A slicker brush is a pet grooming tool which is designed to help remove mats while also pulling out dead hair and gently stimulating the skin, removing layers of dead skin cells and promoting healthy circulation. Many people like to use this type of brush at the end of a grooming session because it adds a distinct shine to the animal's coat, and some animals enjoy the gentle scratching sensation.
The tines of a slicker brush are typically made from very thin metal wire, and they are mounted on a soft foam or rubber mat, causing the brush to resemble a wire hairbrush. Many of these brushes are square or rectangular; it is also possible to find circular and oval brushes. The soft mat of the brush ensures that the individual tines have some give, so that they will not hurt the animal as the brush is used.
To use a slicker brush, one simply runs the brush over the coat of the animal, working in the same direction as the grain of the hair. If you are using the brush to remove mats, use it slowly and start at the base of the mat to slowly detangle it, pulling out the dead and matted hair. If a mat is especially large or stubborn, plan to attack it in several stages, as prolonged brushing can irritate the skin and pull out healthy hair, making the animal uncomfortable.
Avoid using slicker brushes around the face and on the ears. If your animal is shedding, pull hair out of the slicker brush as you use it to keep it effective, and consider getting a shedding slicker brush, which has tines at two heights to collect as much hair as possible. You can finish with a rub with a soft cloth if you like, although this is certainly not required.
When you buy a slicker brush, make sure to find a size which will work for your animal. You may also want to test the tines against the softer skin of your forearm to see how they feel at varying levels of pressure. Start with small slicker brush sessions to allow your animal to get used to the sensation; while many cats and dogs enjoy it, it can feel a bit strange at first.