A lick mat has become increasingly popular over the years with dog parents. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and fun for your pup. This post includes dog lick mat ideas, benefits of lick mats, delicious toppings (according to a dog), instructions…everything you will need to know about your dog’s new favorite activity.
What is a lick mat?
A lick mat is a plate-sized surface with a raised design- typically made from rubber or silicone and has many grooves, curves, and nubs that encourages the act of licking.
A spreadable food is placed and “locked” inside the textured mat. Also, they can often be called “Lickimats” or licking mats. These little mats are one of the best inventions ever (in my humble opinion). I use these specific lick mats with my dogs and they have lasted well over a year. I was pleasantly surprised how easy they are to clean as well.
Recommended Lick Mats your Dog will Thank You For
- This dog crate lick mat is a must if you have a dog who is crate-trained.
- This dog lick mat has 77 suction cups and is perfect to use if your dog needs a distraction during bath time.
- This textured lick mat features different raised levels for a “licking area” and a “slow food zone.”
What can I put on My dog’s Lick Mat?
Simple 1-Ingedient Dog Lick Mat Ideas (Base Ingredients)
The ingredients below can be used on their own or as a base ingredient. Experiment with different combinations to find lickimat recipes your dog will love.
- peanut butter– make sure peanut butter is all natural and does NOT include xylitol. Xylitol is a harmful ingredient to dogs.
- plain yogurt (Greek)– ensure yogurt has no added sugars or artificial flavors
- cottage cheese– because cottage cheese is fermented it contains very little lactose. This can be a good option for dogs who need a bland diet.
- plain cream cheese– dogs can enjoy a small amount of cream cheese in their diet. However, be mindful of how much you are giving your pup. Cream cheese can be high in fat and calories.
- frozen bone broth– think of it like chicken soup for your dog. If you go with this option, it can get a little messy on the mat because it is a pure liquid. I suggest you freeze it for a couple hours first before giving it to your dog.
- wet food (their usual wet dog food)
- plain pumpkin puree (no sugar added)- pumpkin is considered to be a superfood for dogs with various health benefits. It is a nutritious treat that can also be used for an upset tummy as well.
More Base Ingredient Options…
- mashed banana– bananas can be eaten by dogs in moderation. In addition, they are high in potassium and nutrients but they do contain high levels of sugar.
- applesauce (unsweet/no sugar added)- apples can be a safe treat for your dog to enjoy. Make sure to check packaging, many apple sauces are full of added sugars and flavors. Pro tip- on a hot day, spread applesauce on lickimat and place in the freezer. This will be a great cooling treat for your dog on a summer day.
- frozen goat milk (let it freeze on the mat for a couple hours)- goat milk can be easier for a dog to digest than cow’s milk. Cow milk is generally not recommended in a dog’s diet.
- chopped carrots– there’s a reason carrots are included in many popular dog foods. They are a healthy snack that are low in calories. Plus, due to their crunch factor they can be good for your dog’s teeth by removing plaque during chewing.
- finely chopped cooked chicken (no seasonings)
- crushed low-fat dog treats– there are many different types of dog treats out there. If you go with this option make sure you are using the treats in small moderations.
- crushed dog food (kibble)
- vegetable puree– mashed veggies that are easily spreadable. Make sure and research if the veggie is safe for your dog to ingest.
- sweet potatoes– sweet potatoes can be a great option as a healthy snack to add to dog lick pads. Plus, your dog will likely love their sweet flavor profile.
Dog Lick Mat Ideas- Combination Recipes for a Tasty Treat
These lickimat toppings and combinations are fan favorites amongst the pups in my household. Try them out for your furry friend.
- Ingredients: plain Greek yogurt, mashed strawberries, & honey
- Directions: Put a layer of Greek yogurt on the lick mat. This will serve as the base of the parfait. Next add some mashed strawberries on the top of the yogurt. Lastly, add a small amount of honey drizzle on top.
- Ingredients: finely chopped cooked chicken, chopped carrots, and crushed bits of dog kibble
- Directions: Add the cooked chicken on the lick mat first. Then add the layer of chopped carrots and some crushed dog food to add a “crunch” factor.
- Ingredients: natural peanut butter (no xylitol) and mashed blueberries
- Directions: Spread a layer of natural peanut butter on the lick mat. Mash up a cup of blueberries and layer on top.
- Ingredients: plain cream cheese, pumpkin puree, small amount of honey
- Directions: Mix the cream cheese with the pumpkin puree in a small bowl. Spread the mixture onto the lick mat. Drizzle a small amount of honey on top. Add it to the freezer for 30 minutes to make it last longer on the mat.
Banana Blueberry Smoothie
- Ingredients: plain Greek yogurt, banana, blueberries
- Directions: You can do this in two ways. First, blend yogurt, banana, and 1/2 cup of blueberries into a blender and pour mixture onto lick pad. Place in freezer for an hour. If you don’t want to use a blender- spread greek yogurt as the base layer on the lick mat. In a small bowl, mash the banana and blueberries. Spread the fruit puree mixture on top of the yogurt. Serve as is or place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Good Ole’ Dog Food Classic
- Ingredients: your choice of wet dog food, dog kibble OR chopped carrots
- Tip: If your dog has digestive issues due to speed eating then consider using your lick pad as a slow feeder bowl. This choice is not really a treat like the other recipes but offers a different option for feeding your dog.
- Directions: Place your dog’s wet food on the mat. For an added crunch factor, sprinkle some hard dog food on top or chopped carrots for more texture.
- Note: Be mindful of the amount of calories you are giving your dog per day. Some of these foods are highly caloric and should only be given to your dog on special occasions.
- If you are worried you might be exceeding their daily limit use a dog calorie counter such as this one. Remember to test things out in small quantities.
- Try out different combinations and see what your dog loves. Just make sure to research what foods are safe for your dog to consume before giving them anything new.
What are the Best Lick Mats?
Lick mats come in many different shapes, sizes, designs, and at various price points. They can be found at many pet stores and online. Below are some great options of different lick mats available.
- Lick Mat for Dog Crate– this lick mat is designed specifically to hang in your dog’s crate. Many dogs feel stress and anxiety in a small space-especially a puppy getting used to their new crate. The knob on the back allows the mat to hang on most wired dog crates. This mat can help with boredom, separation anxiety, etc.
- Lick Mat with Suction Cups– this lick mat includes four sections with different grooved designs. It has 77 suction cups on the back to stick to smooth surfaces such as glass or ceramic tile. I have used this lick mat to help bathe my dog, Lacy. She gets so anxious with baths so I suction this mat to wall and she is perfectly distracted! Woot Woot!!
- Textured Lick Pad– this specific mat is designed with different raised levels for a “licking area” and a “slow food zone.” The lower edges are designed for more wet style foods such as peanut butter and yogurt. The raised edges provide a place for hard food such as kibble, treats, fruits, etc. This would be a great option if your in need of a slow feeder and lick mat combo.
Dog Lick Mat Benefits
Lick mats have a plethora of great benefits for dogs. I am not kidding when I say they are my dog’s favorite thing. When they see me get their lick mats out of the pantry they can barely contain their excitement.
Benefit #1: Provides Mental Stimulation/Boredom Buster
Let’s face it…your dog can get bored during the day. If you are on the hunt for more enrichment activities, the licking mat is a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog. It gives your dog’s brain a job/task to do.
Benefit #2: Provides a Distraction
Lick mats can be used as a way to focus your dog’s attention on licking instead of something else. You can use the silicone mat in a number of different ways.
For example, you can use a lick mat if you are expecting guests and you know your dog becomes anxious around other people. Instead of their sole focus being on the guests, provide a healthy treat on their mat while your guests are arriving.
I have also heard of dog owners using lick mats during bath time to help with any problem behaviors. Instead of trying to jump out of the bath tub, your dog can focus on licking while you bathe them.
Many mats have suction cups on the back that can stick to bathroom tile on the wall. You could also use one if you take your dog out to a patio restaurant. The ideas are truly endless.
Benefit #3: Alleviate Stress
For dogs, licking can release dopamine (pleasure endorphins) in the brain which can help him/her to calm down in stressful situations. These relaxing hormones can help anxious dogs feel more at ease and relaxed and focus on the task at hand.
In my personal experience, it really can help in stressful situations. My high-strung dog, Lacy seems so much more calm when she is licking on her mat.
Benefit #4: Can Help with Destructive Behaviors
When dogs are bored they can become destructive. My dog, Maverick is the perfect example of this.
If he does not get enough mental/physical stimulation in his day he starts to find things he can chew/tear apart. He becomes a happy pup when he is given his lick mat.
Benefit #5: A Good Substitute for a Slow Feeder Bowl during Meal Time
A slow feeder bowl is a dog bowl specifically designed to keep dogs from eating their food too fast. Speed eating can cause digestive issues, nausea, and vomiting. Due to the design of a lick mat, the raised grooves/nubs force dogs to slow down while they eat.
Benefit #6: It’s Fun
Lastly, but certainly not least- a lick mat is enjoyable for your dog. It is an activity they can participate in that involves yummy food…win/win. I would bet it will become one of your dog’s favorites.
How Long will the Lick Mat Last?
This will depend on what type of food topper you put on the mat. If it is frozen it will take your dog a longer time to finish. On average, my dogs will lick their mat for about 20-30 minutes.
If you are wondering how long lick mats last before having to replace them, this also depends on your dog’s chewing habits and how often you plan to use your mats.
Personally, we have had our lick mats for a year and a half and they are holding up well. I also use them on a weekly basis (multiple times a week).
Can I Leave My Dog Unsupervised?
It is highly encouraged for you to be in the same room (or at least- at home) with your dog while they are licking. While mats are typically very durable and chew resistant, you know your dog best and how closely they need to be watched.
My dog, Maverick has a tendency to make his mat into a chew toy once he has licked all the food off the surface. If I was not watching him, there would be a good chance I would come home to the mat torn to pieces (he is a power chewer).
How to Clean a Lick Mat
The best way (recommended) to clean your dog’s lick mat is by handwashing with warm water and soap. You will need a scrubber to get any leftover food hiding in the grooves of the mat. It is best to read the care instructions that come on your product’s packaging.
Some mats can be placed in the dishwasher on the top rack. Be careful, there are some warnings the mat could “warp” in the dishwasher, but I have done this many times and mine always come out fine. Do this at your own risk. Make sure to wash your dog’s lick mat after each use.
Ready. Set. Lick!
In conclusion, lick mats really are a powerful tool you can make a part of your regular routine. With their vast amount of benefits, affordable price, and easy use they are the perfect boredom buster, anxiety reducer, mental stimulator, and best part yet- yummy treat for your pup. Try it out, your pup will love you for it.
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