Tips & Tricks

How to Choose the Right Lick Mat for Your Dog: A Comprehensive Guide

dog licking the mat

Are you looking for a fun and engaging way to feed your dog? Lick mats are all the rage these days, and for good reason! These textured mats allow you to smear tasty treats, wet food, or other lickable goodies across the surface for your pup to lap up with their tongue.

Not only does this make mealtime more exciting, but it can also help slow down fast eaters and provide some much-needed mental stimulation.

With so many lick mat options on the market, how do you choose the right one for your furry friend? Never fear; this guide will walk you through all the key factors to consider when selecting the perfect lick mat.


Let’s dive in!

Pick the Right Size for Your Pup

The first consideration is getting a lick mat that’s the appropriate size for your dog. You’ll want to make sure it’s not too big or too small for their needs.

For Small Dogs

If you have a tiny pup like a Chihuahua or Yorkie, look for smaller lick mats around 6-8 inches wide. These compact sizes will make it much easier for little dogs to access and move their tongues around without getting worn out.

chihuahua dog blanket cold winter

For Medium & Large Dogs

Our bigger furry friends like Labradors or German Shepherds will do better with larger lick mats in the 8-12 inch range. This gives their bigger tongues enough real estate to really get in there and lick up all those yummy treats.


What’s Their Speed

Another factor to keep in mind is your dog’s eating speed. Is your pup a member of the hoover club, inhaling meals at lightning speed? Or do they tend to lick delicately, savoring every bite? Choosing the right texture can help manage their eating pace.

Slow Eaters

If your dog is a speedy gulper, opt for lick mats with deep grooves and heavy texturing. All those bumps and ridges will force them to work a little harder, licking more slowly and extending the meal for better digestion.

Fast Eaters

For enthusiastic eaters, start with a lick mat that has a flatter surface or shorter nubby textures. This will still provide more of a challenge than a bowl but won’t be quite as arduous as they adjust to the new feeding routine.

dog lick mat


Material Matters

When selecting a lick mat for your furry friend, safety should be your top priority. After all, your pup will be licking and potentially ingesting small amounts of the material.

Here’s a breakdown of the two most common lick mat materials and their safety considerations:

front view beagle dog with sticking out tongue park

Food-Grade Silicone

By far the most common and safest material for lick mats is silicone. It’s durable, dishwasher-safe, and easy to clean. Plus, high-quality silicone is completely non-toxic and won’t leach any chemicals.

Naturale Rubber

Another safe option is natural rubber lick mats. Similar to silicone, natural rubber lick mats are durable and easy to clean. They are also free from harsh chemicals or toxins that could be harmful to your dog. However, a small percentage of dogs might have latex allergies. If you have any concerns about your dog’s potential allergies, opting for a silicone lick mat would be the safer route.

No matter which material you choose, be sure it is labeled dishwasher-safe for effortless cleaning after each use.

woman sitting home sofa with her dog

Texture Makes a Difference

One of the most fun aspects of lick mats is the variety of textures available. From completely smooth to wildly bumpy, there’s something to suit every dog’s preference and need.

Smooth Textures

If you’ll be using the lick mat for softer foods like yogurt, pureed fruits or veggies, or liquid medications, a smooth texture allows your pup to easily lap up every drop.

Bumpy Textures

Bumpier, more heavily textured lick mats provide added challenge and are ideal for thicker, stickier treats like wet dog food or peanut butter. The grooves help slow down gulping and make your dog work a little harder.

Combination Textures

Can’t decide between smooth and bumpy? No problem! Many lick mats offer a mixed texture with both smooth and raised areas to accommodate a variety of lickable items.

Bonus Features for More Fun

To take lick mat mania to the next level, look for some added bonus features that can increase engagement and fun.

Freeze, Please!

Some lick mats are designed to be freezer-safe, allowing you to freeze broths, purees, or other liquid-based treats right into the mat’s grooves. This makes for a long-lasting, extra refreshing warm weather challenge.

short coated tan dog

Suction Cups

We’ve all had that experience – you set out a nice lick mat for your pup, only to watch in exasperation as they shove, nudge, and slide it across the floor while enthusiastically licking. One minute, it’s in the kitchen; the next, it’s being paraded through the living room!

If your dog loves to play travel mat with their lick mat, look for ones that have suction cups on the bottom to keep them in place. These handy little cups can firmly grip onto flat surfaces like floors, walls, and even bathtubs or showers. No more chasing it around the house mid-meal!

Suction cups provide a nice anchoring solution for persistent lick mat pushers. Your dog gets to happily lick away without the mat scooting out from under their tongue. And you get the peace of mind knowing that super sticky peanut butter smear won’t end up ground into the carpet fibers.

PRO TIPS: For an extra level of sticking power, some pet parents like to lightly mist the surface with water before pressing the suctioned lick mat in place. Just be cautious on textured floors or surfaces where suctioning may not be as secure.

smiling female with dog near fence and plants

Interactive Designs

To really get your dog’s mental gears turning, choose a lick mat with built-in mazes, trails, or other interactive designs. These turn mealtime into an engaging puzzle that will exercise their brain as they lick.

Ease of Cleaning

No one wants to spend ages scrubbing stuck-on gunk out of every nook and cranny after using a lick mat. When possible, go for lick mats with simple designs free of lots of hard-to-reach crevices where food remnants can stubbornly remain.

Size6-8 inches8-12 inches
TextureSmooBumpy/Deep GroovesBumpy/Deep GroovesDeep Grooves & Varied TexturesFlatter Surface or Short NubsInteractive features
MaterialSilicone/Rubber (Dishwasher-Safe)Silicone/Rubber (Dishwasher-Safe)
BenefitsPromotes slower eating, manageable sizeProvides ample space for larger portionsEncourages extended licking time, improves digestionReduces gulping, promotes slower eatingProvides mental stimulation, combats boredom/anxiety

Final Words

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all lick mat for every dog. Our furry friends are unique, each with their own quirks, tastes, and feeding styles. That’s what makes choosing a lick mat so fun!

Don’t be afraid to try out a few different options until you find the perfect combination of size, texture, and features that really works for your pup. It may take some trial and error, but but it’s worth it to find what works best.


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.