Who doesn’t love a lick mat. So versatile and so simple. Dolly always enjoys hers.
What is a lick mat for dogs?
A lick mat is a rubber or silicone mat that has a patterned surface designed to lock in soft food and is used to encourage the act of licking.
A lick mat is designed to help calm a nervous dog and provide some extra enrichment. It can be used in any environment, such as the home or kennels and is commonly seen in veterinary surgeries and groomers.
Licking is an innate behavior that provides comfort and relaxation as it releases endorphins in the brain which act as a natural calmer for your dog.
There are many dogs who will benefit from a lick mat include those with anxiety.
- Dogs on crate rest spend a long time couped up and a lick mat can provide them with mental stimulation as well as the satisfaction of a meal.
- Lick mats also work as a slow feeder for dogs who just like to gobble their food down which helps with digestive and weight issues.
- Works great as a distraction (you can get lick mats with suckers on that stick to the side of the bath). You could always do the ‘cling film on the head’ method too.
- Lick mats are a good ‘reset’ item when training your dog as it provides a calming interlude during sessions like nose work.
What kind of lick mat should you buy?
Look for a lick mat that is made of silicone or natural rubber as often you’ll want to freeze it before giving it to your dog and other materials will perish or crack.
Lick mats with suckers on the back are really useful as you can then position the mat on a vertical surface to keep your dog’s attention when you want to do something like cut their claws, or bathe them.
Check the pattern on the mat as some of the textures can be hard to clean, or won’t hold very wet foods. You’ll want one that’s dishwasher proof ideally, although you’ll still need to scrub out the stubborn food that sticks in the crevices.
Be sure to get a high quality mat. If it is not well made, then your dog will have an easy time destroying the mat and may accidentally ingest some of the pieces.
One great tip is to place the lick mat inside a baking tray or metal tin when feeding. The lip of the tin will help keep it up the right way as many dogs love trying to flip their mats over.
Homemade Lick Mats
You don’t need to buy an official LickIt mat, if you’ve got a silicone baking sheet already in your kitchen cupboards. And you probably don’t need instructions, but we had fun making some for you!
You can use a number of foods on the mat as long as they are soft and gloopy they’ll work well.
There are so many foods you can put on a lick mat, it is truly versatile. Anything that can be pureed or mashed can be spread onto the mat. It’s really a case of what your dog likes.
I like to use bananas, cream cheese, sardines and pumpkin puree (good for digestive health). You can even use your dog’s own food to make meal times last longer. Soak kibble in gravy to make it into a paste and then spread it on.
Baby food is also a great way of experimenting with new flavours for your dog try sweet potato, or carrots, apple and parsnips. Remember not to put too much food on the mat as it can be frustrating for your dog to try and get every single scrap.
In the summer you can use yoghurt and freeze the mat to provide a cooling treat.
Easy to do and fun for your dog. Start with a small amount of tasty food ( sloppy food is best to start) so you dog learns to lick and gets an instant reward.
- Silicone Baking Sheet
- Dog friendly peanut butter ( or soft dog food)
- Flat ( butter) knife
- Turn the silicone mat upside down so the pyramids are on the underside and you can see the holes.
- Stir your peanut butter ( or dog food).
- Spread a little of the peanut butter onto the mat and offer it to your dog.
- When they have licked it off, you may add a little more.
- When they're finished, wash the mat thoroughly ( can go in the dishwasher).
Recommended lick mats
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