What Are Mats on Dogs and How to Treat Them – Guide for Beginners

Like our hair owning different types, all dogs have other fur and coat types. Hence it’s no wonder that some dogs may suffer from what we call mats.

So what are mats? Mats come in many shapes and sizes, from tiny knots to large clumps of tangled fur. Whether we love or hate them, it’s essential to understand what mats are and how they can affect your pet’s health if left untreated.

If you’re beginning in the world of pet grooming, it’s crucial to understand what mats are, what causes them, and the best ways to treat and prevent them from returning.

In this guide, we’ll cover what mats on dogs are, the dangers associated with untreated mats, prevention tips for avoiding matting in your pet’s coat, and how to remove existing mats safely.

Let’s dive in!

What are Mats on Dogs?

Mats on dogs refer to tangled clumps of fur that look like felt-like mats and can form anywhere on the pet’s body, most commonly around the neck, chest, tummy, backside, or hind legs.

They can occur when the pet’s fur gets tangled due to a lack of regular grooming, moisture buildup, or an environment that encourages matting.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between matting and cording. Cording refers to tiny knots or tangles that are usually more localized and can be managed with regular brushing.

Mats, however, as its name suggests, are felt-like mats that cover larger areas of the pet’s body and require more intensive care to prevent them from worsening.

Additionally, some breeds are more prone to matting due to their breed’s type of coat, such as poodles, bichons frises, or any other dogs with curly coats.

Dangers of Untreated Mats

Though mats may look like simple fur i.e., an aesthetic issue, they can cause much more harm if left untreated.

Untreated mats can lead to discomfort and pain for the dog due to the tightness of the matting.

The clumps of fur stretch to the skin underneath and can pinch or pull on it. Imagine what it would feel like to have a tight elastic band around your wrist for long periods.

Even worse, your little friend may start to bite or scratch the area, leading to further skin damage and infections.

Sometimes matting can also cause difficulty in movement due to the tightness of their coat.

For example, a mat on the hind legs prevents your pup from bending its knee and walking properly.

How to Prevent Matting from Happening?

The best way to treat mats is by preventing them from occurring at all! Here are some tips for avoiding fur matting before it starts:

Brush your pet’s coat regularly:

Brushing regularly is one of the best ways to prevent matting in your pet’s coat.

Not only will your pets look gorgeous and feel comfortable with beautiful, sleek fur, but it can also help strengthen the connection between you and your beloved pet!

Regular brushing encourages overall health for both of you. Physical contact is known to release happy hormones that can make both of you feel great and help get rid of dead fur, dirt, and other debris.

Best of all, regular brushing means fewer trips to the groomer…which will save money too!

Choose the right shampoo and conditioner

To make sure you are giving your pup the best care possible, choose a shampoo specifically formulated for their fur type – whether that’s short or long hair, sensitive skin, or a non-irritating blend for all types.

Regarding conditioners, look out for ones with natural oils and botanicals that can help provide extra hydration and detangle their fur.

Keep an eye on the environment and humidity levels

Make sure to check the environment of where your pet lives. Areas with high humidity can make fur more prone to matting, so try to keep their living space dry and free from moisture buildup.

Check their favorite carpet or bed for signs of dampness, and adjust the air conditioning or ventilation system to ensure the area is not too humid.

Besides, bathing too often can also lead to matting, so limit how many baths your pup gets.

How to Safely Remove Existing Mats?

If your furry friend has already acquired some mats, don’t worry – you can help them out! Here are ways to safely remove existing mats:

Assessing the Severity of the Matting First

The first step in treating mats is to assess the severity of the matting.

If the matting is minor and only affects a small area of your pet’s fur, you may be able to remove it without needing additional tools.

However, if the matting is severe or widespread, you will likely need some special tools to help you safely remove them. 

Tools Needed for Safe Removal 

When it comes to removing mats, groomers use two main tools: scissors and clippers.

Scissors are best used on little mats that only affect a small area of your pet’s coat; they offer more control than clippers and allow precise cutting around sensitive areas such as eyes and ears.

Clippers should be used on larger or more severe mats; they work quickly and efficiently but should always be used cautiously to avoid accidentally cutting your pet’s skin. 

Take Use of Detangling Sprays or Conditioners 

To make detangling easier, consider using detangling sprays or conditioners before attempting to remove the matting.

These products contain ingredients that soften fur and make it easier to comb through knots without causing pain or discomfort for your pet.

Be sure to read all directions carefully before using these products; overuse can lead to buildup in your pet’s fur, which can attract dirt and debris over time. 

Consider Mat Breakers or De-matting Combs 

If you still have trouble with knotty mats, consider using a mat breaker or de-matting comb.

These combs are designed for removing stubborn knots from long coats without pulling too hard on the fur; they feature wide teeth that gently break apart tangles while smoothing stray hairs for a neat finish.

Treat the Skin Underneath

Finally, it’s important to remember to treat the skin underneath mats after removal.

Mats can cause friction and pull on the skin, leading to irritation and inflammation. Apply a gentle moisturizer or healing cream to the affected area to soothe any redness or discomfort.


1. Do Dog Foods Brands Matter?

Yes! Different dog food brands can vary in their ingredients, so it’s essential to look for one that offers a balanced diet with the proper nutrients and vitamins.

2. How Often Should I Brush My Dog?

It depends on their coat type; short-haired dogs typically need brushing once or twice.

3. Should I Go to a Hospital Or Pet Store to Buy Grooming Products?

It’s best to buy products at pet stores, as they’ll be specifically formulated for pets and won’t contain any harsh chemicals that may irritate their skin.

In addition, you’re also likely to find a larger selection of grooming products at pet stores than what you’d find in a hospital or drug store.

4. Will Labradors/Golden Retrievers/Poodles Get Mats?

Yes, all breeds of dogs are prone to mats. However, regular brushing and proper grooming can help prevent them from forming.

Mats on dogs can occur for various reasons, but you can keep your pup’s coat clean and healthy with proper care.

Final Words

Maintaining your four-legged friend’s coat is a crucial part of their overall health, and mats can be a sign that some extra TLC is needed.

You can give your pup the care they deserve by understanding what mats are and what tools you need to help remove them!

You can keep your pup looking its best with regular brushing, detangling sprays, and the right tools!