How to Untangle Matted Dog Hair with Grooming Tools

Brushing or combing out mats and tangles can cause any dog a great deal of discomfort. Your first step to avoid pain to your pet is to stop pulling on mats of hair after you find them. Instead, to gently remove tangles and mats, go through this process:

  1. Spray the mat with detangle solution and use a comb to slowly work the hairs in the mat free.

    Work from the outside of the mat (where the hair isn’t tangled) and slowly untangle the hair. Hold the base of the mat (closest to your dog’s skin) as you work to avoid pulling your dog’s skin.

  2. Try a mat rake if the mat doesn’t come out with the comb.

    Rake gently through tangled fur with a mat rake.
    Rake gently through tangled fur with a mat rake.

    You use the mat rake the same way you do a comb, simply raking along the lay of the hair. Mat rakes are equipped with sharp teeth that work at cutting through the mat.

  3. If the mat rake doesn’t cut it (so to speak), try using a mat splitter.

    Section off a mat with a mat splitter, then work through the smaller tangles.
    Section off a mat with a mat splitter, then work through the smaller tangles.

    Mat splitters can be razor sharp, so use them with care. Start by splitting the mat of hair in horizontal or vertical strips and then using either a mat rake or a comb to tackle those smaller pieces individually. Watch to make sure no skin is pulled up into the mat as you work.

  4. If the rake and the splitter both fail, use electric clippers (any blade should work) to slowly shave away the mat.

    Consider clippers only as a last resort. Shaving a mat away can leave a bare patch that will ruin a show coat until it can grow out again.

    Short of that, you can also ask a professional groomer or veterinarian to help you get rid of the mat.

Never use scissors to cut out a mat or a knot, because you can seriously injure your dog, even if you are careful about it. If you don’t have grooming clippers, ask a vet or a professional groomer to remove the mat for you. Most are happy to remove the mat or knot at little or no charge.

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