Skin Problems After Matted Hair in Dogs

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Matted hair on a dog is more than a grooming issue. Seriously matted hair can cause skin problems. If your dog is double coated, mats can form on the topcoat -- where they are more obvious -- or the denser undercoat, where they are more easily missed. If a dog is seriously matted, take him to a veterinarian or professional groomer rather than trying to remove the mats yourself.

Tip

  • Long-haired dogs are more likely to mat than shorter-haired canines, and those with silkier or curlier coats are more vulnerable. Mats on these dogs form quite easily on the ears, the back of their legs and under their armpits.

Matting Skin Problems

Matting often results in skin issues because the matted hair holds in moisture, making it a prime site for bacteria, fungi and yeast infections to take hold.

  • Depending on the site of the mat, fecal matter, urine or foreign objects can get trapped in the hair, causing skin irritation. 
  • Long-term matting can change the color of the skin beneath the mat or cause permanent skin thickening. 
  • Maggots can infect a wound beneath the mat. In worst-case scenario, the mat cuts off circulation, especially common in heavy matting on the tail or legs. That could result in amputation

After dematting, a veterinarian may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics or other medications to treat infected lesions. Serious wounds may take a considerable amount of time to heal.

Mat Removal

Your vet or groomer can clip out severe mats without causing pain to your dog. Still, your pet may require sedation. The dematting process is time consuming, so expect to pay a premium.

Warning

  • Don't try to remove any heavy mats by yourself with scissors. You can easily harm your pet by cutting into his skin.

Mat Prevention

Spare your dog any health issues from skin infections or pain from mat removal by regularly brushing him. Depending on the amount of hair your dog has and the tendency to form mats, he may require a thorough grooming once a week or once a day. Your vet or groomer can recommend the right types of grooming tools to use on your dog's coat.

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