How to Cut Matted Dog Hair Like a Pro
No pet parent wants to cuddle with a dog with matted hair. And while there are dogs that look more adorable with dreadlocks, most dogs don’t. Besides, hair mats can predispose the dog to a number of skin problems such as hot spots, skin irritations, and infections. This is not to mention that dirty, rug-like look that gives the image of a neglected hound. No one wants to be called an irresponsible pet parent. As such, it is always wise to know how to cut and manage the matted hair of your favorite pet. Here’s how:
Prepare the Right Tools
It is important to understand that there’s a difference between tangles and mats. One can always differentiate the two in terms of their severity. Tangled hair is often a lot easier to deal with, to “untangle”. Matted fur, on the other hand, is much more difficult to manage. This is because the tangling of the fur has grown to the extent that they’ve formed a ball of hardened pet fur. That’s why managing matted fur almost always involves “cutting” into the massive ball of fur. You are going to need these tools.
- Detangling Brush
A slicker brush is ideal in the removal of tangles since it comes with stiffer-than-usual teeth or tines. A deshedding tool also works wonders because of the heavy-duty construction of its teeth.
- Detangling Solution
There are solutions on the market that you can purchase. As an alternative, you can make your own detangling solution. A popular recipe includes a combination of apple cider vinegar, lavender essential oil, and distilled water. You can use other essential oils. Some pet parents also add olive oil or jojoba oil.
- Mat Rake
This is a device that looks like a garden rake, although there are some that look like an ordinary pet comb. The main difference, of course, is that the tines are thicker, stiffer, and have a sharp tip. The sharp tips of the rake can cut through matted hair.
- Mat Splitter
Resembling a barber’s straight razor, a mat splitter is the second-to-the-last-resort in cutting matted dog hair. It is like a very special folding knife that you use to “split” a mat into two smaller mats. Smaller mats are a lot easier to work with than a large clump.
- Pet Clipper
For severe mats that one cannot manage with a mat splitter, only a pet clipper will do. This will shave the coat of your pet, making it look like a puppy all over again. As such, it is often the tool-of-last-resort. Use only the pet clipper when everything else has failed.
Determine the Location of the Tangles and Mats
Pay special attention to the parts of the dog’s body where friction is a constant. Tangles and mats develop because of the rubbing between strands of fur. Hence, these often develop in the dog’s neck where its collar stays. You may also have matting on the area under its ears, in the armpits, on its belly, its legs, and the tail. It is also ideal if you can determine whether these are already mats or mere tangles.
Work on the Tangled Hair With Your Fingers
Work with the tangles first. Try separating the strands of fur with your fingers. If they don’t separate, spritz some of the detangling solution. Make sure to saturate the “tangles” and give the solution a couple of minutes to work its wonder. You may also want to saturate the matted areas with the detangling solution. This way, the individual strands will start to loosen up while you’re working on the tangles. After a couple of minutes, try separating the tangled strands with your fingers. If this doesn’t work, use a slicker brush to help remove the tangles. Work in small sections at a time. Don’t rush as this might result in more tangles.
Use a Mat Rake
Once you’re done with the tangles, you can focus on the mats. For obvious reasons, your fingers won’t work in managing such a hairy mess. That is why you will need to use a mat rake. Be very careful when using a mat rake as the tips of the tines are quite sharp. You may hurt your dog or cause skin irritation if you’re not careful. Use the mat rake as you would any other brush.
Use a Mat Splitter
Unfortunately, there will always be mats that a mat rake won’t cut. Hence, you will need a mat splitter. The sharp edges of the splitter can cut through matted fur and produce “smaller” mats. Always apply a detangling solution onto the matted pet hair to help in the dematting process. When using a mat splitter, always follow the direction of growth of fur. Be careful not to injure the pet.
Bring Out the Pet Clipper
As mighty as the mat splitter is, there will be mats that are more stubborn. You’re left with no choice but to shave your pet’s coat. Make sure to plan how you want to “shave” the dog so you can still make it presentable. If you decide to shave the entire coat of the dog, it’s best to start at its tail and work your way towards the head. It’s much less stressful for the dog this way.
Give the Pet a Bath
It is important to be 100% sure that there are no more mats on your dog before you give it a bath. Mats act like a sponge when wet. As such, bathing your pet with matted fur can lead to more severe matting. When bathing the pet, use only a shampoo that’s safe for pets. A separate conditioner should also help in nourishing the dog’s coat while helping to make the strands a lot slicker.
After bathing, make sure to dry your dog’s coat very well. Do not rub a towel over its coat. Rubbing produces friction which, in turn, leads to hair tangles. There are pet hair dryers that can hasten the speed of drying the animal’s coat. Finish it up with a good brushing session.
Cutting and managing matted hair in dogs is not difficult. You only need the right set of tools and a clear understanding of what you need to do.