5 Tried & Tested Home Remedies For Matted Dog Hair
After a playful romp in the rainy weather, your dog might have ended up with a new "hairdo" in the form of dreadlocks. It's not a cause for alarm, but it's a good idea to address the issue before it becomes too tangled, and your furry friend needs a full shave.
While there are commercial products designed to tackle this problem, there are also some home remedies worth trying out first. In this article, our team of experts will discuss the top DIY solutions for untangling those stubborn knots in your dog's fur.
What Causes Matted Dog Hair
Matted dog hair is a result of high friction caused by hair particles being rubbed against one another. This is very common for long-haired breeds like Poodle and Bichon Frise, who have coarse locks that sway with movement.
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However, mats can happen to dogs with shorter and sleeker fur too. If they’re not brushed regularly and with the proper technique and tools, the dead or loose hairs will eventually get wrapped around live fur, causing tangles and knots. And if not treated, those mats will turn into dreadlocks, which are almost impossible to brush out and can be a source of hygiene concerns.
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Home Remedies For Matted Dog Fur
With all this being said, dog hair matting can happen even if you’re very meticulous and persistent with brushing. When that does occur, you shouldn’t reach for the scissors just yet, as there are a few home remedies you can try to de-mat your pooch’s fur first.
1# Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a popular natural remedy for restoring moisture and reducing frizz on dry and damaged human hair, thanks to being packed with natural fatty acids.. For the same reasons, it can work wonders on dog fur as well. Not only does coconut oil make hair strands soft, shiny and hydrated, but it can also protect the dog’s skin from itchiness and dryness (1).
As a dog hair treatment, coconut oil can be diluted with warm water for easier application. Simply mix oil and water in a 1:2 ratio and spray the concoction onto the hair knots. In the case of more extreme matting, use coconut oil in its fully concentrated form. Once applied, start massaging the oil into the knots and watch them get untangled in front of your eyes.
#2 Olive Oil
For the same reasons as its coconut counterpart, olive oil also works great for matted dog fur. When applied thoroughly, it penetrates the knotted areas of the coat and makes the hair shafts glide past one another, causing the mat to simply fall off.
Even a few drops of olive oil are usually enough to untangle stubborn knots in your dog’s fur, but don’t be afraid to use it diligently when necessary. Olive oil is not only safe, but beneficial for a dog’s skin and hair both inside and outside, so there’s nothing to worry about if your pooch ingests some.
When it comes to application, a syringe without a needle is a great tool for the job. The narrow tip allows you to be very precise and administer the oil right where the matting starts. From there, you just need to rub the oil in and let it do its magic.
#3 Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a great topical remedy for hot spots in dogs, but it can also work for de-matting the coat. Just like oil, aloe vera lubricates the hair strands, making it easier to comb out tangles.
There’s a variety of aloe vera dog products you can choose from, including sprays, gels and even shampoos. In case your Fido’s fur is badly matted, the most concentrated version will work best, which is gel. Apply a few drops to the tangled areas, then work it in using your fingers.
A word of caution if using aloe vera for de-matting your pooch’s fur. While topically completely safe for dogs, aloe vera contains certain compounds that can be toxic to them when ingested (2). Both saponins and latex are found in aloe vera and these chemicals can cause vomiting and diarrhoea if they find their way inside the dog’s gut. Therefore, after detangling your pups mane with aloe vera, follow up with a bath to ensure all of the product is washed out thoroughly and you won’t run the risk of them ingesting the harmful toxins if they happen to lick the area afterwards.
#4 Colloidal Oatmeal Or Baking Soda
Oatmeal and baking soda are two ingredients commonly used in dog shampoos and conditioners. Both help with eliminating odour, soothing the skin and softening the hair, which are arguably some of the most important qualities of a good dog hair product.
If you’re looking for a home remedy for matted fur, either of the two ingredients in powder form will do a great job. The idea is to mix the powder with a bit of water to create a paste. Then, apply the paste to the tangled hair and start working through it with a slicker brush.
Cornstarch is another ingredient you probably have in your pantry that you can use for de-matting your dog’s fur. Just like other aforementioned powders, cornstarch lubricates hair and reduces friction, thus helping in detangling hair fibres.
But in the case of cornstarch, there’s a clear difference in application. Instead of mixing it with water, sprinkle some of the powder on the dry, matted coat. Rub it in with your fingers before brushing it out.
How To Groom Your Dog’s Matted Fur
Now you know what home remedies are safe for your dog and can help with untangling hair, but how do you use them? The de-matting process is far from applying and hoping for the best. Depending on the severity, it can be quite a physically demanding task.
Regardless of the remedy you decide to go with, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that could make your job a bit easier. First, always work in tiny sections to avoid hurting your canine companion by forcing the comb through the knots. Most of these de-matting solutions need time to start working, so take your time to apply them slowly and thoroughly.
Try untangling the knot with your fingers first. It’s a long shot, but doing it manually is gentler than using a comb. In case neither method works, there’s not much you can do but cut the knot with scissors. They don’t have to be hairdressing scissors, but they must be sharp so that you don’t hurt your pooch. Hold the knot at the base to avoid the scissors touching your dog’s skin.
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Keep in mind that, while all of these remedies moisten the tangled hair, they’re all applied on dry fur. Washing your dog beforehand won’t help - in fact, it might only make your task more difficult.
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If your Fido’s badly matted fur seems like biting off more than you can chew, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the job to a professional. Dog groomers have knowledge, experience and tools for giving your pooch a tangle-free look.
My Final Thoughts
Regular and adequate grooming is the key to keeping knots at bay. However, matted fur happens, but that’s something you can deal with at home.
Many ingredients you may have in your pantry can help you untangle your dog’s fur and ensure a clean appearance.
1) PetMD Editorial. April 4, 2016. “Coconut Oil For Dogs: Understanding the Benefits and Risks” PetMD. Retrieved September 24, 2023.https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/coconut-oil-dogs-understanding-benefits-and-risks
2) PetMD Editorial. March 31, 2022. “Are Succulents Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?” PetMD. Retrieved September 24, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/are-succulents-poisonous-cats-and-dogs