Everything You Need to Know About the Slicker Brush

Today I am going to be talking about pet grooming: specifically the slicker brush. Some are cautious to use this tool on their pets due to its wire bristles, so we need to ask the question: is it worth buying? Or is it just a waste of time?

What is a Slicker Brush?

A Slicker Brush is a pet grooming tool used on dogs and cats, with the primary purpose of getting rid of any debris, loose hair and mats/ knots in the fur. It is typically rectangular in shape and has fine wire bristles, packed tightly together. Each wire bristle is angled slightly as to not scratch the skin. Other than for removing dirt and hair, this brush is ideal for keeping your animal’s coat in good condition, with the bristles distributing oil through the fur.

This brush is mainly used for thick or curly haired dogs- as they require a more rigorous grooming routine. Here are some of the dog breeds the brush will typically be used on:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Poodle
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Bernard
  • Siberian Husky
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Schnauzer

Is a Slicker Brush it Safe?

If used properly, the slicker brush is absolutely safe for use on your pet. There are a few points which need to be bared in mind before using this brush. Firstly, pressure us key. The main danger with this type of brush is that, as it has very fine and sharp bristles, is scratching the skin. Using too much pressure on this brush can cause discomfort and irritation to your pet’s skin, so be gentle.

Also, it is advisable not to use this type of brush on your pet if they have any flea bites, broken skin or skin problems such as mange. This can lead to irritation and infection for your pet.

Finally, you need to consider very carefully before purchasing this brush the size and the length of your pet’s hair. As this is typically used for longer haired dogs, it may not be wise to buy it for your Boxer or Labrador. And due to the various lengths of bristles, it is important not to buy a brush which is too big for your pet, as this will again increase the chance of scratching the skin.

Which Brush Should I Be Using for My Pet?

There are three main types of brush which you can choose between when shopping for your pet.

  • Bristle Brush- can be used on all coat types. Wider spaced bristles for long coated animals, tighter packed bristles for those with shorter coats.
  • Wire-Pin Brush- These are usually used for with curly, long to medium hair coats.
  • Slicker Brush- Ideal for getting rid of mats and tangles

Each is built specifically for a different type of hair, so it’s important to know which one you’ll need you suit your pet. Here is an easy table to follow:

Type of Hair Coat

Which Brush to Use

Short, smooth coat (e.g. Labrador, Gun Dogs, Chihuahuas) Soft/Medium bristle brush- tightly packed bristles for short hair
Short, wiry and thick coat (e.g. Jack Russell Terriers) Firm Bristle brush, tightly packed bristles

Slicker brush can be used here for knots

Medium to Long, soft and flowing coat (e.g., Golden Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters) Soft/medium bristle brush with widely spaced bristles for longer coat

Wire-pin brush can also be used

Slicker brush for any tangles

Thick, harsh outer coats with soft undercoats (e.g. Collies, Chows, Pomeranians) Firm bristle brush with widely spaced bristles

Wire-pin brush for longer coat

Slicker brush to get rid of tangles

Thin, delicate coats (e.g. Yorkshire Terriers, West Highland Terriers) Wire-pin brush for longer coat

A soft slicker brush can be used for tangles and mats

How to Use a Slicker Brush

A slicker brush makes a great grooming tool for pets, and when used correctly, can lead to glossier, healthier hair. Below is a method of how you should be using your slicker brush- along with the rest of your grooming routine:

What you’ll need:

  • Slicker Brush
  • Bristle Brush
  • Conditioning Spray (Or water in a spray bottle)
  • A metal comb
  1. Firstly, you need to prepare your pet’s skin for the use of this brush. Spray a small amount of conditioning spray or water over your pet’s coat; this will act as a protective barrier of sorts against hair damage.
  2. Making sure to be very gentle, use long, slow strokes to brush from the neck to the tail. Here you are working out any dead hair and dirt, so there’s no need to be firm. If your dog has longer hair, lift the brush a little as you work your way down the back.
  3. At this point, you’ll start to hear the odd scraping noise- this means you’ve hit a tangle. To detangle any knots, you’ll need to be gentle. Otherwise, you risk causing discomfort. To start with, try using your fingers to loosen the knot, and if you struggle with this- a metal comb will be the best tool to use.
  4. Once you have loosened the mat with a comb, you can switch back to the slicker brush. To get rid of the knot, brush over it in different directions until you can brush through it. Be careful not to pull on the hair as you do this.
  5. Once you have brushed you pet’s back, continue the same procedure for the rest of the body, legs, and neck. Do not use the slicker brush on the face.
  6. Once the body is done, you can use the soft bristle brush on the face and ears, and then brush over the whole body to get rid of those last bits of hair. At this point your pet will probably be pretty fed up, so give them a treat and set them free!

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Slicker Brush

 Advantages

  • This brush can be used on both dogs and cats
  • It is easy to use
  • It’s great at removing tangles
  • It removes dead skin and dirt

Disadvantages

  • There is a risk of scratching the skin
  • When detangling, you can pull on healthy hair and irritate the skin
  • Some dogs and cats don’t like being brushed and find it very uncomfortable

What Precautions do I need to take before buying a Slicker Brush?

As I said before, the slicker brush is totally safe to use, if used properly. But before you go out and buy the first one you see, there are a few things you need to bear in mind.

Firstly, when you are in the shop, test the brush out on your arm (gently). If the brush scratches your arm, don’t buy the brush. You don’t want to cause your pet discomfort.

As I said above, make sure that you purchase the correct size for your pet. You don’t want to be grooming your cat with a brush made for a Great Dane, because it will be uncomfortable and much more likely to scratch the skin.

It is incredibly important to make sure you clean your brush after every single use and get rid of any hair left in the bristles. The main reason for this, apart from infection, is that flies and insects sitting on your pet’s skin can get trapped between the bristles and need to be removed because let’s face it, that’s pretty disgusting.

How Do I Clean and Maintain my Brush?

Maintaining the condition of your brush is actually pretty easy, and can help your brush last a lot longer before being replaced.

What you’ll need:

  • Hot Water
  • A bucket or bowl
  • Either: Soap OR Pet safe disinfectant OR Bleach
  • Cloths
  1. Firstly, remove the bulk of hair and dirt from the brush by taking another brush, ad rubbing the two against each other. This is a much easier method than just using your fingers to dig it out.
  2. Fill your bucket/ bowl with hot water and one of the following: soap, disinfectant or bleach. In normal instances, you want to be using soap or disinfectant rather than bleach. Using bleach to wash your brush is more for pet’s who have sensitive skin, are ill or who have a skin condition. Use Bleach very sparingly, because it can cause premature wearing to your brush if used frequently.
  3. Soak your brush in the water for 10-15 minutes. Once you take it out, dry it thoroughly with a cloth to prevent any rust from forming.

Should I buy a Slicker Brush?

Ultimately, the slicker brush is one of the most popular grooming brushes out there, and it plays an essential role in the maintenance of your pet’s skin and fur coat. As long as it is used properly, it is one of the best tools to use for long and thick haired animals.