What are lick mats for dogs?
Licking mats are exactly what you think they are: mats that you can smear food on and let your dog lick it off! These are flat mats that normally have hairs or ridges that prevent dogs' mouths from grabbing and chewing the food, causing them to lick the mat to eat. These specially designed textured mats primarily help slow down the ingestion process.
What are the benefits of a licking mat for dogs?
1/ It helps digestion
First of all, it can help improve digestion by slowing down the speed at which your dog eats. It is well known that the slower your dog eats, the easier it is for his body to digest his food efficiently and properly. Dogs work the same way we do and eating too quickly can cause bloating, stomach pain or liver attacks! Plus, licking the carpet encourages saliva production in your puppy's mouth, which helps him break down food.
2/ It contributes to your dog's oral health
The texture of the licking mat (grooves, bristles and ridges) can help clean your dog's tongue by removing bacteria and particles that have accumulated there, which can cause foul breath. And because licking stimulates saliva production, it helps keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy by protecting him from cavities. Licking doesn't eliminate the need for a good teeth cleaning, but it can help maintain your dog's overall oral health, along with regular brushing.
3/ It helps calm your dog
A licking mat can help reduce your little furball's stress level; licking is a very pleasurable experience for our pups. It helps release endorphins, the happy hormone, into their system and can help calm and soothe your dog. Therefore, you can use the licking mat if you anticipate that a situation that could prove stressful for your dog will occur. For example, if guests are visiting, if you are leaving the house, or if your dog needs a nail trim. Fill the licking mat with his favorite food and let him lick it while the potentially anxiety-provoking event or activity is happening.
4/ It's fun for your dog
This can be a form of entertainment; when a dog is bored, destructive behavior can develop in him. Entertaining your dog with a lick rug when you can't play with him can be a great way to redirect that unwanted behavior, and thus save your furniture. Not to mention, a lick rug works the puppy's brain by challenging him to figure out how to lick that fun, hard-to-clean rug!
5/ It can help control weight.
When a dog eats too fast, he may consume more calories than he needs. By slowing down his eating, the dog can feel satisfied and full much sooner. A dog lick mat can also help with portion control if a vet has advised you to get your dog to lose a few pounds. You can only put a limited amount of food on a licking mat, which can help you reduce his intake more easily, distracting him long enough that he doesn't even notice his food has decreased!
What to put on my dog's licking mat
Foods that you can easily crush or spread on the mat are usually the most effective.
- Canned fish (like tuna or salmon)
- Wet dog food
- Peanut butter (without xylitol)
- Pureed vegetables (sweet potatoes, bananas, carrots, etc.)
- Ground meat (without seasoning)
When and how to clean the carpet?
It is very important for your dog's oral and general health that you wash your lick mat after each use, otherwise harmful bacteria can grow and infect the mat. Read the package instructions when you receive your lick mat to see if you can use a dishwasher to clean your mat. If it's not dishwasher safe, dishwashing liquid and a sponge dampened in warm water should suffice, but remember to rinse the mat thoroughly so you don't make your dog sick with leftover dishwashing liquid.
Licking mats should be made of natural rubber, be non-toxic and food grade.