Searching for a way to keep your pup engaged, soothed, or just downright occupied? Look no further than a lick mat. A go-to essential for many pet parents, lick mats for dogs provide a way for your pet to relax, have fun, and tap into their natural instincts. Plus, they incorporate one of your dog’s favorite things: food.
While games like fetch or tug of war allow you to bond with your pet and to give them exercise, a lick mat can be a soothing, low-impact activity for when your canine companion needs some downtime. And unlike a game of fetch, a lick mat only requires a small space, so it can be taken on the road for whenever your dog might need a distraction.
Read on to see our list of the best licking mats for dogs, along with plenty of reasons why you might want to purchase one for your own pup.
Our Top Lick Mat Picks for Happy Pups
What is a Dog Lick Mat?
A dog lick mat (also sometimes called a dog lick pad) is a small, flat mat typically made of silicone or rubber with ridges that allows you to spread treats inside for your dog to lick and eat. Anything from peanut butter to pumpkin to canned dog food can be used, and it can also be frozen to make the activity more challenging for your pet. But lick mats aren’t just fun; they can be incredibly valuable to your pet’s wellbeing, too.
Benefits of Lick Mats for Dogs
“Lick mats are extremely beneficial to dogs of all ages. I recommend them to pet parents to reduce anxiety, relieve boredom and stress, or to make grooming easier,” explains Cailin Cooke, certified dog trainer.
Licking is a behavior that naturally soothes dogs, so a lick mat is convenient to have on hand for situations when you want to keep your dog calm and entertained, whether you have an excited new puppy or an anxious older pet. “They are also a great way to help introduce handling, grooming, and [acclimation] to new places for puppies,” Cooke adds. “You can bring your lick mat in the car to help make car rides fun, while the licking is helping reduce anxiety and calm the dog.”
You can also use lick mats at mealtime to help slow down dogs who eat too fast, as a way to give restless pups a place to exert their energy, or as an indoor activity on rainy days.
Types of Lick Mats for Dogs
While all lick mats provide similar benefits and work in the same general way, there are a few different types you can choose from.
Classic Lick Mat
Typical licking mats feature a flat surface with indentations that can be filled with treats or food. They differ in the type of pattern, which can make them easier or more challenging to use. These lick mats come in different shapes and sizes for pups of all ages and abilities.
Lick Mat with Suction Cups
If your dog has a tendency to move the lick mat around a lot — or if they’ve discovered that slamming it on the floor is effective at dislodging treats — suction cups can keep it firmly attached to the ground. Suction cups can also secure the lick mat to the wall, which can be helpful when bathing your dog or in other situations where you’d like them to remain calm and entertained, like vet visits.
Bowl Lick Mats
Lick mats designed in the shape of a bowl have a dual purpose. Without a steady base, the bowls “wobble” and add a level of difficulty. This helps encourage your dog to use their brain to figure out how to best get the treat. Some bowl lick mats can also function as slow feeders for dogs that tend to scarf their food down too quickly.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
In order to select the best-of-the-best licking mats for our list, we focused on the following:
Durability/safety. Let’s face it: a lot of dogs like to chew. And since these mats are designed specifically to be used with food, we checked out the material of each to make sure it was safe for animals and would hold up for the long haul. (Of course, it’s important to note that no lick mat is totally indestructible, so you should always supervise your pup while they’re licking.)
Convenience. As pet parents, we typically have a lot of things to scrub, sweep, vacuum, and wash, so convenient cleaning is key when it comes to any new gear. That’s why we included a bunch of options that can be thrown right in the dishwasher. (Don’t worry, even the ones that can’t are super easy to hand wash right in the sink!)
Ratings/reviews. Since it’s important to see what others have to say about the products we purchase for our pets, we looked at customer reviews, noting some likes/dislikes.
Price. Finally, we tried to provide a range of options that fit into a variety of budgets.
8 Best Lick Mats for Dogs
If you’re looking for a fun new activity for your dog, try one of these lick mat recommendations.
Overall Best Lick Mat for Dogs
Our pick: Lickimat Classic Soother
Our top pick is a classic dog lick mat that’s affordable, high quality, and perfect for pups of all ages. This lick mat is made from food-grade rubber and without BPA, phthalates, or PVC. There are a few different designs to choose from, but the Soother is ideal for giving your pet some calm, quiet time. It’s perfect for spreadable foods, like peanut butter, or freezing pet-safe bone broth. Using a lick mat like this encourages saliva production, and it gently scrapes your dog’s teeth, both of which are good for dental health.
While this lick mat is not dishwasher safe, it’s easy to hand wash with hot water and soap.
- Made from food-grade rubber
- Patterned design encourages licking
- Affordable price
- Helps keep teeth and gums clean
- While the material is non-slip, there is no suction cup to secure it to the ground.
- Not dishwasher safe
Best Lick Mat with Suction Cups
Our pick: Mighty Paw Dog Lick Pad
If your pet is likely to drag a lick mat through your house, try choosing one with suction cups that secure it to the floor and keep their play contained. This licking mat is made with BPA-free, dishwasher-safe silicone and features four different patterns on the surface to provide a few different textural experiences for your pet.
It measures 9 inches by 5 inches, which is slightly larger than others to help keep your pup busy (and calmer!) for longer.
- Strong suction cups keep the lick mat securely in place
- Made of BPA-free silicone
- Larger size with multiple patterns/levels of difficulty
- Dishwasher safe
- Strong dogs may still be able to dislodge the lick mat
Best Dog Lick Mat for Enrichment
Our pick: LickiMat Wobble
If your dog is up for something a little more challenging, try a lick mat in a wobble-style bowl. Unlike the typical flat mat, this durable, recyclable natural rubber lick mat bowl requires more effort from your pet to get the treats. While it may seem easy, even giving your pet a simple task like this is an enriching activity that taps into their natural instincts. Because of the shape, you can also use it to feed your dog. (Pro tip: it’s especially helpful as a slow feeder if they eat too quickly!)
- “Wobble” shape creates a challenge for your dog
- Made with high quality, durable rubber
- Great for use as a slow feeder
- Freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe
- Not designed for heavy chewers (LikiMat recommends their Tuff mat for more destructive dogs)
- Typically only recommended for small/medium-size breeds
Best Lick Mat for Anxious Dogs
Our pick: Aquapaw Treat Dispensing Mat for Dogs
Lick mats are naturally soothing to dogs, and you can use this to your advantage to help your furry friend through uncomfortable moments. This lick mat is small but sturdy, and it has suction cups to secure it to the wall or floor. It can be suctioned to the tile or tub during bath, which many pet parents agree has been incredibly beneficial. And because it’s small, you can easily transport it to the veterinarian to keep your dog distracted during exams.
- Made with food-safe silicone
- Great for bath time or other anxiety-inducing situations
- Strong suction cups for sturdy securing
- Small and portable
- Dishwasher/freezer safe
- It may need to be frequently refilled, depending on your pet
Best Lick Mat for Messy Pets
Dogs can be exceptionally messy when it comes to lick mats, but this one is designed with cleanliness in mind. It comes with a tray to keep it in place while also keeping the treats or food within it contained. A tray like this can also help if your dog tends to turn lick mats into chew toys. Like bowl-style lick mats, it can be used for mealtime and slow down dogs who eat too quickly.
The lick mat itself can even be removed from the tray and placed in the freezer to freeze treats. Plus, both the mat and tray are dishwasher safe for added convenience.
- Comes with a tray to keep messes contained
- Removable mat is made of TPE, a rubber-like plastic that is both non-toxic and food-safe
- Tray and mat are dishwasher safe
- More expensive than other lick mats
Best Lick Mat for Large Dogs
Our pick: MateeyLife X-Large Lick Mat
Larger dogs have a tendency to move through licking mats quickly, but a bigger size can give them more play time. At 10 x 11.9 inches, this oversized mat allows your pup to cover more ground as they lick away. It features a whopping 152 suction cups on the back to keep it nice and secure, as well as four different patterns to provide added enrichment for your pup.
The best part? The food-grade silicone mat can be put right in the dishwasher for effortless cleaning.
- X-large size is ideal for large dogs and longer play time
- Multiple patterns to choose from
- 152 suction cups for a secure hold
- Made from BPA-free, non-toxic, food-grade silicone
- Dishwasher/freezer safe
- May be too large for smaller dogs or puppies (smaller sizes are available)
Best Lick Mat on a Budget
Most lick mats are pretty affordable, but at under $10, this one is a great budget pick. The classic, medium-sized mat features all of the soothing and calming lick mat benefits, as well as square grooves that make it moderately challenging for your pup. It features a TPE construction and is both dishwasher and freezer safe for added convenience. Overall, this lick mat is a solid, high-quality option for a low price. You might even consider grabbing a few so you’re never without an activity for your dog!
- Affordably priced
- High-quality material
- Good for dental health
- Freezer/dishwasher safe
- Some dogs may finish the lick mat quickly
Best Stylish Lick Mat
Our pick: Raw Paws Lick Mat
If you’re looking for a fun lick mat for your pet that’s also super cute, this paw print-shaped mat checks all the boxes. The BPA-free, food-grade silicone mat features two patterns, giving your dog a different experience in each. It also has suction cups on the back so you can secure it to most surfaces.
This mat isn’t huge, but it’s large enough to entertain most pets. Plus, it comes as a 2-pack, so you’ll have a backup as needed.
- Suction cups secure it to most hard surfaces
- Made with BPA-free, food-grade silicone material
- Cute paw design with multiple patterns
- Includes 2 lick mats
- Not the largest option, so dogs may finish faster
Dog Lick Mat Buying Guide
Though we know it can be overwhelming with so many options on the market, there are a few things to look for when choosing a lick mat for your dog.
Material/cleaning. It’s important to consider what the mat is made of, as well as how convenient it is for you to clean. “Features I look for in lick mats are dog/food safe silicone, [and] dishwasher safe, as it’s easiest to clean them this way, and not too deep of grooves,” says Cooke.
Suction or no suction. Depending on your situation and your dog, you may need a mat that stays put throughout the licking process. If you want to keep the lick mat in one spot or secure it to the wall, choose one that has suction cups or a tray.
Texture. There are also different patterns that can change how your pet uses the lick mat. Some are just designed for licking, while others might encourage your dog to use their teeth to remove the treats. Choosing the right one for your dog might take some experimentation.
Dog Lick Mat Ideas and Tips
Lick mats have plenty of advantages and uses, from soothing to entertaining to distracting. Here are a few tips to make lick time fun and successful for your pup.
Find the right food. No matter the reason you choose to use a lick mat, adding a tasty treat is vital. “My favorite kind of treats to use on lick mats are wet ones,” says Cooke. “Some ideas include canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling), cottage cheese, or any other mashed foods.”
She continues, “Wet dog food is great, or if you have a dog with a sensitive tummy, you can get the gastrointestinal wise canned food. I also love to use the ‘treat dust’ that’s left over in a treat bag and sprinkle that on top.”
Prolong the fun. To make lick mat sessions last longer, you can freeze the treats on the mat before giving it to your pet.
Think outside the box. Lick mats are great for so many different scenarios. Try breaking out the mat when a bad weather day keeps your pet from their daily walk, when fireworks are making them anxious, or when they need a distraction during a bath. Lick mats can also be used to feed your pet if you find they eat too quickly!
Prioritize safety. Just be sure to keep an eye on your dog when they’re using a lick mat and remove it when the food is gone, as some dogs will take the opportunity to turn the lick mat itself into a chew toy.