A dog's hair may become matted due to a number of reasons, but it must be attended to promptly to prevent a slew of skin complications that can cause discomfort and potential health problems for the dog. When a dog's hair has become severely matted, only a grooming professional or possibly a veterinarian can alleviate its pain by shaving the dog's fur. Rotting fur and skin is often revealed under matted hair.
Pain and Discomfort
When a dog's hair becomes matted, the fur binds and twists itself together. This clumping results in constant pulling and, if left untreated, can cause long-term pain to your dog. Compare the pulling to another person pulling your hair very firmly for a long period of time. Afterward, your scalp hurts. This is similar to what a dog with matted hair feels, but it gets no relief until the hair is removed. Matting causes pain when the dog lies down, sits, repositions itself or even walks and runs.
If matted fur is not removed, it can cause bacterial or fungal skin infections. The matting keeps wet fur from either the bath or from inclement weather conditions from drying out as quickly as hair that is not matted. These wet clumps of hair directly on the dog's skin often result in infection, similar to a baby having diaper rash because of continued exposure to wet diapers. Some fur matting skin infections can be fatal if left untreated.
Hot spots are areas of inflammation and infection on a dog's skin that are a result of the dog biting, scratching or licking an area of matted fur in an attempt to dematt the fur. A superficial hot spot wound can become deep very quickly from the dog's biting and scratching it, and cause the canine severe pain. It is important to treat hot spots right away to prevent them from getting worse. To treat the hot spot, shave the area to allow for air circulation and increased healing speed, as well as treating it with medication as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Parasite, Flea or Tick Infestation
Matted fur is an ideal place for fleas, ticks, parasites and maggots to hide and reproduce. Combine the infestation with a skin infection, and your dog is in some serious pain. Fleas and ticks bite or burrow into the dog's skin, causing it to itch severely, which may result in hot spots and infection. Bathing your dog in flea treatments may not be enough to rid the dog of the biting bugs because of the matting, and you may need to shave the dog to treat the wounds as well.