What are they?
A LickiMat (or licking mat) is made of hard plastic, silicone rubber or both. It has a textured surface and is designed for you to spread something edible on so that your dog can spend some time licking at the surface to get all that food out of the different bumps and grooves.
There are a range of different types of licking mats, from flat squares, to bowls that wobble, and even some with suction cups that you can attach to tiles or glass.
Why use them?
Well there are several benefits. One is simply that it occupies your dog. Giving them something to eat spread over a LickiMat will keep them busy for much longer than it would take them to eat the exact same thing from a plain bowl. They have to work at it!
More importantly though, the act of licking itself releases endorphins and dopamine. These are neurochemicals that create feelings of pleasure and relaxation in the body. So licking a LickiMat makes your dog feel nice!
This makes a LickiMat an ideal activity for your dog to engage in at times when you want them to feel happy and relaxed. For example if you:
– are going out and leaving them home alone
– need some calm time while you prepare dinner; or
– if your dog experiences something they find overly exciting or stressful like an unexpected visitor.
What can you put on a LickiMat?
You can put anything that is spreadable and safe for your dog to eat on a LickiMat!
Some ideas are:
– Cream cheese, cottage cheese or yoghurt if your dog can digest small amounts of dairy. Remember to get unsweetened varieties (artificial sweetener xylitol can be fatal for dogs)
– Peanut butter (again, check for artificial sweetener)
– Mashed pumpkin, carrot or banana
– Wet dog food
– Minced meat
– Canned tuna
– If your dog is on a specific dry food diet due to allergies, you can soak the kibble in warm water to create a spreadable food suitable for the LickiMat.
Get creative! Try adding some chopped fruit and veg pieces of dry dog or cat food to your spread for extra texture, or even better, freeze your LickiMat after you’ve spread it to make the licking last even longer.
Note: make sure you supervise your dog with a LickiMat initially to make sure they don’t chew it up or ingest pieces.