Dogs & Swimming: Preventing Matting & Tangles

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Most dogs love to swim, especially on a hot summer day to cool off. Unfortunately, swimming dogs are more prone to matted hair or tangled fur and have an increased likelihood of contracting skin issues like hot spots and dermatitis.

When a dog stays wet for an extended period of time, the moisture causes their hair to curl and then dry while it’s still wrapped around itself. This moisture, along with warm temperatures, is also a breeding ground for bacteria harmful to your dog’s skin.

The good news is that proper care after swimming can help prevent your pet from matting and carrying harmful bacteria. While some dog breeds are more at risk than others, all dogs should receive grooming after getting wet. This blog provides helpful tricks for dog grooming care at home to prevent matting and tangling in wet dogs and keep them clean.

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Which Breeds are at Greater Risk for Matting?

All dogs love swimming but double-coated breeds such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors are more prone to issues after activity in water. Their coat retains moisture once wet, and it can take a very long time to dry. The moisture can make matting worse and can also create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Curly-coated breeds like Labradoodles and Bichon Frises mat and tangle very easily. Brushing frequently is imperative for dogs with curly-coated hair in order to maintain their cute and fluffy appearance. Add water play to the mix, and it’s crucial to brush their coat!

When curly-coated dogs rub on furniture, the floor or other surfaces after getting wet, static electricity builds. Between the rubbing and the static, their hair can tangle almost instantly.

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Rinse or Bathe Your Dog after Exposure to Water

This pet grooming tip may seem strange considering they’re already wet, but chemicals from chlorine as well as sand, debris and bacteria from lakes or rivers can cause skin irritation and leave unpleasant smells attached to their fur.

Rinsing your dog after a swim is recommended, but it’s much better to bathe your pet if you’re able. If you bathe your dog at home, be sure to rinse all of the product out of the coat. Products left in the coat can cause skin to become irritated and itchy.

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Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home After Swimming

Invest in a high-quality leave-in conditioner for your dog’s coat. A detangling leave-in conditioning spray will make brushing easier, especially for dogs with long hair that tangles easily. 

You can spray the leave-in conditioner on their damp coat before they fully dry, or wait and lightly spray it over their dry fur and brush it through. Quadruped Pet Care: All In One Leave-In Conditioner is a great product for this.


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Always read the directions on any product you decide to use on your dog. Many shampoos and conditioners used by professional groomers come in a concentrated form, so they need to be diluted before using. To dilute these products we suggest using a mixing bottle or spray bottle. Simply add the recommended amount of water and then product, and mix thoroughly.

Dog groomers at Smoochie Pooch never use premixed products for bathing; each time a pet is bathed, product is mixed specifically for their needs. To fully mix and achieve a sudsy texture, our professional pet stylists froth the mix much like a barista froths milk for a latte.

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Brushing Dogs to Prevent Matting After Swimming

While it’s recommended to maintain a regular grooming schedule with professional groomers, pet care shouldn’t stop there. For dogs that love their time in the water, we highly recommend brushing at home to help maintain your pet’s skin and coat in between grooming appointments. 

Periodically brushing is the best way to prevent tangles and matting from occurring, so it’s a good practice to thoroughly brush your pet each time they play in water. There are also some drying aids that you can spray on your pet that help them dry more quickly and prevent “wet dog” smell. 

Brush through clean, damp hair with a brush or metal comb all the way to the skin. Then after it dries fully, brush again with the brush or comb, ensuring it gets all the way down to the skin. Grooming your dog at home may not be an option, but brushing always is!

If your pet isn’t brushed well, mats will continue to trap more fur and move their way closer to your dog’s skin, increasing the severity of the mat. You’ll likely notice mats first in areas around the collar or harness area, under their chin, their armpits, their feet and on the back of their hind legs.

If your pet does get matted, it could take multiple professional grooming sessions to remove the matting without causing pain or harm to your pet.   

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Using the Right Brush for Your Dog

It’s important to utilize the right brush for your dog’s coat. For example: slicker brushes, undercoat rakes and metal combs are recommended for thick, double-coated breeds like Huskies, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards. Westies and Scotties have coarse, short coats and may be better off with a metal comb and Andis undercoat rake. 

You can learn more about our recommendations for brushes based on different dog breeds and coat types in this blog.

Have questions about brushing your pet? Ask the professional groomers at Smoochie Pooch – they’ll be happy to give you tips about brushes and the proper way to brush your dog’s specific coat. 

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Regular Dog Grooming

Most pet owners aren’t dog grooming experts. That’s where we come in! 

With regular grooming appointments at Smoochie Pooch, your pet’s coat will be pampered and maintained on a regular basis with proper bathing, brushing and trimming specific to the dog’s breed. This regular grooming regimen significantly helps pet owners maintain their pet’s coat in between appointments, and makes it much easier to manage wet dogs after a swim. 

Whether you visit one of our multiple grooming salon locations or make an appointment with our mobile grooming pet spa in Northwest Indiana, you can count on our team to keep your dog’s coat healthy and clean. To find out more about our dog grooming services, contact us today!

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