If you have a pet with long hair, brushing them out can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. However, don’t put it off—good grooming is essential for keeping your furry friend healthy. Hair mats on dogs and cats can cause skin damage and infections or even hide parasites like fleas and ticks.

When a cat or dog sheds tangled hair, it doesn’t fall away like it’s supposed to. Gradually, the tangles trap more and more shed hair and a mat of snarled hair builds up, forming a mat. Here’s how to prevent hair mats on your dog or cat.

Hair Mats on Dogs

Because they don’t self-groom, almost any dog can be susceptible to matting. However, those with long or medium-length hair and those that enjoy swimming are more likely to get mats. On dogs, hair mats occur most frequently in places of high friction—inside the armpits or underneath the collar. 

Hair Mats on Cats

Cats are usually great at grooming themselves—if you have a cat, you’ve probably cleaned up a hairball or two. Long-haired cats need frequent baths and daily brushing, as they are far more likely to get matted hair.

Older cats, outdoor cats, or cats that were lost or roaming are also more likely to have matting. But keep in mind that cats who are ill often lose the urge to groom their fur, so hair mats could be a sign to take your cat to the vet. 

Hair Mats Are Painful—Don’t Make Them Worse

Matted hair can be very painful for your pet—if a hair mat gets caught on something or ripped out, it can cause intense bruising and bald spots. Unfortunately, attempting to brush hair mats out can have the same effect. 

Hair mats usually need to be shaved off or cut away, but that’s not easy, either. Pets don’t like to hold still, and some of them end up at the vet with deep cuts after an attempt to remove matted hair. If you cannot see the skin underneath the mat, or if the mat does not pull apart easily, seek help from a veterinarian or a professional groomer. 

Three Tips to Prevent Hair Mats 

1. Brush Your Pet Regularly

Making sure to brush your pet every day is one of the best ways to keep your pet mat-free. For long-haired pets, start brushing the ends of the hair and work your way carefully toward the skin. Double-check for tangles in high-friction areas.

2. Use the Proper Tools

Using the wrong brush or comb might only make matters worse. If it catches on their hair or doesn’t reach all the way to their skin, mats can still build up. Finding the right brush can take some trial and error, so ask your veterinarian for their recommendations. 

3. Go to a Trusted Groomer

If you have a long-haired pet, taking them to the groomer every few months will help keep their coat tangle-free. Not only does your pet get some specialized attention, they also get a bath and a nail trim, too.

Veterinary Help for Hair Mats on Dogs and Cats

Leaving hair mats as they are can lead to pain, infections, and other nasty side effects. Removing them is sometimes a difficult job, and it should be done by a professional. In extreme cases (like rescued strays) the cat or dog may need to be sedated to properly remove the matted fur. 

East Valley Animal Hospital boasts the best veterinarian staff in the area. Our dedicated veterinarians and technical staff handle every problem with care and love, from intense matting to routine checkups. If you need advice on how to prevent hair mats on your dog or cat, contact us today to make an appointment.




Image used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/10/23). Photo by benjamin lehman on Unsplash.