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Does your dog wriggle, push and escape from bathtime? Maybe your dog turns into an anxious mess every time a thunderstorm rolls in…
Or maybe you are looking for a good toy for a dog that loves to lick.
If that sounds like your dog, then a lick mat is the solution you are looking for.
Simply smear some peanut butter across a lick mat for the ultimate doggy distraction!
We spent over 120 hours testing 11 different lick mats. We reviewed how long they distracted dogs and their durability and suitability for different breeds. All to answer a single question…
Which lick mat is best for your dog?
Want the answer? Then read on!
The best lick mats
In our hunt to find the best, we tested and reviewed over 11 different lick mats. It was a long journey, but eventually, we narrowed down the competition to 4 winners, each great in their own way.
To start, I’m going to share the best lick mat for most dogs. From there, I make recommendations for those looking for something a little more specialized, such as a specific pick for doggy baths and even one for anxious dogs.
|Food||Average Lick Time|
|Regular peanut butter||17 minutes|
|Frozen peanut butter||25 minutes|
Hyper Pet makes three fantastic lick mats, each with a unique pattern and texture. For most dogs, we recommend the Lickimat Buddy.
This lick mat hits the sweet spot between licking time, size and ease of cleaning. Nothing else comes close.
This orange-colored mat is available in two sizes:
- 8 x 8 inches
- 11 x 11 inches
We recommend choosing the large size because it provides more room to smear food. I took advantage of the extra space by using it to offer my dog different foods at once. One strip of peanut butter, one of pumpkin, and another of cream cheese. My pup loved it!
The large size really shines when it comes to hulking dogs with big tongues. I’m talking about Great Danes and St. Bernards. The extra space allowed me to smear enough food that it kept even those powerful lickers occupied.
If you need a lick mat to distract your dog while you do chores or give your dog a treat, then this is as good as it gets. Be mindful, however, that because this lick mat rests on the floor, it’s not a suitable distraction for bathing your pup. Check out our next recommendation instead.
Speaking of which, because it’s made from flexible rubber, the Lickimat Buddy didn’t slip – even on tiled and wood flooring. Even with our testers’ powerful tongue strokes making their way across the mat, the mat wouldn’t budge.
My only complaint is that this mat is not dishwasher-safe – even on the top rack. A trip through the dishwasher caused it to bend and warp out of shape. When cleaning time rolls around, hand wash it before storing flat.
After our overwhelmingly positive experience with the Lickimat Buddy, we are confident that it is the best all-round lick mat available. Highly recommended.
Update: The lickimat buddy is now available in three different colors – orange, green and blue.
|Food||Average Lick Time|
|Regular peanut butter||10 minutes|
|Frozen peanut butter||21 minutes|
What makes the Aquapaw Slow Treater lick mat the most suitable for grooming is what’s found on the back. Flip this lick mat over, and you’ll see three suction cups, one on each corner.
This allows you to place the mat at eye level to your dog. I find it much easier to brush my furry pup when she is looking straight ahead rather than hunched over. Plus, if the lick mat rests on the ground, hair falls into it and becomes stuck in the peanut butter.
Similarly, I found my pup more likely to present her front paws for trimming when using a wall-mounted lick mat. This is likely because when she is hunched over a floor lick mat, she uses her front paws to support her weight.
But where the Aquapaw Slow Treater really shines is in the bathroom. The three suction cups held strong no matter where we placed it – shower glass, side of the bathtub or even the tiled wall.
Most of our testers hate baths. Mention the word ‘bathtime,’ and our two Labrador testers will hide behind the couch. Meanwhile, I have to physically place my pup in the bathtub and hold her by the collar while my husband scrubs and rinses the suds out of her wooly coat. We all get covered in water as our pup puts up a fight.
The Aquapaw Slow Treater exceeded our expectations by a long shot. It did take some getting used to, though. We had to show each dog the peanut-butter-filled lick mat the first few times, and it took a bit for them to settle. But before long, they soon knew that bathtime meant they received a tasty treat.
In fact, if I place the lick mat on the wall of my bathtub, my pup now voluntarily hops in. Prior to testing lick mats, I never would have imagined this was possible!
Our Labrador tester was another success story. He tore the ACL in his leg a few years ago and since then snaps at anyone who touches him below the shoulder. Grooming him has always been difficult.
With him happily slurping away at the lick mat, he didn’t react to us giving him a brush or even a good scrub!
The Aquapaw lick mat held strong even when Havoc, our super-strong Pit Bull Terrier tester licked it with all his might.
Just be careful when you rinse out the shampoo and conditioner – you don’t want to cover your pup’s treat with soap!
While the Slow Treater is dishwasher-safe, we recommend hand washing. Doing so will extend the life of the suction cups.
If you are tired of wrestling your dog while you groom him, then the Aquapaw Slow Treater is the lick mat you are looking for. Highly recommended.
|Food||Average Lick Time|
|Regular peanut butter||15 minutes|
|Frozen peanut butter||24 minutes|
When testing the lick mats as distractions for anxiety, we noticed something unusual… Lick mats that had tiny bumps and bristles were better at distracting our testers than other patterns.
Our dog testers were less likely to look up or react to their anxiety triggers when they were licking these textures.
And out of all the bristled lick mats we tested, none performed better than the Hyper Pet Lickimat Soother. It’s identical to our top pick except for the pattern. If your dog isn’t anxious, then I recommend that one instead because it gives a longer lick time.
The Lickimat Soother is available in two sizes:
- 8 x 8 inches
- 11 x 11 inches
Just as before, we recommend the larger size. You don’t have to cover the entire mat if you don’t need to.
Despite his tough attitude, our Pit Bull Terrier tester hates thunder. It makes him shake in fear. We were lucky enough to experience a short thunderstorm during the testing period. With his Lickimat Soother to distract him, you never would have guessed that this pup was afraid of thunder.
Our Yellow Labrador Retriever tester constantly growls when the neighbor comes to visit. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t like her. A lick mat provided the perfect distraction. In fact, he was so relaxed that he fell asleep with his head resting on the peanut butter, ignoring the neighbor completely.
I had my chance to test the Lickimat Soother during the Fourth of July fireworks. Ordinarily, my pooch runs around the house anxiously barking at the big bangs the fireworks give off – not this time. Harper happily licked her way through them, only flinching a few times for the particularly loud booms.
Again, my only gripe is that the Hyper Pet Lickimats are not dishwasher-safe. Soak and hand wash only. Dry and store flat to ensure that the Lickimat Soother keeps its shape.
If you have an anxious pup and are looking for a way to distract him, then the Lickimat Soother is the perfect lick mat for you. Highly recommended!
|Food||Average Lick Time|
|Regular peanut butter||24 minutes|
|Frozen peanut butter||35 minutes|
I know it’s designed for use when bathing your dog, but the Bath Bones Anxiety Bones worked exceptionally well in the car. It’s the best lick mat for traveling by far.
At 5-inches long and 2.5-inches wide, this lick mat was perhaps the smallest we tested. The Anxiety Bone took up very little room in my handbag and is the ideal lick mat for those looking to pack light.
Despite its small size, the Anxiety Bone provided the longest average lick time of any lick mat we tested. More than long enough to finish a local car trip!
The horizontal grooves are exceptionally difficult to clean out completely. Speaking of which, because you hang this on your window, I only recommend peanut butter. Anything runnier like yogurt drips down your car door making a mess. Trust me… I learned the hard way.
The suction cups held strong, and even our toughest doggy tester couldn’t budge the Anxiety Bone by licking it.
My dog is too clever for her own good. She knows exactly when we are going to the vet. It doesn’t matter if I take different streets, she knows something is off. Her mood changes, and she looks sad and anxious – it breaks my heart.
Using a lick mat in the car was all it took to distract her. She didn’t even realize she was at the vet until I opened the car door!
The bone shape makes this look more like a toy than other lick mats. A few of our testers even tried to pull it off the window when first presented with it. Fortunately, the suction cups gripped tight. Our pups soon got the hang of it and began licking it as intended.
Now, I must mention that there is a downside to sticking a lick mat to your car window. It will get covered in tongue marks where your dog missed the edges of the lick mat. This isn’t much of a problem for me. I am forever wiping nose prints from the car windows, so this is just more of the same.
If you want a small lick mat to keep your pup distracted in the car or while traveling, then this is the perfect lick mat for you!
The lick mats that didn’t make the cut
While our top picks outperformed, the following lick mats fell short in one way or another.
Don’t get me wrong… This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are bad lick mats. After all, each one can be smeared with peanut butter and will distract your dog to some degree. However, based on our testing, we see little reason to choose these lick mats over our recommendations above.
Average Lick Time: 12 minutes – not including the dogs that gave up
While we loved Hyper Pet’s other two lick mats, the blue square pattern on their Licklimat Playdate failed to impress. This was the only lick mat to frustrate our testers. We had two dogs actually walk away from it before they finished their treat – something that didn’t happen with the other lick mats. Our Pit Bull Terrier tester became so annoyed that he attempted to pick the mat up and chew the peanut butter out. The peanut butter got caught in the corners of the squares making it difficult for dogs to lick out.
Average Lick Time: 4 minutes
The spiderweb pattern on this lick mat is not deep or complex enough to slow down our doggy testers. And, it was also too small for our larger testers.
Average Lick Time: 3 minutes
Another mat that didn’t challenge dogs. While it had the same soothing effect as our top pick for anxious dogs, it was cleaned out all too quickly.
Average Lick Time: 4 minutes
The suction cups on this lick mat were terrible. On the back, there are numerous suction cups. Despite having more suction cups than any other lick mat (37 to be exact!), it was forever falling off windows and sliding down bathtubs. The smooth bone pattern also performed poorly at slowing down our lickers.
What is a lick mat and does your dog need one?
Sometimes called Lickimats, these small, flat mats are for your dog to lick, over and over again.
Simply smear food over the mat and give it to your dog. Because of the flat design, your pooch will not be able to lift the food with his teeth. Instead, he has to use his tongue to remove every last piece of the tasty treat.
The beauty of the lick mat is the amount of time it takes for your dog to remove all the food. In fact, during our testing, we discovered that a lick mat can easily entertain a dog for more than 30 minutes.
Let’s take a closer look at the most popular uses for lick mats…
1. Keep your dog still when you groom
I’ll admit that this was perhaps my favorite use of lick mats. If your dog is food-focused, use a lick mat to keep your dog in place while you perform puppy maintenance.
Do you have a dog that runs every time it’s bathtime? Or maybe your pooch won’t hold still when you brush his coat? Load up a lick mat with peanut butter, and watch as your dog forgets all about grooming time – it works like magic!
As your dog focuses on his tasty treat, you have all the time you need to perform your doggy beauty routine.
Some lick mats even have suction cups. This way, they stick to the wall of your shower so that your dog’s treat doesn’t get covered with soapy water.
Have you ever tried to cut your dog’s nails? For me, it’s a two-person job. My husband holds the dog while I attempt to trim her nails as quickly as possible. With help from a lick mat, I can cut my dog’s nails by myself.
If you have a dog that just won’t sit still when you groom him, I highly recommend a lick mat.
A lick mat just may be the solution for your anxious pup.
2. Distract your pup while you do other things
Another reason I love lick mats is that they give you a moment without your dog getting in the way. Don’t get me wrong! It warms my heart that my precious pooch follows me from room to room. But there are times when Harper gets in the way.
Like when I change my bed sheets. As I spread clean sheets over the bed, my pup thinks it’s an invitation to hide in them, wrapping herself up. What would normally be a 5-minute activity takes closer to half an hour.
Similarly, when I’m running late for a dinner date, Harper constantly gets in the way. I have tripped over this doggy roadblock on more than one occasion.
Now, all I do is give her a lick mat and know that I have about 30 minutes of dog-free time for chores or just to relax and pamper myself. You don’t buy a lick mat for your dog… You buy it for you!
3. Soothe anxiety
Does your dog become an anxious mess around strangers? Or perhaps, thunderstorms cause your pooch to shake and panic.
Once again, take advantage of a lick mat’s ability to distract your dog. By the time he finishes the lick mat, the anxious trigger will have passed.
We witnessed this firsthand during testing. Harper aggressively barks at the vacuum cleaner. I guess she thinks it’s going to attack her. But she ignored it when given a lick mat, allowing me to clean the entire house without her interfering.
Similarly, a Pomeranian named Chester gets anxious when guests she hasn’t met before enter her home. She’s fine after spending some time around them, but the initial meeting is always stressful. A lick mat eliminated this behavior entirely.
4. Eliminate boredom
No one likes to be bored, and your dog is no different. When dogs become bored, they often express themselves with problem behavior. From chewing on furniture to loud barking – not what you want, right?
A lick mat is a great way to entertain your dog. Your pup will be mentally stimulated while he uses his tongue to clean out each groove and ridge of the mat. Even if your dog can’t figure out more complicated puzzle toys, he will quickly get the hang of a lick mat.
5. Slow down mealtime
Does your dog gulp down his meal in seconds? A lick mat can be used to slow down mealtime.
The problem with most slow feeder products is that they are made for dry dog food like kibble.
A lick mat is better suited to wet food. Canned food and gravy in particular worked the best. By smearing these across the lick mat, your dog won’t be able to eat the chunks in a single gulp, extending mealtime.
Some owners we spoke to trimmed the lick mats down to fit inside their favorite dog bowl. Want to do the same? A quick snip with a pair of scissors is all it takes.
If you found yourself nodding to any of the above scenarios, then a lick mat is the solution you’ve been looking for.
But a lick mat isn’t for everyone. If you feed your dog dry foods, such as kibble, then a lick mat won’t slow down your dog. The loose kibble sits on top of a lick mat within easy reach of your gulping dog. If you can’t smear it, skip the lick mat.
I will also add that you need to be careful with chewers. Because lick mats are typically made from rubber or silicone, your dog can easily confuse it with a chew toy.
Ideally, lick mats should be used under supervision. Lick mats are not a toy and certainly not designed to be chewed. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, you might want to reconsider a lick mat – you don’t want your dog swallowing it!
Once your dog has successfully licked off all traces of his meal, take the lick mat away. Replace it with a tough dog toy instead, one that will hold up to your dog’s rough play.
Like with any new product that you give your dog, monitor how your pup interacts with the lick mat, and remove it if necessary.
Oh, and check out our best peanut butter for dogs guide We tested and reviewed over 50 different types before picking 3 winners – perfect for smearing on a lick mat.
As you see, there are many advantages to giving your dog a lick mat. But not all lick mats are created equally. To find the best lick mats, we had to review them. Here’s exactly how we did that…
How we tested
At DogLab, we don’t recommend any products we wouldn’t happily give our own precious pups. Because of this, we vigorously tested, compared and reviewed each lick mat featured in this guide. All up, we spent over 120 hours testing the various lick mats.
The first thing we had to do was decide which lick mats to review. So, we set out interviewing dog owners who use lick mats, pet store owners and a dog behavior expert to narrow down the selection.
During our research, it surprised us to learn that lick mats are not a commonly known product, and few brands offer them in their product range. By the end, we purchased 11 lick mats in a variety of sizes and styles.
Next, we enlisted the help of our four-legged testers. The following pups were more than happy to provide their licking skills to assist with the review:
- Havoc – Pit Bull Terrier
- Norris – Miniature Australian Shepherd
- Holly – Boxer Foxhound
- Tucker – Yellow Labrador Retriever
- Cooper – Black Labrador Retriever
- Harper – Border Collie X German Shepherd
In addition to the usual gang of testers, I hauled the lick mats down to the nearest dog park and spent the day asking various dog owners if they would let their dog test the lick mats. If you saw a crazy lady washing a pile of lick mats at your local dog park, that was me!
This added another 13 dogs to the test, including a Neapolitan Mastiff that drooled more than any dog I have ever seen, a flat-faced French Bulldog, and an itty-bitty Chihuahua who’s super-patient owner waited 50 minutes for her small-tongued pup to finish licking up every last bit.
We measured out a dollop of peanut butter and smeared it across each lick mat. We then timed how long it took for each dog to remove every last bit.
We then went a step further and tested each lick mat’s performance across a variety of real-life situations, including grooming and washing. We even tested how well the lick mats worked at distracting dogs from conditions that make them anxious.
Each lick mat was then graded on how well it performed. We considered the following when choosing the winners:
- How long did it take each dog to completely clean the lick mat?
- Was the lick mat suitable for a broad range of dog breeds?
- Was it easy to smear food across the lick mat?
- How easy was the lick mat to clean?
- Did the lick mat frustrate our testers?
- How well did the lick mat stick to walls? (suction-cup models only)
- Did the lick mat show signs of wear after the review period?
After a whopping 120 hours of reviewing, I can confidently say that our top picks excel in each of these areas.
While testing each lick mat for the above qualities, we made some observations that are worth mentioning:
Licking time varies according to the food
Lick mats can be used with a large number of spreadable foods. Some of the foods we tested include:
- Canned dog food and gravy
- Chicken broth
- Squashed banana
- Peanut butter
We noticed that thicker, stickier foods clung to the lick mat longer – extending the time it took for our dogs to clean out the mat.
Peanut butter is basically the perfect lick mat food. Not only is it easy to smear and push into the mat, but it also took the longest for our dogs to lick up in our timed tests.
For the longest lick time possible, apply the peanut butter to the lick mat and place it in your freezer. Once the peanut butter has frozen, give the lick mat to your dog for a long-lasting treat!
Big dogs lick quicker than smaller dogs
The larger your dog, the bigger its tongue. This means that a German Shepherd can lick more of the mat with each tongue pass than a tiny Chihuahua. Large dogs can lick their way through a lick mat faster than a small one.
This was only a problem with the smaller lick mats we reviewed. These tiny mats just didn’t keep our large dogs occupied for long enough to complete tasks like grooming.
If you have a large dog, don’t settle for a small-sized lick mat. Fortunately, the lick mats we reviewed kept even the largest power-licker busy for over half an hour!
Lick mats are a slow feeder for small dogs only
Are you considering a lick mat to slow down your pup’s rapid eating? Unless you have a small dog, I don’t really recommend it.
The problem is that lick mats can only hold so much food. Anything that isn’t smooshed into the mat will be within easy reach of your dog.
Because small dogs eat considerably less than larger dogs, we could smear their entire meal onto a single lick mat.
For a large dog, say a Rottweiler, you need to refill the lick mat multiple times for each meal. Trust me when I say, this gets old, real fast.
I won’t deny that lick mats are great for slowing down dogs of all sizes. But there comes a point where it is no longer practical.
Phew, if you made it this far, congratulations! You now know which lick mat is perfect for your dog.
A recap of our results…
The best lick mats we tested:
- Lickimat Buddy – Best all-round lick mat
- Aquapaw Slow Treater – Best lick mat for baths and grooming
- Lickimat Soother – Best lick mat for anxious dogs
- Anxiety Bone – Best lick mat for car trips and traveling
Which lick mat do you use to distract your pup? Let me know in the comments below!Tagged With: bowl, food