How you groom a matted dog will depend on the severity of the matting. If there are only a few matts in various places the matts can probably be removed without having to shave the whole dog.
If the matting is severe there is no option but to shave the dog. Humanity before vanity. Even if you could dematt a dog that is in a severely matted condition it would be very uncomfortable or even painful for the dog. You would probably irritate and inflame the skin. Also, the coat would be so damaged that it is simply not worthwhile.
Therefore, the first step is to determine whether you should detangle and remove any knots and matts or to shave the dog off.
Is it bad for a dog to be matted?
The short answer is yes, matting and knots not only cause the dog discomfort but can cause serious health problems. Matting can cause bacterial infections as they trap moisture and cause damage to the skin.
With no exchange of air, the skin underneath the mat oozes with all kinds of disgusting matter that soaks into the mat. This, in turn, causes the mats to smell really bad. Insect larvae such as maggots can form in this situation. If the infection gets into the dog’s bloodstream it can be fatal.
Matting can quite often occur in very sensitive areas on your dog. For example in the armpits, groin, behind the ears and over the anus. If your dog is unable to poop because the anus is blocked it can lead to serious problems also.
What causes matting of a dog’s fur?
Matting can occur for a number of reasons;
- as a dog sheds undercoat it can get caught up in the guard coat.
- when a dog gets wet the tangles and existing matts in the coat trap the water and tighten the knot as the coat drys. This is why it is crucial to brush your dog before and after a bath.
- if a dog is scratching or licking a lot it will cause tangles and matts to form. This may be caused by a dog having a skin irritation or fleas.
The best solution to matting in a dogs coat is prevention. It is important to brush your dog regularly to not allow matts to become a problem in the first place. How often will vary from breed to breed and type of coat For more on why, frequency, how and what to use read the “How to brush a dog”.
How to detangle matted dog hair
There are several simple techniques to remove any knots and matts in your dog’s coat depending on how big the matt is and how tight and close to the skin it is.
Use you slicker brush to locate the knot. Check to see how tight the matt is to the skin. If the matt is not tight on the skin gently brush the matt with a slicker brush to loosen.
Hold the matt at the base so you finger protects the skin. Generally, it is better not to brush the same area with a slicker with more than 10 strokes as it may irritate the skin and even cause brush burn.
Use your de-matting tool or finger to pick the knot apart and finally use you steel comb to remove any tangle remaining.
If it is a tight matt and close to the skin use scissors to cut the top of the matt off, then pick apart with your fingers or slicker brush.
Then use your de-matting comb to splice the matt. Don’t pull or rip the knot out. As you feel resistance, roll your wrist and splice the tangle.
Finally run your steel comb through to ensure the matt is completely gone. Never try to cut under the matt as it is highly likely you will cut your dog. You can also use the point of your scissors to slice through the middle of the knot. Then once it is broken up use your de-matting tool and steel comb to finish it off. Always splice away from your dog and yourself to avoid injury to them or you.
You can also use thinning scissors to break a matt down. This doesn’t leave scissor marks and you can’t see where the knot was removed. Then finish removing the matt with your slicker brush and dematting comb. Finally run a steel comb through to ensure matt is completely gone.
If your dog is severely matted over a large area of the coat it is often better to clip them off. Even if it is possible to completely de-matt them it would be uncomfortable for them.
Some areas are very sensitive so it may be better to clip the knot such as under the armpit, groin and around the anus as the skin is very thin and can tear easy.
How to shave a matted dog
If your dog is severely matted and you are not experienced and confident with using clippers I recommend you take the dog to a professional groomer.
A matted dog is not the best way to learn how to use clippers. It can very easy to cut a dog with severe matting especially in the sensitive and vulnerable areas such as in the armpits and inside front legs, the groin and the rear end.
So if you are looking on the internet for how to shave a matted dog it is probably best to leave it to a professional.