Lick Mat For Dogs: Everything You Need To Know!
Licking Mat For Dogs
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about the functions of a licking mat for dogs. We’ll discover what a dog lick mat is, the benefits, how to use them, and what foods work best on them…
Lick Mat For Dogs: What Are They?
Lick mats are exactly what they say on the tin; they’re mats you can coat food on and then let your dog lick! They’re flat mats that are normally made up with bristles or ridges which make it tricky for a dog’s mouth to pick up food and chew from, and thus encourages licking. These textured, specially designed mats primarily help slow down the eating process.
What Are The Benefits Of A Lick Mat For Dogs?
There are host of positives a lick mat can bring to your dog:
They can better digestion by slowing down eating; the slower your dog eats, the easier it is for your dog’s body to digest their food efficiently and properly. The licking of the mat encourages the production of saliva in your pup’s mouth which helps break down food. By forcing a slowing down in consumption, this reduces the likelihood of bloat (which can be dangerous for a dog to experience) and better their digestion overall.
It can support their oral health; the texture of your dog’s lick mat (grooves, bristles, and ridges) can help clean your dog’s tongue by removing bacteria and particles built up there which in turn can help reduce smelly breath. And, as licking stimulates saliva production; saliva helps keep a dog’s teeth and gum’s healthy by protecting against cavities. A lick mat doesn’t remove the need for proper teeth cleaning, but can help keep their overall oral health in good shape alongside regular doggy tooth brushing.
It can calm a dog’s stress levels; licking is a very pleasant experience for our pups. It helps release “happy hormones” into their system (endorphins) and can help calm and soothe your pet. Therefore, you can use the lick mat if a situation that they may find stressful is going to occur. For example, guests visiting the house, you leaving the house, or if they need to have their nails trimmed. Fill the lick mat with their favorite food and let them lick away whilst the potentially anxiety-inducing event or activity occurs.
It can provide a form of entertainment; when a dog is bored, this can often be attributed to destructive behavior. Keeping your dog entertained with a lick mat when you can’t play with them can be a great way of redirecting this unwanted behavior.
It can provide essential mental stimulation; a daily walk is an essential part of being a good dog owner. But, as well as physical exercise, mental exercise is needed too. A lick mat engages a pup’s brain by challenging them to work out how to lick this challenging, fun mat clean!
It can help control their weight; When a dog eats too quickly, it can lead them to eating more calories than they actually need. By slowing a dog’s eating down, they can feel satisfied and full much sooner. A lick mat for dogs can also help their owners with portion control if you’ve been advised by a vet to shift a few pounds off your doggy. You can only put so much food on a licking mat so this can help you reduce their intake as well as slow them down, distracting them long enough that they most likely won’t even notice the smaller food amount!
It can be used as a training tool; Most dogs love their lick mats! So, next time they’ve been well behaved you can reward them with a lick mat experience. Or, when you train them to do something new (ethically and kindly!), a lick mat can be a great way to instill the new behavior, as your dog will learn and associate the lick mat treat with behaving in that desired way. This is called positive reinforcement.
What To Put On A Puppy Lick Mat
Things you can squash or spread on a dog lick mat usually work best. Things like:
- Canned fish (like tuna or salmon)
- Wet dog food
- Peanut butter (that doesn’t contain xylitol)
- Pureed vegetables (like sweet potatoes, banana, and carrot)
- Ground meat (no seasoning)
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Most dogs love berries but when it comes to lick mats for dogs, freezing them can work better! Try squashing in some strawberries or blueberries to your licking mat and pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving to your pup. It will also help the licking experience last longer!
Be sure not to feed your dog any of the following foods on their lick mat, as these can be toxic to dogs:
Lick Mat For Dogs: The Importance Of Hygiene
It’s really important for your dog’s oral and overall health that you wash your lick mat after every use otherwise bacteria can grow and infect the mat. Read the packaging instructions when you first get your lick mat to learn whether you can use a dishwasher to clean your mat. If it’s not suitable to go in the dishwasher, a dishwashing detergent and sponge in warm, soapy water should clean it satisfactorily.
Lick mats should be made with natural rubber, be non-toxic and of food grade. A reputable pet brand (like us!) will normally proudly display this clearly. Look for “100% food-grade silicone” that’s “BPA free”, with ideally, a non-slip base for extra safety and ease-of-use.