to sit for several minutes to really penetrate the hair and begin the softening process.
4. Use your fingers to work with the matted hair from the outside in, gently easing it apart a little bit at a time. Never pull or stretch the hair.
If the mat is large, or you can't break through the mat after working on it for a considerable amount of time, use the mat splitting tool to carefully slice the mat into narrower pieces, going in the direction of outside to in. You will find that smaller sections of hair will be less difficult to untangle. Be sure to cut in the direction the hair grows. Do not yank it through - small repetitive motions are more effective.
Put your hand on the mat when you brush to avoid pulling or making contact with your dog's skin.
5. Use your brush. When you have removed as much of the tangle or mat as you can, use the slicker brush to finish the job. Again starting from the outside and working your way in, to finish brushing out the mat. Brush in the direction the hair grows. For tangles, gently brush a few hairs at a time to separate them from the rest of the tangle, adding as much Detangler Spray as necessary to loosen the hairs.
6. Bath your dog. Once you have removed as many of the mats and tangles as you can, give your dog a bath. Using a soothing shampoo like smith&burton Soothing Collection can be used to help calm the skin. Be sure all the mats and tangles are gone before you get your dog wet, as water will make a tangle worse and a mat tighter and harder to get out.
7. Prevention. To help prevent mats and tangles from coming back, apply a Detangler like smith&burton Detangler Spray & Leave-in Conditioner. Spray to your dog's coat after he's completely dry.
8. Regular grooming is in your dog's best interest. Mats and tangles are detrimental to your dog's health, not only because they are uncomfortable, but, left unattended, severe matting can cause hematomas - a painful swelling of clotted blood in the ear tips.
First, give your dog a bath or shower regularly, as a clean dog is less likely to mat. Even if you can't wash them as often as you'd like, you can regularly brush your dog to help prevent matting.
Before brushing your dog, make sure you apply some moisture first with a spritzer or mister like smith&burton Cologne Collection or smith&burton Detangling Spray and Leave-in Conditioner, to help prevent static electricity and dryness which can both lead to tangled fur.
If your dog likes to swim
Put a Detangler Spray on him just before he goes into the water, to help prevent mats and tangles from forming.
Keeping your dog free of mats is, unfortunately, an ongoing task that begins by establishing a foundation of regular grooming. Dead hair is a breeding ground for mats. A coat that is brushed and clean stays in better condition and is less likely to develop mats.
What happens if you don't groom your dog
If you neglect your dog's coat which results in a particularly bad case of matting or tangling, he may need to go to a professional groomer for a clip. And if your dog develops a skin irritation or sores due to having things like leaves and burrs tangled in his coat, you may need to take him to your vet.
With the right dog grooming tools, products and procedures at your fingertips, though, you can keep mats and tangles at bay, even if your dog is prone to them. Your dog will be happier for the extra effort, and so will you.