If you have a pet with medium to long hair, you probably already know that you need to keep up with their grooming to prevent matted fur.
Many pet owners choose to utilize the services of a professional groomer, which is a great option if you aren’t sure how to groom your pet or you can’t keep up with your pet’s needs.
Others choose to groom their animals themselves. It is important that if you choose this option, you know how to reduce matting and how to remove matted fur when it occurs. Some pet owners don’t know that matted fur can be dangerous. Read on to find out more about this.
Why Fur Mats
If you have a long-haired dog, their fur will often become matted if it is not brushed regularly. Even dogs with medium-length fur can develop some matting when they go through their seasonal shedding period. As their skin oils mix with the fur, it tends to clump together. If a mat starts, it will begin to entangle more fur, creating a bigger mat. This can happen quickly.
Most cats will groom themselves and will do a decent job of preventing mats. For long-haired cats, however, self-grooming will not be enough. Also, even short- or medium-haired cats can develop mats if they are not grooming themselves well. A cat that isn’t grooming might be sick, depressed, or otherwise dealing with some type of problem, as this is instinctual behavior. Some cats that were taken from their mothers very early might also not know how to self-groom effectively.
Dangers of Matted Fur
Matted fur is not only unattractive but also painful and potentially dangerous for your pet. As more hair gets tangled into the mat, it pulls on the skin, which causes pain when your pet is walking, sitting, or laying down. Depending on where the mat is located, it can interfere with your pet’s movements.
Fur will tend to get pulled from the skin and this can create sores and bleeding. As time goes by, these sores can get infected and abscess. Foreign objects such as seeds, leaves, and dirt can become embedded in the skin, creating more of a problem. In severe cases, your pet could develop an insect infestation in the infected area.
How to Prevent Matting
The easiest way to prevent matting is to brush or comb your pet daily. Long-haired pets might need to be combed out more often, particularly when they are shedding. Both cats and dogs can benefit from a monthly bath if they are prone to mats. Be sure to use a shampoo formulated for dogs or cats; don’t use human shampoo. Also, use a conditioner or detangler designed for pets that are prone to matting.
If you have trouble keeping up with your long-haired dog’s fur, getting him shaved is an option. This should be done by a groomer in most cases. Keeping the hair short will help prevent mats.
How to Treat Matting
If you brush your pet regularly, you should be able to catch small mats before they become larger. Use a comb to carefully and gently pick apart the mat. Your pet might or might not tolerate this well. If they are running away, distressed, or attempting to bite or scratch you, you may need to ask your veterinarian for help. In some cases, pets can be sedated to make mat-removal easier.
Do not try to cut the mat with scissors, because you run the risk of nicking or cutting your pet. Larger mats are often tight against the skin. In these cases, your veterinarian will need to remove it, likely under sedation.
If your pet has a lesion or abscess under a mat, the vet will need to treat that, too. In some cases, it might need to be surgically lanced. In others, a topical cream or oral antibiotics will be needed.
Some pets will become itchy and uncomfortable after a mat is removed; you will need to watch and be sure that they don’t further irritate the skin with licking or chewing. Your pet might need a cone collar (also called an Elizabethan collar) during the healing process if they are persistent about licking or biting at the area where the mat was.
Talk to your veterinarian about how to prevent mats in your pet if they have developed mats before. Some pets do better being shaved, and others will require an intensive grooming regimen. There are various products you can use to make the fur less likely to mat, but you will need to first get any mats under control, so work carefully with your veterinarian or groomer to create a plan that will work for your pet and for you.