As any long-haired human knows, dealing with tangled locks can be downright uncomfortable. Dogs with long, full coats are also prone to tangles, although knots do not have to go hand in hand with long coats. A proper grooming routine, including a good detangler, will keep your dog’s coat smooth, sleek and free from painful mats.
Combs and Rakes
The right comb is the first line of defense in the war on tangles. Long-haired dogs are prone to mats because each individual hair rubs and wraps around the hairs next to it, creating a large knot that will form a thick mat if left unchecked. Brush your dog with a slicker brush once a day to loosen knots and prevent tangles from forming. Start at the base of the dog’s skull and work your way down the back and neck, paying special attention to the areas where tangles are common, such as behind the ears and under the chin. Brush the rest of the dog gently, including the legs and the long hair under the tail. Hold the dog’s tail away from the body and brush the hairs straight down toward the floor to remove tangles that otherwise may be overlooked.
Use the Right Shampoo
Moisturizing shampoo is a handy tool, and should be used during every bath to keep your dog’s hair soft and tangle-free. This special type of shampoo has built-in conditioners that helps balance the pH level in the dog’s coat to prevent dry, brittle hair. Bathing may seem like a healthy activity for your dog, but it can be detrimental if done too often. A dog’s skin is very sensitive, and too many baths will strip the coat of natural oils, resulting in an itchy, uncomfortable pooch. Some dogs tolerate monthly baths with no issue, while some dogs get dry skin if bathed more than two or three times a year, so adjust your bathing schedule according to your dog’s comfort level.
If bathing hasn’t cut back on your dog’s tangles, a few spritzes of spray-on conditioner might be the solution. This type of conditioner is sprayed on the coat after bathing and is not rinsed away, forming a protective coating over each hair to minimize damage and knots. Allow the dog’s coat to dry completely, and spray a fine mist of conditioner over the dog. Brush the conditioner into the hair with a soft-bristled brush to distribute it evenly throughout the coat. Spray on just enough to dampen the coat slightly; too much conditioner will leave the dog looking oily and greasy.
Homemade dog detangler is a safe and customizable alternative to commercial products. Add one cup of hot water to a spray bottle, and pour in one tablespoon of coconut oil. Drizzle in one teaspoon of aloe vera gel and 1/4 teaspoon of glycerin and screw the spray portion onto the top of the bottle. Shake vigorously to combine the ingredients, and store in a cool, dark place for up to one week. Add in a few drops of your favorite, pet-safe essential oil to keep your dog coat’s smelling fresh and free of stubborn tangles.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.