For many of our furry friends, feeding time is the most anticipated part of their day. With the scuffling of bowls and cracking open of tins coaxing them out of whatever mischief they’re in, for a lot of our pets, dinner time could not come faster.  

Lick mats are a relatively new concept and introducing one into your pet’s routine can offer many physical and psychological benefits. What is a lick mat you ask? Lick mats are flat mats designed with dips, ridges and bridges that encourage slow feeding through the action of licking. When used correctly the lick mat can be the purr-fect anxiety reliever, slow feeder, tool of enrichment and much more!  

While these mats do slow down the feeding process for your furry friend, there are countless other benefits for both cats and dogs. There are even different types of lick mats out there so you can trial one that is best suited to you and your pet.  

Oftentimes, cats can be sensitive to the feeling of their whiskers scraping the side of their food bowls - the lick mat is a great solution! 

Why should I use a lick mat 

For training purposes: If your pup is particularly excitable in public, it can be a great to encourage them to relax and be still. It can be a great tool to take to outings to keep your pup occupied and out of trouble  

Soothing anxiety and stress: This is a great tool for particularly anxious pets as the action of licking has proven to release endorphins having a calming effect on cats and dogs. It can also be used to promote calm behaviour around potential triggers, by keeping them distracted around certain people, noises, and even other dogs. Lick mats can also be beneficial to pet owners who are often out and about as they provide cats and dogs with a little bit of entertainment and enrichment to soothe the separation anxiety.

Improving oral health: Repeated licking stimulates your pet’s tongue and leads to increased saliva production which aids in cleaning the tongue, teeth, and gums. Increased saliva production also improves digestion as it contains enzymes such as amylase that help break down food. Not to mention the scraping of the tongue helps to promote breath freshness. 

Encouraging slow feeding: The problem with fast eaters is when they gobble their food they can ingest large amounts of air, which can cause the stomach to swell and bloat, this can have serious long-term consequences to your dog’s health increasing their risk of gastric dilation, volvulus and stomach flipping.  

Entertainment/enrichment (the perfect distraction): Its fun! Most importantly this makes dinner time way more fun for you and your furry friend. They can be the purr-fect boredom busters and especially entertaining for cats and dogs who require a little extra enrichment in their daily lives. 

How do I use lick mats? 

Lick mats are super easy to use! They’re a great way to improve your pet’s eating experience. 

You can use the back of a spoon or spatula to: 

  1. spread your dog’s favourite wet food on a lick mat. 

  1. spread yogurt on a lick mat. 

  1. spread peanut butter on a lick mat (make sure it doesn’t have xylitol in it as this is toxic for dogs). 

  1. press minced meat into a lick mat.  

  1. press canned fish into a lick mat (sardines, tuna or salmon). 

  1. spread raw or cooked vegetables onto a lick mat (just make sure it’s safe for your pet to eat). 

You can also use your pet’s favourite dry food and put it on a wet lick mat if you’re short on time or out of spreadable ingredients.  

Lick mats can also be frozen or microwaved and if your dog happens to pick it up and run off with it, you can try placing it in a tray or tin that isn’t as easy to run away with. 

Where can I buy lick mats? 

Lick mats are super easy to find. You can purchase them from pet stores, Bunnings, on Amazon Australia and through different online retailers. 

Lick mats can also be made using a silicone baking sheet or a plastic or silicone ice cube tray.  

Bon A-pet-treat!