Entertaining your pet is an important part of keeping them happy and healthy. Lick mats are a great way to give your pet some mental stimulation. Without entertainment, your pet can become bored, gain too much weight, and even suffer from mental health issues like depression. 

Fun activities help your pet beat boredom which can improve their behavior as well. Bored animals will find ways to entertain themselves. This can look like clawing the curtains, barking at passersby, chewing on furniture, and knocking your decor around. With entertainment, your pet is not looking for their own, curbing these unwanted behaviors.

All pets need some form of entertainment, whether it’s playtime with their humans, walks or physical activity, and interactive toys, like puzzles or lick mats.

What Exactly Is a Lick Mat? 

A lick mat is a textured, often silicone, mat that you can spread various foods on. This creates an easy-to-set-up activity that will keep your pet busy working on getting to the treats inside the texture. 

Benefits of Lick Mats

  • They’re generally easy to set up and clean.
  • Pets alleviate stress through licking. Many pets use licking to calm themselves down.
  • Lick mats provide mental stimulation. 
  • They also encourage slower eating, so they’re great for pets who “inhale” their food, reducing the likelihood of stomach upset and choking.
  • They can be used as a distraction, or as a reward for activities like nail clipping or grooming. 
  • If you freeze the mat, it can be used as a hot weather treat.

How Do I Use a Lick Mat? 

1: Pick your mat. 

Lick mats come in all shapes, sizes, and textures. The type of mat you pick depends on your pet and the type of food you plan to put on it. For smaller pets, pick a smaller-sized mat. Deeper mats are great for thicker food items like peanut butter. If you plan to use your mat to help distract your pet during grooming activities like nail trims or baths, suction cups on the bottom are a must. Overall, you want a mat that has some flexibility and can fit in your freezer.

2: Pick your food. 

Is your lick mat going to be for a treat or a meal? What type of food and how much of it you put on the mat, depends on your answer to that first question.

If it is a treat: Use smaller portions. We suggest adding foods that are safe for your pet, but low calorie, like pumpkin puree, peas, or unseasoned turkey and chicken. 

If it is a meal: Measure out your pet’s typical amount of food for one meal. We recommend soaking any kibble in a meat broth or water to make it softer. 

3: Freeze (if you want).

If it is a hot day, sticking the mat in the freezer is a great way to help your furry friend cool down. Freezing will also make the activity last longer. 

4: Give it to your pet. 

If you are looking to get some grooming done, setting up the lick mat in your bathtub or shower a little higher than your pet’s head is the best way to get them clean and brushed. The reach will be enough for you to clean their neck, and it gives them a distraction. 

When giving multiple pets a lick mat treat, separating them in different rooms will help keep quick eaters from trying to steal another pet’s activities. 

While lick mats may take some time for your pet to finish, they should be taken away once your pet is done so they do not chew on the mat itself. Broken bits of silicone can cause impactions, or be a choking hazard if swallowed. This is also the reason that you should not leave your pet alone with a lick mat all day while you are at work.

Veterinary Care That Is More Than a Good Time

Keeping your pet healthy can often feel overwhelming. That is why we offer easy-to-manage veterinary care here at East Valley Animal Hospital. Our checkup appointments offer built-in time for questions and conversations about your pet’s health, and we also offer in-house services like physical therapy. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our veterinarians.



Images used under creative commons licence – commercial use (3/5/24). Photo by Shubhankar Sharma on Unsplash.