If you are wondering what to put on a dog lick mat or lick mat recipes for dogs, you’ve no doubt heard what a fun way they are to give your dog treats. It’s a great way to entertain and mentally stimulate your fur babies. They are perfect for rewarding your dog for good behavior and it’s a fun and engaging way for them to interact with their food!
Some toppings are healthier and safer than others, so carefully choosing the treats for your dog’s lick mat is important (and reading the labels!). Additionally, some dogs may have dietary restrictions or allergies to consider. Remember that while this article focuses on a lick mat, dry food in a snuffle mat also makes an excellent way to make your dog’s mealtimes more fun and interactive.
To answer your questions, we have consulted our expert source, Healthy Homemade Dog Treats Simple & Delicious Treats for Your Furry Best Friend by Serena Faber-Nelson. Read on as we explore the various options for what to put on a dog lick mat.
So, What to Put on a Dog Lick Mat?
Suitable treats for a dog lick mat include peanut butter (without xylitol), goat’s milk, pumpkin puree (plain, not pie filling), kefir, and raw eggs. These are healthy options that encourage the act of licking, a soothing behavior for bored or anxious dogs. Remember to prioritize your dog’s safety and avoid any ingredients that could be harmful.
Another tip is to freeze the contents on the mat, making a lick mat popsicle for your dog. This is particularly great for warm days as a way to cool your dog down. However, remember that treats should never be excessive, as they can unbalance your dog’s diet and lead to weight gain.
Treats should never be more than 10% of your dog’s overall calories per day.
So, let’s look at some of the best ideas to place on your dog’s lick mat to maximize enjoyment and environmental enrichment.
17 Easy and Healthy Lick Mat Treat Ideas
When it comes to recipe ideas for lick mats, it’s also useful to make any combination of the ingredients and toppings below to feed your dog.
1. Regular Dog Food
Adding your dog’s regular food to their lick mat slows down eating, encourages foraging behavior, and provides mental stimulation. Quality dog food contains a balanced combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals necessary for your dog’s overall health.
One can simply put your dog’s regular meals across the mat and add some sodium-free bone broth. Then freeze the food on the mat. This way your dog gets their usual daily calorie intake, but in a much more fun and interactive way that keeps them busy for longer.
2. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, which supports muscle development and bone health in dogs. It adds flavor and provides a creamy texture to the lick mat.
Keep in mind, however, that excess calcium in a dog’s diet can contribute to some problems like certain kidney stones, constipation (see why is my dog’s poop white?), and lead to problems in growing puppies by causing their bones to grow too fast. So while treats like cottage cheese are generally good for dogs, we don’t want to give so much that excess calcium in their diet becomes a problem.
Scoop small spoonfuls of cottage cheese onto the lick mat, spreading it evenly for your dog to lick and enjoy.
Pouring kefir over your lick mat and freezing it makes it a frozen treat that takes longer to consume and provides a refreshing experience. Kefir contains natural probiotics that may aid in digestion and support a healthy gut flora in dogs. Although you can also add a canine specific probiotic chew to the mat for gut health.
Pour or spread kefir onto the lick mat before freezing, allowing your dog to lick and slowly enjoy the cold treat.
4. Goat’s Milk
Like kefir, goat’s milk contains natural probiotics and lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, making it easier on a dog’s stomach than regular milk. It’s also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats, which can contribute to a balanced diet for dogs in moderate amounts.
5. Raw Food with Quality Animal Protein
Choosing a quality and balanced raw or frozen dog food to put on your lick mat offers a raw and natural option with high-quality meat as a protein source. Balanced amounts of raw meat provide essential amino acids, vitamins (such as B vitamins), minerals (like iron and zinc), and fatty acids that support various aspects of a dog’s health, including coat quality and immune function.
Cut raw food into small, bite-sized pieces and scatter them across the lick mat, encouraging your dog to lick and savor each piece. Alternatively, grind the meat into mince and spread it across the mat.
6. Raw Egg
Raw egg adds variety and nutrients to the meal. Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein and contain essential fatty acids, vitamins (such as vitamin A and vitamin D), and minerals (like selenium), which contribute to healthy skin, coat, and overall well-being in dogs.
Lightly mix or pour raw egg onto the lick mat, allowing your dog to enjoy the novelty of licking up the egg.
7. Pureed Organ Meat (e.g., liver):
This provides nutrient-rich organ meat but should be offered in moderation to avoid vitamin toxicity. While organ meat is generally good for dogs, some nutrients, like vitamin A & D, build up in the liver. This can eventually lead to toxicosis if dogs get too much. So adding a teaspoon of liver to your dog’s lick mat is a great way to get them excited, just don’t overdo it.
Organ meats, like liver, are highly nutritious and contain vitamins (such as vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12), minerals (like iron and copper), and other beneficial compounds that support various bodily functions in dogs, including energy metabolism and immune health.
8. Peanut butter (free of xylitol)
Dogs enjoy peanut butter’s taste and texture, making it a great option for a lick mat. However, ensuring that the peanut butter does not contain xylitol is crucial. The artificial sweetener is toxic to dogs. Choose a peanut butter brand specifically labeled as safe for dogs or one containing only peanuts as the ingredient.
See more in our article on why dogs love peanut butter.
9. Plain Greek yogurt
Plain, unsweetened yogurt can provide a creamy and enjoyable experience for dogs while offering probiotics that promote digestive health. Probiotics may help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and support a strong immune system. Avoid yogurts with added sugars, sweeteners, or artificial flavors.
However, it is a myth that yogurt contains enough probiotics to be beneficial to dogs and the main strains in yogurt don’t survive the acidity of a dog’s gut. So while Greek yogurt is a great addition to your dog’s lick mat, remember to give them probiotics made for dogs for their intestinal health.
10. Pumpkin puree
High in fiber and nutrients, plain canned pumpkin puree is a tasty and healthy option for a lick mat. Look for plain pumpkin puree without added spices, sugars, or preservatives.
11. Mashed bananas
Mashed bananas appeal to dogs due to their naturally sweet taste and soft texture. They are a good source of potassium, which helps maintain proper muscle and nerve function. Bananas can be mashed and spread on the lick mat for your dog to enjoy.
12. Low-sodium chicken or beef broth
Adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to the lick mat can enhance the flavor and make it more enticing for your dog. Broth can provide hydration and add a savory element to the treat.
13. Applesauce (unsweetened)
Unsweetened applesauce is a tasty option for a lick mat treat. Dogs may enjoy the natural sweetness of applesauce. It can provide them with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, ensure it does not contain added sugars, sweeteners, or artificial additives.
14. Sweet potato puree
Cooked and mashed sweet potatoes are a nutritious and tasty option. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6 and minerals like potassium. Additionally, sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut.
15. Blueberry puree
Pureed blueberries can provide a burst of antioxidants and natural sweetness to the lick mat. Blueberries are delicious and low in calories, making them a guilt-free option for your dog. These little berries contain beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.
16. Watermelon cubes
Dogs can enjoy small, bite-sized seedless watermelon cubes as a refreshing treat. Watermelon is not only hydrating but also contains essential vitamins and minerals. The high water content in watermelon can help keep your dog hydrated. Remember to remove the seeds and rind them before serving.
17. Spinach puree
Blended spinach is a beneficial addition to a lick mat treat. Spinach contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that improve your dog’s well-being. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. Additionally, spinach offers minerals such as iron and calcium.
What Are The Benefits of a Dog Lick Mat?
Some of the benefits of using a dog lick mat are the following:
Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Licking can calm dogs, helping reduce anxiety and stress. Using a lick mat can provide a soothing and relaxing activity. Studies show that the act of licking releases endorphins for dogs, which helps soothe them. This is why licking can sometimes become excessive and dogs will lick their paws for hours. So a lick mats main purpose is to give dogs, especially puppies, a positive way to receive the feel-good hormones they get from licking
Lick mats provide mental stimulation for dogs as they engage their sense of taste and smell while working to lick off the treats or food from the textured surface. The more mental stimulation a dog has, the less you need to deal with problem behaviors that drive your nuts, leaving you asking questions like “do dogs ever get tired of barking?”
A lick mat can serve as a valuable distraction and source of entertainment for dogs. It can keep them occupied and engaged.
Lick mats can be incorporated into training sessions to reinforce positive behaviors. By rewarding dogs with treats on the mat, they learn to associate the mat with positive experiences.
Some lick mats can hold liquids, such as broth or water, which can benefit dogs who need encouragement to drink more water.
Treats You Should Not Include in Your Dog’s Lick Mat Treats
You can get creative and mix and match different ingredients. However, there are some foods and substances you should not include in your recipes. Also, it’s best not put some foods on a lick mat like cream cheese, as this is usually very high in fat.
Foods potentially harmful to dogs:
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Corn on the cob
Substances potentially harmful to dogs:
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
- Artificial sweeteners
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, and individual dogs may have different sensitivities and reactions to certain foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of using a lick mat for a dog?
Lick mats provide several benefits for dogs. They can help promote calm behavior by providing a relaxing and engaging activity. Licking a mat can also help alleviate boredom, reduce anxiety, and provide mental stimulation for your dog.
Can I make a homemade dog lick mat?
Yes, you can create a homemade dog lick mat using various materials. Common options include spreading peanut butter, yogurt, or wet dog food on a flat surface like a silicone baking mat or a plastic placemat. Be sure to choose dog-safe ingredients and supervise your dog during use.
What are some ideas for frozen dog lick mats?
Frozen lick mats can provide extended enjoyment for your dog. You can mix dog-friendly ingredients like kefir, plain yogurt, goat’s milk, mashed bananas, pureed pumpkin, or low-sodium chicken broth on the mat and freeze it. Alternatively, you can freeze yogurt, unsalted bone broth, or diluted peanut butter in an ice cube tray and place the cubes on the lick mat.
Do lick mats tire dogs out?
While lick mats can provide mental stimulation, they won’t tire out a dog physically. Licking is a relaxing activity for dogs and can help them settle down. They will still need physical exercises such as walks, playtime, or training sessions to help tire them out.
What are some lick mat alternativ-e-archives for dogs?
If you don’t have a lick mat or want to explore alternativ-e-archives, there are a few options you can consider. Some alternativ-e-archives include food puzzle toys, stuffed Kongs, treat-dispensing balls, or interactive feeding devices that require your dog to work for their food. You can also roll your dog’s food up in a towel and let them work out how to get it out.
Dog lick mats offer mental stimulation, relaxation, and dental benefits. Choose safe and healthy options like peanut butter, yogurt, pumpkin puree, and mashed bananas for your homemade lick mat. Let your pup enjoy the benefits of lick mats to keep them happy and engaged.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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