Mats develop when dog hair gets tangled and knotted. Even if you groom daily, you can find mats in hard-to-reach areas like behind your dog's ears or at the base of her legs. Small mats can typically be tackled at home with dematting tools.
Conditioning and Detangling Spray
To loosen up a mat, use a conditioning or detangling spray. These sprays contain oils that penetrate into the mat and loosen the clump of fur. Conditioning and detangling sprays will also smooth down the tiny scales on your pup's fur that have become tangled together. Always mist a mat before trying to work it out. Reapply as needed until you've combed out the mat.
Mat combs help break large mats into workable pieces. These resemble combs that have long blades or tines instead of thin teeth. After you've applied your detangling spay, use the mat comb to pick apart the mat into several smaller pieces. The comb's long tines should slide through the matted fur.
This tool will help you work through the mat. The mat splitter has one blade and a curved handle. Holding the mat splitter by the curved handle, slice the blade into the mat. The thin blade should break apart the knotted fur. Working apart mats with this tool takes time, so don't try to rush the dematting process.
Once you've worked with the dematting tools to break the mat into very small pieces, a slicker brush works to comb out the remainder of the tangles. This is a standard grooming tool, so you may already have one. A slicker brush has many rows of short wiry tines that work well to comb out long hair. It comes in different sizes and shapes so you can choose a small slicker brush for a small breed and a larger one for a big dog.