Tips & Tricks

Lick Mats for Dogs: The Ultimate FAQ Guide | Everything You Need to Know

dogs licking the mats

Lick mats have become a huge hit with my readers! I’ve been getting tons of questions about them, so I decided to put together a complete guide to answer everything you need to know.


This way, more dog owners can enjoy the benefits of lick mats with their canine friends!

1. What Exactly is a Lick Mat?

Well, a licking pad is basically a grooved mat that encourages your dog to lick. Most lick mats are made of TPR rubber or soft silicone and have unique patterns and textured surfaces that create a sort of grazing maze. The textures and patterns help lock food in place so that your pup has to actively lick at their meal or treat rather than just chomping it down in two seconds flat. It’s like a puzzle for their tongue!


2. Why Use a Lick Mat Instead of Just Eating It?

There are so many amazing benefits to using a lick mat! Here are just a few:

  1. Stress Relief: Licking releases pleasure endorphins in your dog’s brain, which can help calm them down in stressful situations. Lick mats are like a doggy spa day!
  2. Mental Stimulation: Lick mats provide a fun mental challenge for your pup as they figure out how to get every last morsel of food. It’s like doggy sudoku!
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Lick mats can be a great tool for positive reinforcement during activities like nail trimmings and baths. Suddenly, grooming time becomes treat time!
  4. Boredom Buster: If your dog is prone to boredom (and let’s face it, who isn’t these days?), a lick mat can provide endless entertainment. It’s like giving them their own Netflix series to binge on!
  5. Slower Eating: If your dog tends to inhale their food faster than a vacuum cleaner, a licking mat can help slow them down and encourage healthier eating habits. It’s like the doggy version of mindful eating!
  6. Exercise Substitute: If your pup is on restricted exercise due to an injury or surgery, a lick mat can provide much-needed mental stimulation to keep them from going stir-crazy. It’s like physical therapy for their brain!
  7. Distraction Device: Need to distract your dog while you take an important Zoom call or sneak out for a quick errand? A lick mat is your new best friend! It’s like hiring a doggy babysitter but way cheaper.
dog lick mat

3. Can I Use the Lick Mat as a Feeder?

Absolutely. Small dogs love feeding off a licking pad. Licking pads are suitable for use as wet or dry food dog feeders. Consider these factors:

  • Size of the dog and amount of food: Lick mats are generally better suited for small to medium-sized dogs or for feeding smaller portions like snacks or medication. A small lick mat wouldn’t be able to hold enough food for a large dog’s entire meal.
  • Food type: Lick mats work best with wet food, spreads, or mashed-up kibble. Dry kibble on its own might not be as engaging for your dog on a lick mat.
  • The goal of feeding: Lick mats are great for slowing down eating and providing mental stimulation, but they may not be as effective at portion control compared to a traditional food bowl.


4. Can Licking Mats Tire Dogs Out?

One of the most common questions I get about lick mats is whether they can actually tire dogs out. The answer is yes, but not necessarily in the same way that physical exercise does.

Here’s how lick mats can contribute to your dog’s sense of calmness and relaxation:

  1. Mental Stimulation: Licking is a natural and calming behaviour for dogs, and the textured surfaces of lick mats provide mental stimulation as they work to extract treats or food. This mental workout can be tiring, similar to how solving a puzzle or playing a brain game can tire out a human.
  2. Focus and Concentration: Using a lick mat requires focus and concentration from your dog as they navigates the texture and search for every last bit of food. This focused activity can be mentally tiring and lead to a sense of relaxation afterwards.
  3. Release of Endorphins: As mentioned earlier, licking triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormones linked to pleasure and well-being in dogs. These endorphins can have a calming effect and contribute to a more tired and relaxed state.


It’s important to note that lick mats may not tire out a dog in the same way as a long walk or intense play session. However, the mental stimulation and focus required can be very calming and contribute to your dog’s overall sense of relaxation and contentment.

5. How to Choose the Right Size Lick Mat for Dogs?

If you’re mainly using the lick mat for enrichment and mental stimulation, a smaller size may be sufficient, even for larger dogs. However, if you’re using the mat as a slow feeder or for full meals, you’ll want to choose a size that can hold enough food for your dog’s needs.

Another factor to consider is your dog’s eating style. Some dogs are neat and tidy eaters, while others are more enthusiastic and messy. If your dog tends to knock their bowl around or make a mess while eating, a larger lick mat with a non-slip bottom may be more stable and easier for them to use.

As a general guideline, small lick mats (around 5-6 inches in diameter) are great for puppies, small dogs, or for feeding small portions and treats. Medium lick mats (around 7-8 inches) are suitable for most medium to large dogs, while extra-large mats (9 inches or more) are best for giant breeds or for feeding full meals.

dog licking mat

6. How Long Do Lick Mats Last? 

As for how long a lick mat will keep your dog occupied, that can vary depending on a few factors:

  1. The type of food or treat you put on the mat: Stickier, thicker foods like peanut butter or mashed potatoes will generally last longer than thinner, runnier foods like yoghurt or broth.
  2. Whether the mat is frozen or not: Freezing the mat with food on it can help make the treat last longer and provide a cool, refreshing experience for your dog.
  3. Your dog’s licking style and enthusiasm: Some dogs are more thorough and persistent lickers, while others may lose interest more quickly.
funny image with dog

On average, a frozen lick mat with a thick, sticky food like peanut butter can keep most dogs occupied for anywhere from 10-30 minutes or more. A non-frozen mat with a thinner food may only last a few minutes, but can still provide valuable mental stimulation and enrichment for your pup.

loobani pet puzzle toys

7. How to Make a Lick Mat Treat Last Longer?

The more intricate the pattern, the longer it usually takes a dog to clean a lick mat. Look for mats with lots of small nooks and crannies. You can also spread a soft treat on the mat and then freeze it to make it last longer and help cool your dog down on hot days.

Additionally, stickier treats tend to last longer—try using peanut butter instead of yoghurt, for example.

8. How Long to Freeze a Lick Mat?

It depends on your dog’s preferences and what you’re serving. As a general guideline:

  • For soft, wet ingredients like yoghurt, pureed fruit, peanut butter or bone broth-based mixtures: Freeze for around 1-2 hours.
  • For firmer ingredients like meat: you’ll need to extend a longer freezing time, like 2-4 hours or overnight. A shorter freezing time will provide a firm but not rock-solid consistency that’s perfect for pups who are new to licking mats or those who prefer a softer chew. They can still enjoy the yummy flavours without feeling overwhelmed by a rock-hard treat. A longer freeze time creates a harder texture, so it generally takes longer for your dog to enjoy the entire treat, keeping them occupied and mentally stimulated for extended periods.
close up dog with beautiful eyes smiling

Here’s the Golden Rule:

Start with a shorter freeze and see how your dog does. If they gobble it up in seconds, try a longer freeze next time for a more extended icy adventure! The key is to find the sweet spot that keeps them entertained and mentally stimulated.

9. Should I Try More Than One Type of Licking Mat?

Absolutely. Different surfaces are suited to different types of treats, such as slurry, solid, chunky, or liquid. They also respond differently to the pressure from your dog’s tongue. It’s always a good idea to experiment with various surfaces to see what works best for your pup.

10. How Often Can You Give Your Dog a Lick Mat?

The good news is that there’s no strict rule, but there are a few factors to consider to ensure it’s a healthy and enjoyable experience for your pup:

  1. Diet and Calorie Intake: While lick mats are great for enrichment and mental stimulation, they can also add extra calories to your dog’s diet. Be mindful of the type and amount of food you’re using and adjust their regular meals accordingly. Lick mats shouldn’t replace a balanced diet.
  2. Variety and Enrichment: While lick mats are stimulating, using them too frequently might make them less exciting for your dog over time. Mix things up by rotating lick mats with other enrichment activities like puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, or training sessions to keep things interesting and engaging.
  3. Behavior and Obsession: Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior while using the lick mat. If they become overly fixated or start resorting to chewing or aggressive licking, it might be a sign that they need a break or a different type of enrichment.

dog enrichment matters

As a general guideline, using a lick mat once or twice a day is usually fine for most dogs, as long as you’re mindful of their overall diet and calorie intake. You can also use lick mats as a special treat or reward for good behaviour rather than an everyday occurrence.

11. How to Clean Dog Lick Mats?

One of the best things about lick mats is how easy they are to clean! Since they’re typically made from silicone, all you need is some warm water and dish soap to get them squeaky clean.

close up cute dog holding stick

To clean your dog’s lick mat, start by rinsing off any loose food debris under running water. Then, add a small amount of dish soap and use your hands or a soft brush to gently scrub the mat, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Rinse the mat with running water to remove all the soap, and then either let it air dry completely or you can pat it dry with a clean towel.

If you’re having trouble getting into all the crevices of the mat, you can also let it soak in warm, soapy water for a few minutes to help loosen any dried-on food. A pipe cleaner or small bottle brush can also be helpful for getting into tight spots.

Some lick mats are even dishwasher safe, which makes cleanup a total breeze! Just don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s instructions first to ensure that your mat is safe to put in the dishwasher.

smiley dog sitting by water

Top Tips: For a super easy cleanup, give your dog’s lick mat a quick rinse right after they’re finished. Fresh food residue washes away much easier than dried-on bits, and it helps prevent bacteria growth.

12. Any Tips or Tricks to Keep a Lick Mat in Place?

Here are some tips:

  • Look for a lick mat with strong suction cups: These will help the mat grip the floor and prevent your pup from turning it into a moving feast.
  • Clean and Dry the Surface: Before sticking the lick mat down, make sure the floor surface is clean and dry. This will allow the suction cups to form a strong bond.
  • Smooth and Flat Surfaces: Choose a smooth, flat surface like tile or laminate flooring for optimal placement. Avoid carpets or rugs, which can easily bunch up under the mat.
  • Cornered or Confined Spaces: Try placing the lick mat in the corner of the kitchen or bathroom or confining it within a playpen or X-pen. This can help prevent your dog from pushing it around.
  • Wet a Paper Towel: Place a damp paper towel underneath the lick mat to add a little weight and prevent it from sliding.

13. Can Lick Mats Go in the Microwave?

Yes, most lick mats are made from silicone and can withstand microwave temperatures. You can use them to warm up or even cook food directly on the mat.

14. Can Cats Use Lick Mats, too?

Yes, many cats enjoy the challenge of licking mats! They are a great way to slow down fast eaters. Try using wet cat food or cat-specific squeeze treats.


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.