Fur care

Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 18, 2019
Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair

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It's not always easy to find effective commercial products to detangle your dog's coat. They may be too cheaply made, unsuitable for your dog's fur type or simply not available at your local pet store. Also, different pedigree and mongrel dogs may need special treatment to make sure their fur is taken care of properly. This is why AnimalWised has these home remedies for matted dog hair. You can make sure your pooch is looking pristine as well as avoiding any health risks which matted fur can cause.

Ignoring matted fur in your dog and not maintaining a healthy coat can lead to problems with hygiene, in turn posing significant health risks. This is due to parasitical infestations, dermatological infections and dog hair being a breeding ground for bacteria. These home remedies help keep not only your dog healthy, but also anyone else they come in contact with, canine and human alike.

You may also be interested in: How to Get Mats Out of a Yorkie's Hair
  1. The importance of a dog's coat
  2. Basic care to prevent matted dog hair
  3. How to untangle matted dog hair
  4. Homemade hair conditioner for dogs

The importance of a dog's coat

Although it may not be given much consideration, the a dog's coat plays an important role in the health of the dog and fulfills functions such as:

  • Forms the first barrier to protect the dog's skin against physical, chemical and other damage.
  • Protection against the sun's rays, which can cause skin tumors in dogs.
  • Controls the dog's body temperature, protecting them from both cold and heat.

Matting or tangling of a dog's hair prevents it from properly carrying out these functions, by exposing parts and the skin, encouraging the growth of bacteria, etc. Grooming and maintaining your dog's coat in top condition is therefore essential to the dog's health and well being. Below we explain how to prevent matted dog hair by making grooming a priority, as well as remedies to untangle your dog's hair at home, if the need arises.

Remember to take the dog to the vet if you see any areas where bald spots appear, especially if you think the dog could be suffering from canine alopecia. Also keep an eye out for unhealed wounds, eczema, dermatitis, brittle or dry fur or any other damage to the dog's skin or hair.

Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair - The importance of a dog's coat

Basic care to prevent matted dog hair

Prevention is always better than cure, so before we look into some home remedies to untangle your dog's fur, we're going to show you some basic care tips to prevent tangles in the first place. Good personal care for your dog means their fur will be less likely to form knots and become matted.

If you don't provide basic care for your dog's coat, it can lead to the growth of bacteria and parasites. This is not to mention the cosmetic issues, as well as pain and discomfort for your pooch. If your dog is particularly prone to knotted hair, then the tangles can progress to the point where you may have no other choice but to cut the hair or even shave the dog. This can provide any number of inconveniences. In order to avoid this here are some measures you can take from the very first day the dog is in your care:

  • First, do some research on the type of dog you bring into your home. You probably have some information from the source of the dog, but you can also ask your vet when you take them in for vaccinations, etc. Long haired dog breeds will need daily coat care, although even shorter-haired dogs need their fur taken care of. If you haven't got your dog yet, the type of coat and care needed may be a consideration.
  • Although your new furry companion may only be a puppy, you must accustom them early to being groomed. You can begin with short sessions, providing rewards for small amounts of brushing. You can then gradually increase the amount of brushing time until they no longer need rewards. This not only helps the pup become comfortable (and therefore less stressed) with brushing, but can also help when it is time to bathe them or take them to the vet.
  • Using a specific table or areas for brushing can be helpful. This will help the dog associate the area with grooming and provide a more controlled experience. A plastic table in an area with no carpets or fabric is ideal as this prevents stains and the accumulation of fur. It can also help to keep them at a comfortable height so you won't hurt your back when grooming.
  • It's a good idea to start brushing in places where tangles most frequently occur such as behind the ears, the chest, on the legs, tail or belly.
  • Your vet will also be able to recommend an appropriate grooming routine, and can put you in touch with a good canine hairdresser or dog groomer. Many veterinary clinics also have these services incorporated into their premises.
  • When a professional dog groomer is not available (or too expensive), you can get your own grooming kit to make sure you have what you need to take proper care of the dog's coat. Combs, brushes, scissors and shampoos are the bedrock of a dog grooming kit, but there may be other elements you can incorporate for your particular dog. Investing in a good quality dog comb will keep your dog's fur unmatted as well as ensuring their comfort.
  • Finally, grooming is not the only element in maintaining a dog's healthy coat. Providing them with an appropriate diet, ensuring they have the right nutrients (in supplements if required) and an adequate deworming and vaccination schedule are all needed to keep a dog's coat in tip-top condition.

For more suggestions on proper grooming, check out this article on how to brush your dog's hair.

Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair - Basic care to prevent matted dog hair

How to untangle matted dog hair

Sometimes, no matter how much you groom your dog's coat, we might find it gets tangled. Some long haired dogs will find themselves tangled up in knots simply from taking a leisurely walk. Their long coat sways as they move and forms tangles and knots naturally. This type of fur should be brushed after walks, at least in the areas which are most prone to getting caught up, such as back of the legs and tail.

In more extreme occasions, you may find yourself with a dog that has been either lost or abandoned. Not having had anyone to groom them can lead to seriously matted fur. This can cause to knots and tangles so strong, they resemble dreadlocks. Also, they can be very close to the skin which can be the source of other hygiene concerns. If this is the case, it is best to leave the dog in the hands of a professional groomer.

How to groom a dog with matted hair

In cases where you can tackle the situation yourself, here are some of the best home methods and remedies to detangle matted dog hair:

  • First, look over the dog's coat to see the extent of the damage. This will help you work out your approach to the mater hair, and decide what tools you will need to use as well as how long the process will take.
  • Start by tackling the largest tangles first. As they are the most ingrained, they will also take the longest to disentangle. Remember to start at the top and work your way down, not up.
  • Check the distance between the first knot and the dog's skin. If the knot is too close to the skin, pulling on it can cause the dog pain. You should have enough room to hold the base of the knot so, when you pull, you pull the dog's hair and not the skin.
  • Before trying to untangle the knot, you need to moisten it. For this, you can use a special detangler spray, but water should also suffice. However, you shouldn't wash the dog first as this won't help untangle the matted fur. Instead, you'll want to give them a proper wash and bath afterwards so that they feel new again.
  • Start by trying to undo the tangle by hand. Start at the tip and separate the fur strand by strand. This will only get the easiest parts of the knot, but it can help a bigger knot to start unraveling.
  • When your fingers are no longer enough, you need to use a fine toothed metal comb. Always holding the base of the fur, slowly pull the comb through the knot. The know may give some resistance, which you should overcome, but don't pull too hard.
  • If the density of the knot makes it impossible to untangle even with the comb, then you will need to cut it off. When cutting matted dog hair, use sharp scissors which are long enough to cut with ease. Regular hairdressing scissors can work well. Hold the base of the knot where you cut it so that your hand protects the dog's skin. Again, if this job is too hard for you, it is best to take the dog to a professional to ensure a good job and the dog's well-being.
  • Once the tangles and knots are all undone, you can give the dog a thorough brushing with a suitable comb.
  • Finish with a bath and make sure you use the right treatment for dog fur. Special shampoos and conditioners can work great and are more affordable than they used to be. We also have some homemade alternatives in the section below.
  • Use a towel to dry the dog off if you can, but protect sensitive areas and don't rub too hard. The same goes if you use a hair dryer, in which case be careful not to spook the dog.
  • Comb thoroughly once more and don't forget to reward your doggo them with treats and love for being a good dog through the process.
Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair - How to untangle matted dog hair

Homemade hair conditioner for dogs

There are lots of natural home remedies which can work wonders for your dog's hair whether it is to detangle it or simply condition for strength and shine. Making a homemade conditioner for these purposes is a great way to save money and improve your dog's coat.

Aloe vera, rosemary and even egg are all great canine hair care treatments. However, the best natural product for dealing with matted dog hair is coconut oil. Coconut oil can be used to make the following homemade conditioner or detangler for dog hair.

Detangling coconut oil conditioner for dogs

Extra virgin coconut oil is an excellent natural remedy to add shine, softness and hydration to a dog's hair. Additionally, it is believed to have beneficial barrier effects on the dog's the skin. As an anti-inflammatory, it can also help fight against itchiness and dryness by keeping the skin hydrated[1][2]. Another added benefit is that coconut oil is a great natural detangler for matted dog hair.

To make your own dog hair detangling conditioner simply dilute a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil in 2 tablespoons of warm water. Let the solution cool, then apply it over the dog's tangled hair using a damp cloth and massaging the conditioner into the knots.

Leave on for a few minutes, before trying to comb out the knots as described above. Finally, make sure you properly wash off any residue oil on the dog's fur with an appropriate dog shampoo. Leaving the oil on the fur can lead to further tangles later on.

For more natural conditioners for your dog, consult our article on homemade hair conditioners for dogs.

Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair - Homemade hair conditioner for dogs

If you want to read similar articles to Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair, we recommend you visit our Fur care category.

  1. Lin, T., Zhong, L., and Santiago, J. L. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(1).
  2. Wallace, T. C. (2018). Health Effects of Coconut Oil - A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 38(2), 97-107.

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What did you think of this article?
Linda Wood
Can you use olive oil to detangle a dog's coat?
Administrador AnimalWised
It might be helpful to help grease the hair and release it, but if the tangle is too tough to free with a detangle comb, adding olive oil may just create an unnecessary mess.
Betty Albertson
My dog bites I be had bad experience with groomers her skin is pink as well. They've been mean to her. What should I do about tangles and her biting
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Betty,

If your dog's skin is pink, be sure to check with a vet that there is no underlying skin condition. In terms of biting, if the groomers are professional, they should have the skills and ability to control the dogs they groom. If the dog is still biting then they have behavioral problems which need to be addressed by qualified canine behaviorist.
LV is in the air
A vet behaviorist would be a good way to go! It also takes some time to desensitize being handled.

In the meantime, you could probably ask your vet about anti-anxiety meds for grooming days (as a management too). You could also seek out a R+ or Fear Free certified groomer in your area. Best of luck!
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Home Remedies for Matted Dog Hair