Dogs are simple creatures. While they're capable of complex emotions, canines aren't too difficult to distract. All it takes is some food and a well-designed toy to pull focus.
Many dog owners take full advantage of their dog's short attention span and penchant for distraction. With a little bit of careful planning, you can turn otherwise nightmare scenarios into peaceful events where your pooch stays calm.
One way to keep your dog occupied and enriched is to use a lick mat!
Lick mats are a relatively new fad that has taken the pet world by storm! These little accessories have a simple design, but they're surprisingly effective at solving a myriad of behavioral problems.
Are you thinking about getting your dog a lick mat? Check out some of our favorites below.
5 of the Best Lick Mats for Dogs
1. Aquapaw Slow Treater Silicone Lick Mat
Available in two designs, the lick mat from Aquapaw is excellent for canines that hate getting baths. The mat is made of silicone and features a series of rounded nubs.
Slather on some peanut butter and use the grippy back to slap it onto a smooth wall or floor.
The mat stays put while your dog goes to town! When they're done, the winged tabs make removal a breeze. Plus, the silicone material is easy to clean and sterilize.
Give it a good wash, and it's ready for use all over again.
2. Frisco Silicone Treat Lick Mat, 2 Count
From Frisco is this lick mat two-pack. You're getting two unique pads. The first is a gray square. It measures about 7.8 inches tall and 7.8 inches wide. The second mat is bright blue. Using roughly the same dimensions as the square, this mat is hexagonal.
Both mats have a distinct raised pattern. The various shapes create little hexagon shapes. The pad does a fine job of holding onto thick and creamy treats.
Made of BPA-free silicone, the mats are relatively durable and easy to clean. While not as grippy on the back as other options, the mats have pin holes for easy hanging.
3. Lick Lick Pad Dog Distraction Lick Mat, Large
Check out this cute little mat. It takes on the shape of a dog. Available in two colors, the mat is sporting two sizes of raised nodes. Together, the nubs create a stimulating pattern that any dog will love.
Of course, the design helps to hold onto peanut butter and other mushy treats, too. The accessory is made of 100 percent food-grade silicone. It's BPA-free and dishwasher-safe on the top rack.
In addition to being durable and easy to clean, the silicone sticks to most smooth surfaces. It holds well on glass, tile, and more.
4. Lick Mats for Dogs & Cats with Suction Cups for Pet Shower
Here's another two-pack that's worth buying. This set features two 7-inch mats. They're identical in size and design. However, you are getting two different colors to differentiate between pets easily.
The cool thing about these mats is that they're shaped like a paw. Two distinct textures separate the paw pad from the smaller toe pads. One is an "X" pattern, while the other is raised bumps.
The mats are made of food-grade silicone. They're easy to clean and have a grippy rear texture for easy vertical mounting.
5. Mighty Paw Dog Lick Pad for Fun, Anxiety, & Boredom Relief
This mat from the Mighty Paw Store offers a premium experience for your pup. It's rocking four different textured panels! Each quadrant is specifically designed to tackle certain emotions.
One is meant to distract, another is for anxiety relief, and the last one is for pure fun! There's also an "easy" section for dogs that never used a lick mat before.
Like most mats, this one is made of BPA-free silicone. It's quite durable and is dishwasher-safe. On the back, there are a series of suction cups. They provide exceptional stability no matter how you set it up.
What Exactly Are Lick Mats?
Also known as lick pads, lick mats are pretty straightforward. They're mats that are designed for your dog to lick!
These simple accessories rely on the texture to soothe your dog. Licking is a naturally calming act. It's not uncommon to see anxiety-riddled canines constantly licking at their paws. Some even resort to licking floors or walls!
A lick pad is a much safer alternative than those surfaces. Most mats are flat. They typically feature raised ridges and deep grooves. The distinct patterns offer a unique sensory experience. Plus, it makes holding food much more manageable!
The best way to use a lick mat is to smear it with food or fill the grooves with treats. The go-to for most canine parents is peanut butter! However, you can also use all-natural foods like mashed fruit.
Whatever you use, the combination of delicious (peanut butter) treats and stimulating texture is a recipe for boredom-busting fun! Dogs love these toys, and they can provide upwards of half an hour of distraction.
No matter your reasoning for distracting your dog, lick mats are the perfect way to do it.
Why You Should Use a Lick Mat
These accessories might seem simple, but they can provide some pretty significant benefits to your dog. They're so much more than toys! They can be a game-changer that puts an end to unwanted behavior and provides some peace to an emotional dog!
Here are some noteworthy benefits that make lick pads a must-have.
Do you have a dog that's in constant need of mental stimulation? Believe it or not, mental exercise is just as important as physical activity.
Your dog has to participate in challenging pursuits to feel fulfilled. Otherwise, they may turn to destructive behavior and bad habits.
A lick mat is a perfect way to keep your dog mentally fit. Instead of handing them treats out of your hand, incorporate them into the mat and provide a challenge to overcome!
Those few minutes of struggle can make all the difference.
Natural Emotional Soother
As mentioned earlier, repeated licking is a relaxing activity for dogs. It's said to trigger the release of more cortisol, which is a relaxation hormone dogs need to feel calm.
Dogs can get anxious for a wide variety of reasons. Some get fearful during a thunderstorm, while others get stressed around other dogs.
Whatever the case may be, it's important to address those emotions. Leaving your dog to its own devices will only lead to trouble.
They cannot only adopt bad habits, but they can start causing harm to themselves and their environment. Repeated body licking often leads to hot spots and infections.
Providing a lick mat feeds into that constant need for calm. But, it provides a safe and controlled space to do it.
Many owners like to use lick mats during times of high stress. For example, you can plop the mat onto the wall as you're bathing your dog or clipping its nails.
The mat provides a soothing distraction for you to get your grooming tasks done.
Slower Eating Habits
Fast eating is pretty common among dogs. But did you know that it can cause a litany of health problems? On the innocent side of things, gobbling up food can lead to regurgitation and stomach pain.
On the more serious side of the spectrum, it can cause bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can kill dogs in minutes if not addressed!
How do dogs get bloat? Often, it's because they eat too fast and swallow too much air.
In this case, a lick mat acts as a slow feeder. The various grooves and ridges trap food and force your dog to slow down.
Now, the effectiveness of a lick mat for slow feeding varies from one dog to the next. Generally, these mats are better suited for small dogs. Bigger dogs can usually get through the challenge without much issue.
Enhanced Dental Health
Even though your dog isn't chewing on the mat, it can still impact their dental health!
You see, repeated licking promotes saliva production. Saliva plays a big part in fighting off oral bacteria. With more saliva to work with, your dog is better equipped to combat the effects of periodontal disease.
It can keep harmful bacteria at bay, resulting in better breath and much healthier teeth.
Saliva is thought to support the digestive process, too. It's a win-win all around!
Features to Look For
Lick mats are becoming more widespread as the demand for these products rises. As a result, we're starting to see more and more unique designs.
Unfortunately, not all pads are made to the same standard of quality. To ensure that your dog is getting the best experience possible, keep the following features in mind.
During your search, you'll find mats in many different sizes. Try choosing one that's catered to your dog.
Smaller breeds aren't going to need a massive pad. Meanwhile, larger canines might not have as much fun with smaller mats.
Think about how long you want the mat to last when filled with a treat. The longer it keeps your dog distracted, the better. Stick to appropriately sized mats that offer as much bang for your buck as possible.
Texture and Pattern
The overall design of the mat is where brands get creative. You'll see tons of variety here.
Some are simple grid-like patterns. Others take on more whimsical designs.
There's no right or wrong choice in the matter. However, we always recommend choosing a mat that offers more distinct sensory experiences.
Try to find an option that incorporates several designs into one. That way, your dog gets tons of stimulation during a licking session.
Material and Durability
When it comes to material, you want something rugged and easy to clean.
Most manufacturers utilize silicone or some form of rubber. Silicone is pretty durable, but it's still soft enough to keep the teeth and tongue safe. Plus, it's naturally non-stick.
While your pup will have a fun time trying to get treats off, you shouldn't have too much of an issue cleaning up afterward.
No matter how rugged the mat is, it would be best if you never let your dog use it unsupervised. More rambunctious dogs can easily tear your mat apart, creating a severe choking hazard.
Finally, check to see if the mat has a grippy back. This feature isn't a requirement. But, it can make a huge difference during some tasks.
For example, you can't bathe your dog if the distraction mat is on the floor in front of them! It has to be on the wall! The same goes for most other grooming tasks.
Related: Top 5 Best Dog Bath Tubs
Having small suction cups on the back makes it easy to slap onto slick surfaces without worrying about sliding or falling off.
Of all the dog fads to emerge in recent years, lick mats are sure to stick around! These simple accessories have so much to offer you and your dog. Your furry friend gets some much-needed mental stimulation and calming distraction.
Meanwhile, you get to accomplish complex tasks without worrying about your dog getting in the way!
The sky's the limit in terms of usability. Feel free to get creative and find new ways that you can use your investment! Chances are, your dog will be eager to try them out!