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What Causes Mats
Fur mats for a variety of reasons. Mats tend to occur wherever there is rubbing or movement, such as between the legs, under the chest and tail or around the ears or collar. Matting also can occur when old, loose fur is not completely brushed or combed out. If left unattended, even more old fur can get caught up with the new, growing fur, and the mats will simply get larger, tighter and closer to the skin. If your dog leads a very active outdoor lifestyle, you also run the risk of burrs, leaves and other outdoor materials getting caught up in his fur, as well.

Why Mats Are Bad
Matted fur is damaging to your dog’s skin as it prevents oxygen and moisture from reaching his skin. Also, the clumps of fur put pressure on the skin, weakening it. Mats also can become a breeding ground for parasites.

How to Remove a Mat
If the mat isn’t too big or tight, the best way to tackle it is to gently work it apart with your fingers, then comb out the smaller tangles with a brush or metal comb. Using an oil-based detangling spray will help to comb through the fur. Hold the fur below the tangle (next to skin) and gently separate the tangle into smaller pieces. Use short, fast strokes with a comb and then with a slicker brush. This way there’s less pulling on the skin, which can be painful!

Never try to cut out a mat with sharp, pointed scissors. Because mats occur close to the skin, and because you can’t really see what you are doing as a result, it’s very easy to cut into the skin and cause excessive bleeding and a wound that may even need stitching. Even if you just knick the skin, which may hardly be noticeable, it can get infected.

When to Seek Professional Help
Removing badly matted fur can be painful to your dog. And, often, if the situation is very bad, his entire coat will have to be shaved. This is definitely a job for a professional pet stylist or veterinarian both of whom have the tools and the knowledge about how to remove them efficiently without stressing or injuring your pet in the process. When you book your appointment, also ask for advice about the correct shampoo, detangling conditioners and sprays that you can use at home as part of your regular grooming routine.

How to Prevent Mats
Regularly brushing your dog’s fur is the No. 1 way to help keep mats at bay. Be sure to run your fingers through his coat so that you can feel any clumps of fur that may be below the surface.