What is a licking mat?
First and foremost, what is a licking mat? A licking mat is a plastic or silicone mat that can be smeared with a variety of different treats. These can include wet food, pastes, peanut butter or plain yoghurt – anything really that is spreadable and enjoyed by your pet. They come in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes but all of them have patterns of cavities and grooves to hold the treats.
Why would you want a licking mat?
Both dogs and cats find the act of repetitive licking soothing which can calm an anxious pet, so by participating in an activity that causes them to lick, they are releasing cortisol into their body – a hormone responsible for relaxation. Licking mats are a great way to help promote calm behaviour.
If you have pets that eat too quickly, you can extend their feeding time with a licking mat making them eat more slowly, produce more saliva and aid digestion. This also aids dental health helping fight off bacteria in the mouth.
And of course the big buzzword at the moment “enrichment”. The licking mat can provide mental stimulation which promotes mental health. A mentally stimulated pet is a healthy pet.
Licking mats can also be frozen thereby extending the game longer by presenting a greater challenge or maybe provide some much-needed refreshment in the hotter months.
When should you use a licking mat?
As a distraction. Maybe you’re still working from home and need time to make that Zoom call in peace.
How about bath time, nail trimming, grooming? You can get licking mats that stick on the wall, and on windows when out on a car journey.
Perhaps on Bonfire night? Something to soothe an anxious pet and take their mind off their fears.
If your pet is confined to a crate due to illness or an operation, and they need a low-impact boredom buster.
To distract and entertain your new puppy or kitten.
As a slow feeder, and of course, as a reward. At the end of a great training session, for example.
Just because you love them!
A useful addition to your toolkit
In summary, you may already have a whole stash of puzzle toys to keep your pet entertained but we believe it’s worthwhile adding this simple yet effective soothing slow feeder to your toolkit.
Bear in mind that these mats can be a chewing hazard so should only be used when supervised.