Lickimat is an Australian based company that has made huge waves in the dog (and cat!) industry. The original product was a food bowl designed to promote oral hygiene, however the company evolved and brought us the Lickimat square we know and love today. The original mat was designed by vets who wanted to help ease anxiety in dogs but the product has since been used for so much more, including use as a training aid, raw food dispenser, and all-round food and snack enrichment enabler.
So what’s the hype and why should you be adding one straight to your basket?
We know the importance of oral hygiene for us as humans, however there are worrying statistics amongst our four legged friends, with the Royal Veterinary College reporting that over 87% of dogs over three years of age are affected by periodontal disease (gum disease). As with the companies first product design, the lickimat can help promote a healthy mouth. It does this by increasing the production of saliva and by helping to scrape food particles and odour producing bacteria from the tongue, leading to a cleaner and more hygienic mouth.
Dogs love to lick! Whether they are grooming themselves, admiring your plate of food or showering you in kisses, every dog owner see’s their fair share of dog tongue around the house, however sometimes this innocent licking can become obsessive, leading to painful skin disorders and hair loss. This more intense form of licking can be caused by anxiety. Studies have shown that licking can produce endorphins within the brain that have a calming effect on the brain, so in the same way young children suck their thumb or grasp at a comfort blanket, our dogs look to lick to find comfort in stressful situations. We don’t want to take that comfort away from our dogs but we do want to protect them from harm, so the lickimat can be a great substitute and offer the dog a safer way to lick and relax without causing any damage to their skin. It is important that if your dog starts to show signs of a skin condition that you contact your vet for advice and medical treatment.
Even for dogs that don’t lick to the extent of causing skin complaints, the lickimat can help provide the endorphin release that relieves anxiety and is great to use in times of stress such as fireworks, building works or changes in routine.
Enrichment is a great way to exercise your dogs brain. The need for physical activity is well known and we all partake in regular walking to help keep our pets fit and healthy, however some dogs can seem to never have an ‘off switch’ or still display destructive behaviours around the house. The lickimat is a great way to extend meal times and provide new textures for your pet to enjoy and explore in a calming manor that can provide an outlet for your dogs mental energy. This mental outlet is extremely important in senior pets who’s usual activity levels have reduced, young pets who aren’t able to take on long walks yet or even in pets that are on reduced exercise post surgery.
The lickimat can also be a great training aid for everything from cooperative care, crate training and even boundary games. The ‘lickimat splash’ is perfect for this with it’s suction cup back that can be easily attached to glass, tiles, laminate and much more for hands free delivery of tasty treats, giving your pet a long lasting reward in an easy to deliver, clean and hygienic way.
There are an endless list of possibilities and uses for the extensive lickimat range that we stock with products to suit different needs and dogs. It’s design allows for small portions or treat to be used in much longer lasting way and the ability to freeze the products can further extend the enrichment experience. As with all products we recommend that dogs are supervised when using these enrichment aids and that toys are regularly checked for signs of wear and tear, replacing them when necessary.
Written by Beth Walker RVN from EnrichingPaws.