Lick Mat for Dogs Guide: Recipes, Benefits & How to Clean [2023 Update] | Pupford
September 28th, 2023
Filed under Lifestyle + Stories
We’ve been hearing a lot of questions lately about lick mats for dogs -- their benefits, what to put on them, how to clean them, things like that.
Today we’re going to give you the ultimate lick mat guide for dogs, answering all of those questions and more.
If you haven’t heard of a lick mat yet (also called a licking mat or licking pad), it’s exactly what it sounds like! It’s a textured mat design to engage your pup by challenging them to lick every last bit of goodies off their mat.
Here’s everything we’re going to cover:
- Benefits of Lick Mats
- Lick Mat Recipes & Ideas
- How to Clean a Lick Mat
So let’s get those pup tongues ready to dive into all things lick mats.
BENEFITS OF LICKING PADS & LICK MATS FOR DOGS
Licking mats are a great mental exercise tool that pup parents can utilize in a number of ways.
Here’s why dogs, and their humans, love lick mats:
- They reduce stress and anxiety -- if your dog gets overwhelmed during bathing, grooming, or other activities, the lick mat provides a welcomed (and delicious) distraction.
- They keep your dog busy -- boredom is often the cause of , so keeping your dog occupied with the lick mat can help redirect their energy.
- They are engaging -- is just as important as physical exercise. Your dog’s brain will be working hard to figure out how to lick that mat clean.
Plus, what’s cuter than a happy pup?
Lick Mats (and any brain work for that matter) are a powerful way to help reduce problem behaviors like unwanted chewing, barking, and more!
If you’ve noticed any other benefits of Lick Mats, we’d love to hear them in the comments section!
LICK MAT RECIPES DOGS LOVE
One of the most common questions we’ve gotten is what to put on a lick mat.
Before we share our favorite things to put on a lick mat, we want to make a quick note about giving your dogs extra treats. Always be sure to keep daily caloric intake in mind -- if you are putting a lot of calories onto the lick mat, be sure to adjust other meals accordingly.
When in doubt, opt for lower-calorie treat options so your dog can still enjoy their full meals!
Now onto the yummy stuff! Here are some of our favorite things to put on a lick mat:
LICK PAD RECIPE BASE
You’ll want to spread something dense over the lick mat to help other ingredients stick and provide more of a challenge.
Here are some healthy ideas for dog lick pads.
Peanut butter: Be sure to go with a natural variety without xylitol. Its sticky texture is a great way to bind other goodies to your lick mat too! Just be mindful of the added ingredients and caloric density.
Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt is also great for mixing in other ingredients and freezing. Some dogs can be sensitive to dairy though, so start by giving a small amount and watching for digestive issues.
Canned pumpkin: This is a great low-calorie option, and . Be sure to limit pumpkin consumption though, as too much can also cause an upset tummy. The same applies to most squash varieties.
Cottage cheese: Avoid varieties with added fruit mix-ins.
Adding a sweet ingredient to the lick mat is an enjoyable surprise.
Fruit: There are many . While some fruit like apples or won’t make too much of a mess, it’s best to freeze other fruits like strawberries or watermelon ahead of time so they don’t get too messy.
Oatmeal: Pre-cooked, with no sugar!
Carrots: They’re one of th e best foods your dog can eat, and they usually enjoy the refreshing crunch.
Honey: This will take a lot of work for your dog to get off the mat! Just be sure to not give them too much because of the high sugar content, and look for a variety with minimal processing.
Balance out all that sweet with something savory and nutrient-dense.
Vegetables: There are a ton of . Pick one, chop into chunks, and watch your pup enjoy!
Mashed potatoes: Have leftovers from dinner last night? Stick ‘em on the mat! Keep in mind that sweet potatoes have more added health benefits than white potatoes, and to not give dogs mashed potatoes that are prepared with sugar or butter.
Ground meat: Chicken, , and beef (with no seasonings!) are best.
Dog treats: Stick to a low-calorie variety, like .
Eggs: Make sure they’re fully cooked and use sparingly.
Quinoa: Another great use of family leftovers, but again be mindful of what other ingredients it was prepared with.
For the ultimate lick mat recipe, select a choice from each category!
The variety of flavors and textures will engage your dog even more. Just be sure to only use a small amount of each ingredient to keep the calorie count appropriate for your dog.
Have any lick mat recipe combos that your dog goes nuts for? Tell us in the comments!
Worried your pup will wipe their licking mat clean too quickly? Pop the mat (with your desired toppings) into the freezer for a half-hour before giving it to your dog.
It will make the activity last longer, challenge them further, and add some extra refreshment for a hot day.
HOW TO CLEAN LICK MATS
With all those recipes to try, you’re going to want to use the lick mat often. That’s probably why we’ve gotten so many questions about the best way to clean your lick mat quickly and effectively.
The easiest way to clean a lick mat is to soak your lick mat in warm water with dish soap until residue loosens, then gently scrub to make sure it’s clean.
While you’re at it, do the same with your dog’s food and water bowls to make sure they’re clean and sanitized too!
If you’d rather not hand wash your lick mat, don’t worry. They are usually just fine in the dishwasher on a low setting.
Does your dog love using a licking pad? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience.
OTHER FAQS ABOUT LICKING MATS FOR PUPS
We've heard plenty of questions about lick pads and mats, so let's go over some of the most common ones! Any we missed? Ask in the comments!
DO LICK MATS HELP DOGS WITH ANXIETY?
While the idea that food or treats can cure dog anxiety is a myth, lick mats can be soothing for dogs and help reduce anxious tendencies. This is especially true for grooming, baths, and other similar activities.
The act of licking can be calming for many dogs. It can also help reduce problem behaviors by keeping them occupied with something fun (and tasty) to do.
I absolutely LOVE using a lick pad when I give my dogs a bath! My pup Scout used to not enjoy baths, but with a lick mat she doesn't seem to mind.
I put some peanut butter on it and suction it to my shower wall. They lick and lick the entire time they're getting a bath. Magic!
ARE LICK MATS GOOD FOR DOGS?
Without a doubt, lick mats are good for dogs.
Licking mats and pads are good for dogs for many reasons, here are a few ⤵️
- They can help reduce stress and anxiety -- if your dog gets overwhelmed during bathing, grooming, or other activities, the lick mat provides a welcomed (and delicious) distraction.
- They keep your dog busy to reduce boredom -- boredom is often the cause of destructive behaviors, so keeping your dog occupied with the lick mat can help redirect their energy.
- They are engaging and enriching -- mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Your dog’s brain will be working hard to figure out how to lick that mat clean.
- They are an effective way to feed your dog -- if you're feeding , putting on a lick pad is a great way to deliver your dog's meal to slow down their eating.
- They can be a cool treat on a hot day -- just freeze your lick mat with some tasty food on it and you'll basically have a dog popsicle, yum! (PS- Check out some )
Lick mats are a great option for keeping your dog engaged, work their mind, and just give a tasty treat!
DO DOGS NEED LICK MATS?
Dogs don't need lick mats, but dogs don't need a lot of things we give them... BUT, dogs do need mental enrichment and lick pads give mental enrichment!
I've found lick mats to be very helpful for helping my dogs relax and chill out when they're overly excited.
So while dogs don't necessarily need lick mats, they are a powerful tool that most dogs and puppies absolutely love.
HOW LONG DO LICK MATS LAST?
This question is two-fold; one is how long the actual mat itself will last with use, and two is how long it will last/keep your dog occupied. Let's answer both!
Lick mats generally last quite a while. Of course, lick mats are not a chew toy. So, if you let your pup chew on it then it won't last very long at all!
I've personally had multiple lick mats that get frequent use last for more than a couple of years. Like most things in life, it all comes down to how much you take care of it.
The second question is more about how long it will keep your pup occupied, and that just depends.
How long a lick mat will last will depend on a few factors.
- What you put on the mat -- Some things like peanut butter may last longer on the mat than greek yogurt, for example.
- If it's frozen or not -- Freezing the mat will help it keep your dog occupied for much longer.
- Your dog -- Some dogs are licking machines with giant tongues, while others take it slow.
Generally speaking though, with the right recipe and if it's frozen you can expect a lick mat to last your dog anywhere from 10-30 minutes or more. Again, it really just depends on your dog's licking habits!
DO YOU FREEZE LICK MATS?
As mentioned above, freezing lick mats is the best way to use them!
When you freeze the pad it will help keep your dog happily licking for much longer than if it's not frozen.
So, pick what you want your dog to snack on, spread it on the mat, and then pop it in the freezer. It's best to freeze it overnight, but even a couple of hours will be helpful!
I try to always have a prepared lick mat in my freezer. That way I can pop it out whenever I see fit and help my pup chill out and have a tasty treat!
LICK MATS FOR DOGS RECAP
Hopefully you found this guide helpful! Check out this 3-minute video for a video recap of how to prepare your dog's lick mat, how to give it to them, and how to clean their lick mat!
Lick Mats are a powerful way to give your dog some mental exercise, provide a tasty treat, and keep them occupied.
Now you know all the benefits, how to clean it, and of course, what to put on your dog's lick mat!
You may just be missing one step...
Getting a lick mat!
Happy licking! 😋