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A licking mat is ostensibly just for dogs, but it is beneficial to both hounds and humans alike. For hounds, it provides at least a solid half-hour of physical stimulation that slows digestion and distracts from anxiety. For humans, it provides at least a solid half-hour of ‘me-time’. Sometimes, when dogs demand every iota of our attention at every moment of the day, we wish they came with a Pause button. Think of a licking mat as a Pause—or should we say Paws?—button. Here’s how you can use a licking mat to your—and your dog’s—advantage.

So, What is a Licking Mat?

A licking mat is a textured silicone mat—not dissimilar to a food bowl—containing small grooves. These receptacles are a similar size, but it is the grooves that separate the bowls from the mats. Whilst a bowl is simply a food receptacle, a licking mat is specifically designed to present food as a distraction. It is often used for anxious dogs, but it is also suitable for dogs who chow down too quickly, or demand time and energy that you don’t have.

This is a Mint Lick Mat With Suction from Stylish Hound. Comes with a matching spatula.

How Do you Use Licking Mats?

Licking mats come in a variety of different designs and colours, but their common feature is that they’re bowl- or plate-sized silicon mats containing grooves. To use a licking mat, simply spread the food onto the mat using a knife or spatula. You can use dog food, peanut butter, or pureed pumpkin—so long as it’s spreadable. The objective is to slow down your dog’s eating process. It will take a while to lick every last morsel of food from every single nook and cranny.

If you have a feline friend, you can also find cat-specific designs. Please note that cat diets are carnivorous rather than omnivorous, and so you will be more limited in what you can feed your cat.

Keep kitties out of mischief! Licking mats are also cool for cats.

What Are the Benefits of a Licking Mat?

In a nutshell, a licking bowl is a distraction tool. By spreading food between grooves, it will be impossible to consume the food in one go. Dogs do have a reputation for woofing down their food quickly. By slowing down digestion, we can allow them to better absorb their nutrients and understand their satiety cues.

These mats are also useful for anxious dogs. If your dog dislikes cars, grooming or bathtime, licking mats can be an ideal way to distract them from their immediate surroundings. If your dog is anxious in general, they may benefit from the meditative motion of licking the bowl clean. It also turns snacktime into a game. Dogs will benefit from the mental stimulation of trying to lick clean every last inch of their mat.

Finally, they’re great for if your dog’s just being annoying. If your dog is constantly craving attention, a loaded licking mat can buy you some time. This can be especially important if you’re working remotely and need to attend a Zoom meeting.

Stop cheeky boys from doing things like this!

Any Final Notes?

Despite the autonomous nature of mat-licking, it should always be a supervised activity. Ensure to keep an eye on your dog throughout the licking-mat sesh, and keep the mat out of pup’s reach whilst it’s not in use. If your licking mat is suctioned, ensure to detach it from any surface one suction cup at a time (lest the suction becomes damaged). We recommend a warm, soapy hand wash over a dishwasher clean.

This is a Mint Lick Mat from the back. It has many suction cups for your convenience. Image: Stylish Hound

Finally, avoid the temptation to overindulge your pooch. We wouldn’t want your best friend to overeat or to rely on this toy for baseline stimulation. Ensure to use licking mats in moderation and in conjunction with a healthy doggy diet and lifestyle!

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