Taking care of your pet's grooming needs can be challenging especially if they have long fur. Our New Iberia vets are here to talk about why pets get matted hair and how to prevent it from happening.
Why Pets Get Matted Hair
There are several reasons why your pet's hair gets matted, here are the most common reasons:
While unsightly and frustrating to deal with, in most cases, matted fur is the result of one common reason—the absence of grooming.
Individual hairs rub together every time your pet moves and unless the coat is short or brushed regularly, mats are going to form. The frequency of brushing needed depends on the length of the coat, the coat type (curly vs. straight, soft vs. wiry, etc.), and the activity level of the pet. Pets get matted fur either from having long fur that is not combed out frequently or in cats, it’s more common when they stop grooming themselves due to discomfort or illness.
Often older cats who develop arthritis and general systemic illness show a decrease in self-grooming and, therefore, start to matte. Cats with diabetes, cancer, and/or kidney disease are known to have unkempt fur that is more prone to matting.
In dogs, it’s more often related to a lack of appropriate grooming from the owner, as dogs with long or thick coats rarely self-groom effectively. Also keep in mind that non-shedding, long-haired pets, like Poodles or Doodle breeds, or those with a thick undercoat are more prone to matting, and therefore will likely have extensive grooming needs.
Other Causes of Matted Fur
Besides a lack of grooming, a few other factors may cause your pet’s mats to form more easily or to get worse, says Strong. Matted fur is frequently seen in obese pets. If a cat, in particular, is too obese to properly groom herself, she will end up with mats in hard-to-reach areas like across the lower back.
Strong says that these environmental factors can also lead to an increase in matting:
- Static electricity
- Dry climates
- Winter season
Dangers of Matted Hair in Dogs and Cats
While the effect of mild hair mats is usually minimal, matting can lead to pain and skin infections—similar to hot spots. Severe matting can cause discomfort or even damage to the underlying skin or joints, depending on the location.
Sometimes the matting will constrict a limb, and you can even have damage such as deep wounds, swelling of the feet, or bedsore-like injuries. Matting may also hide underlying problems like fleas and skin conditions.
How To Remove Matted Fur From Dogs & Cats
A mat, as opposed to a tangle, can't be combed out. When removed with combs, you just don’t make enough progress, and the pet will lose patience or can cause injuries and discomfort.
Here are some tips for dealing with mats on your pet.
Don't wet their fur
If you’re interested in trying to remove your pet’s mats at home, our New Iberia vet suggests starting with a dry pet, since dry hair is often easier to shave. Additionally, if the coat becomes wet while it’s matted, the matting will become tighter and more extensive.
Use the right tools
One of the best ways to remove mats is with clippers. Scissors are not recommended because pets don’t always stand completely still. You could easily cut your pet since mats are stuck so close to the skin’s surface.
For cats, using a shedding tool can be helpful, but electric clippers should be your second resort if the shedding tool alone doesn’t work.
Be careful with clippers
Use clippers that are made for pets and follow the instructions included with the clippers. Make sure your clipper blades don't get too hot. You should continue to check the metal piece with your hands to make sure it will not burn your pet’s skin. Also, make sure the clippers are disinfected after use with an appropriate “clippercide” to avoid bacterial and fungal infections.
Clippers can also irritate the skin, so you should contact your veterinarian if you see any of these:
- Red, raised bumps
- Any signs of pain in your pet
- Bleeding during grooming
Always bathe your pet after
Once you’ve removed the mats with a clipper, shampooing and conditioning the coat and then drying thoroughly and combing out the entire coat again can help to prevent the mattes from forming again.
How To Prevent Matting in Pets
Long-term mat prevention requires proper and consistent grooming practices, so it’s important to keep up with the combing and brushing as needed.
Make sure to brush your pet two or three times a week to ensure new mattes are being brushed out before they have time to become impossible to brush out. If you find that your pet is getting matted frequently, you can try adding a de-matting spray to your at-home grooming routine to help keep your pets fur tangle-free.
If you're having trouble keeping your pet's fur matte free, contact our professional grooming staff at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.