Matted fur just doesn’t look bad; it can be incredibly painful for your dog as well. That’s because matted fur prevents much-needed oxygen and moisture from reaching the skin, putting pressure on and weakening it, which could potentially cause inflammation and other issues. Additionally, fleas and other parasites love matted fur and gather there when present.

Dogs are notoriously stoic, and they will often not tell their owners if they are in pain. It is up to you, the owner, to make sure your dog is groomed and does not have matted fur anywhere on their body. Your dog will show their appreciation with kisses and a wagging tail.

First, let’s take a second and talk about how fur gets matted in the first place. The most common reason is due to the presence of old, loose fur that hasn’t been completely removed through brushing or combing. The new fur that is growing to replace the old fur can get caught up with the old fur, causing fur mats. If the issue isn’t addressed, the fur mats will continue to grow and damage the skin. Areas where there is a lot of movement or rubbing are more prone to fur mats. The easiest way to prevent fur mats is through regular brushing of the dog’s coat.

If you notice fur mats on your four-legged best friend, you have a decision on your hands. If the fur mat is small, you can try to untangle it yourself using your fingers and grooming supplies for dogs, like detangling spray and a comb and/or slick brush. Experts recommend using short strokes on the fur mat, so there is less risk of damaging the skin. Also, never use scissors as you run the risk of cutting your dog and potentially causing an infection.

However, if the fur mats are large and complex, your best bet is to go to the professionals. A professional groomer or veterinarian may need to shave the dog’s fur off completely to address the fur mats if the situation is bad enough. Whatever the determination, professional groomers and veterinarians will provide the best hope to minimize your pup’s suffering and ensure they can enjoy a healthy, untangled coat now and into the future.