Dematting poses significant challenges yet offers substantial rewards within our profession.  Whether it's a fluffy pup or a majestic feline, mastering the technique of dematting is crucial for maintaining proper coat health and overall well-being. At times, we may encounter situations where we wish to state the limitations of what we can do without undermining client expectations. However, professional decorum dictates otherwise. 

In this blog post, we'll delve into expert tips on proper dematting, optimal pricing strategies for dematting services, effective customer communication practices, the potential skin issues caused by matting and appropriate measures to take. 

Understanding Mats

Before we dive into dematting techniques and pricing, it’s important to understand what mats are and how they are formed. Mats occur when loose hair becomes entangled and creates tight knots in the pet's coat. Factors such as lack of grooming, moisture, friction, broken hair and underlying health issues can contribute to mat formation.

Mat formation primarily arises from inadequate grooming practices and hair damage. When hair tips become damaged, they tend to fray. New hair growth results in entanglement with these frayed ends, forming knots and tangles. Failure to address these tangles with brushing worsens the problem, leading to mat formation. Any moisture that gets trapped in or under the matting contributes to their tightness and increases the risk of skin issues, as air circulation becomes hindered. 

Potential Skin Issues 

Mats not only affect the appearance of a pet's coat but can also lead to various skin problems if left untreated. These include skin irritation, fungal infections, parasitic infestations, hematomas and pressure sores. It's essential to handle these issues promptly and with care to prevent further discomfort or complications for the pet. 

Skin irritation is unavoidable if matting is severe. The irritation may manifest in various forms, ranging from minor scaly skin and bumps to more severe conditions such as hot spots. While a little irritation may at first seem inconsequential, it has the potential to escalate into a major issue if left unaddressed. There are countless products that can be used to help with these irritations depending on their severity. One product I highly recommend for minor irritations to hot spots is the Peace and Kindness spray from Chris Christensen. This non-toxic topical spray contains .999 pure silver particles at 30ppm. It is tasteless, odorless, and non stinging, making it suitable for direct application to open cuts or wounds without causing painful reactions. Additionally, there is a Peace and Kindness shampoo that is very soothing to irritated skin. 

Dematting Techniques

Assessing the Situation

Start by assessing the severity of the mats. Is it a minor tangle or dense matting requiring intensive work? This helps to determine the approach and set expectations with the pet parent. The check-in process marks the start of communication. If the dog requires shaving due to matting, now is the time to discuss and confirm the additional charges with the pet owner. Shaving a matted pet demands extra time and resources. Therefore, when assessing charges for matting, it’s crucial to take into consideration time invested, as well as the wear and tear on our body and tools. 

Proper Tools

Ensure you have the right tools for the job,  including slicker brushes, dematting combs, detangling sprays, and mat splitters. If the pet requires shaving or even spot shaving, your clippers and blades need to be prepared and ready for use. The safest blade is the #10. If you are struggling with getting different longer blades through the coat, stop and move to the #10 blade. This helps prevent unnecessarily injuries to the animal. 

Dematting sprays and or finishing sprays can be of assistance in these situations. Regardless of the product you are using, it’s advisable to lightly mist the hair before brushing. Excessive moisture makes the hair overly elastic, leading to fragility and breakage as it stretches. A light mist provides enough “slip” for mat removal without decreasing the integrity of the hair shaft to the point of breakage. 

Gentle Approach 

Begin dematting from the outer edges of the mat and work your way inward using short, gentle strokes. Use your fingers to hold the base of the mat to prevent pulling on the skin. With a slicker brush, use the “pat and pull” method. Lightly pat the outer edge of the mat and pull toward the end. This technique is a gentle approach to getting matting out. Once you’ve used the slicker brush to break up the mats, running a comb through the hair ensures it’s now free of tangles. 

Patience and Breaks 

Dematting can be time-consuming and physically demanding. Take breaks as needed to prevent fatigue and ensure a positive experience for both you and the pet. Always be attentive to signs of stress in the pet you are working on. If the animal is panting heavily or constantly trying to fight the process, dematting may not be right for them. Instead, shaving out the mats may be the better option. 

Pricing Considerations

Hourly Rate vs. Flat Fee 

Some groomers prefer charging an hourly rate for dematting services, while others opt for a flat fee based on the severity of the matting. We opt to charge by the minute to ensure fairness to all customers. For instance, if a dog requires shaving due to matting, we apply a rate of $1 per minute for the shave down before the bath, in addition to the full service groom price. These charges generally fall within the range of $40 to $90. In cases of minimal matting, such as dematting ears, the extra fee may be as low as $10 to $15. Remember, it’s important to communicate the estimated cost of additional services to the customer during the check-in process. 

Factors to Consider

When determining pricing, it’s essential to consider various factors such as the size of the pet, the severity of matting, coat type and temperament of the pet. These elements significantly influence the amount of extra time and effort required for mat removal, as well as the ease of the grooming process. For example, a wire-coated dog typically presents fewer challenges during brushing compared to a curly-coated breed. However, regardless of these variables, the utmost priority remains the comfort and well-being of the pet throughout the grooming experience. 


Be transparent with pet parents about pricing and communicate any additional charges upfront to avoid misunderstandings. Prior to beginning the grooming session, conduct a thorough consultation with the pet parent. Use this opportunity to assess the condition of the pet's coat and discuss any matting or tangles that may be present. Explain the potential consequences of leaving mats untreated, such as skin irritation or discomfort for the pet. 

Take the time to visually show the pet parent any mats or tangles you've identified in their pet's coat. Use your grooming tools, such as a comb, to demonstrate the severity of the matting. This helps pet parents understand the extent of the issue and why dematting is necessary.

Manage pet parents' expectations by discussing realistic outcomes for the dematting session. Depending on the severity of the matting, it may not be possible to completely remove all mats without causing discomfort to the pet. Set realistic goals and explain the steps you'll take to minimize any irritation during the grooming process.

After the grooming appointment, provide pet parents with educational materials, such as brochures or handouts, that explain the importance of regular grooming and coat maintenance to prevent future matting. Offer guidance and tips for at-home grooming practices, grooming frequency, brushing techniques and recommend grooming tools to assist the pet parents in maintaining their pet’s coat between professional grooming appointments. 

Encourage pet parents to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have about matting or grooming in general. Implement an open door policy and be receptive to feedback, ensuring that pet parents feel confident and informed about the care their pet receives. By effectively communicating with pet parents about matting issues and the importance of regular grooming, you can foster trust and cooperation, ultimately leading to happier, healthier pets.

The Physical Toll

Dematting can be physically demanding and take a toll on our bodies over time. Here are some tips to minimize strain:

  • Take regular breaks to rest and stretch your muscles.
  • Practice proper lifting techniques to avoid back injuries.
  • Invest in ergonomic grooming tools and equipment to reduce strain on your wrists and hands.
  • Consider incorporating regular exercise and self-care practices into your routine to maintain overall well-being.

Mastering Dematting for a Positive Grooming Experience 

Dematting stands as a pivotal aspect of grooming, accompanied by its set of challenges and considerations. Through the mastery of dematting techniques, the implementation of fair pricing strategies, a focus on pet skin care and the practice of self-care, we can ensure a positive experience for both pets and pet parents while minimizing the physical toll on ourselves. With dedication and practice, becoming proficient at dematting is an achievable goal. Happy grooming! 


Elli Bultemeier NCMG, CPAe, PTI 2592