A lick mat is one type of dog gear that can serve multiple purposes. It’s typically made of a single flat piece of silicone or rubber laced with a pattern of grooves and ridges and is designed to be smeared with a soft food item. If you’re thinking of purchasing one but aren’t sure if it’s worth it, here are seven benefits of lick mats for dogs for your consideration.
The 7 Benefits of Lick Mats for Dogs
Use a lick mat to help keep your dog busy and out of trouble. If you need your dog out of the way long enough to accomplish a household task, load up a lick mat with something tasty, place it in a safe location, and let your dog get to work. You could even freeze the loaded mat to lengthen the time it’ll take your dog to clear it. If your dog is a chewer, it might not be safe to leave them unsupervised with a lick mat when you leave the house.
2. Anxiety Relief
Using a lick mat can help calm an anxious dog or distract them from a stressful situation. Working hard to clean out a lick mat gives an anxious dog something to focus on, which may help lower their emotional stress response. Dogs find a constant licking motion soothing, which is why many anxious dogs suffer from “lick sores” as they turn their tongues on themselves.
Giving them a lick mat can offer a safe way to self-soothe. With consistency, lick mats can help desensitize your dog to a stress trigger by building a positive association with the delicious food and calming licking motion.
3. Redirect Energy
If your dog gets overly excited rather than anxious in certain situations, a lick mat can help redirect its energy in a less destructive direction. For example, if your dog greets visitors by jumping and barking, try offering a loaded lick mat before you answer the door.
Ideally, your dog will pour energy into cleaning up all the yummy food rather than annoying your guests. It also serves as built-in positive reinforcement for your dog as they learn the correct way to behave around new people.
4. Socialization Aide
Use a lick mat to help socialize your new puppy. During the crucial socialization period around 12-16 weeks of age, you’ll want to expose your puppy to as many people and situations as possible. This socialization helps them learn the right way to react as they grow. It’s especially important for large and giant dogs, as well as naturally suspicious and vigilant guarding breeds. Bring along a lick mat and offer it to your puppy as they meet new people or hang out at a dog-friendly patio. The lick mat can help them stay calm and form positive associations with their new experiences.
5. Training Tool
Lick mats can be an excellent tool if you want to train your dog to sit calmly with you in public when surrounded by distractions. Maybe you work in a dog-friendly office and want your pup to behave well enough to join you, or you’d like to bring your dog to a restaurant or brewery that allows well-behaved dogs. Wherever you need your dog to learn to settle, a lick mat can help. Give your dog its own “spot,” such as a blanket, and then offer the lick mat. Licking the mat will help keep them calm, still, and quiet.
6. Slower Eating
If your dog usually sucks down their meals at lightning speed, using a lick mat to feed them can force them to slow down. Eating slower can help your dog feel full faster. Dogs trying to lose weight may benefit from eating off a lick mat.
It can also reduce the amount of air your dog swallows while eating. Swallowing too much air can make your dog’s stomach swollen and uncomfortable. Large dogs can even develop a life-threatening condition called bloat. Lick mats can serve as a slow feeding device for dogs that eat soft food.
7. Cleaner Mouth
Licking the grooves and ridges of a lick mat can help clean off your dog’s tongue. The cleaner tongue may help improve your dog’s breath. It may also help decrease the bacteria and food particles in your dog’s mouth. A lick mat is no substitute for regular dental care like brushing, but it can still benefit your dog’s oral health. Just make sure your dog doesn’t decide to clean their teeth by chewing up the mat!
What Are Good Food Options to Spread on the Lick Mat?
Canned dog food is the obvious choice for your lick mat, especially if you’re using it as a slow feeder for a dog that already eats a wet diet. You can also use canned food as a treat filler at any time. Outside of canned dog diets, any soft and safe food item your dog enjoys can be smeared onto the lick mat.
Some possible options include the following:
You’ll find several options available if we’ve convinced you to purchase a lick mat. For convenience, look for a lick mat that’s dishwasher-safe. We mentioned this earlier in the article, but until you know whether your dog will chew up the lick mat, make sure to supervise them as they use it.
Featured Image Credit: winfinity, Shutterstock