Lickimats are great. They provide your dog with something to do and the motion of licking helps relieve dogs of anxiety. In this article we're going to go through what a lickimat is - why do you use them? - as well as give some ideas of what kind of edibles you can top your lickimat with.
Lickimat is a rubber mat that pets can lick food off. It is designed to make it harder for pets to use and therefore taking longer time. The simplicity of having your dog occupied with this activity can serve many roles. Most commonly it is used when dogs experiences stress and anxiety, since it is soothing for dogs to lick. Since it has a delicious topping it is a pleasurable experience and can create positive associations. Instead of being overwhelmed by a negative emotion the dog can redirect their focus on something calming and tasty.
Examples of uses: dogs with separation anxiety, a stressful event occuring (parties? Fireworks?), nail trimming and so on.
If you're worried that your dog is going to destroy the lickimat when left alone, there is a "tougher" variant you can use. It is called LickiMat Tuff.
Sometimes it can be hard to come up with stuff to top your lickimat with, especially when you are new to using them or when you want to try a new topping. Here are some ideas:
There are paste-liked edibles especially made for these kind of things you can from any pet store. Some examples:
You can smudge wet/canned food on top of it. This is especially good for obese dogs as you can make it part of the daily ration of their food. It is also okay to use frozen fresh raw food. Just be careful of how you handle the food as bad bacteria grows easily, don't use food that has been defrosted for a longer period of time.
You can smudge apple sauce, preferable with no added sugar or peanutbutter with no xylitol. Almond butter works just as well, especially for people with peanut allergies.
Natural youghurt is also a possible candidate. Don't pick one with added sugar. Since dogs can be lactose intolerant, you either use it in small quantities or pick a lactose free product.
Pre-made baby food, you know those jars you can find in the diaper section of a grocery store, works just as well. Make sure that it doesn't contain any onions.
Mashed banana or any other safe-for-dogs fruits
Cream cheese or honey in moderate amount
If you want to use store bought liver paste pick ones without onions. Onions can make dogs anemic but exactly what amount that is required can vary between different dogs and breeds.
You can also use any crushed, powder'ed, food you want, as long as it is safe. If you are unsure of what foods are safe and what foods aren't you can find a list of it here
There really isn't a limit to how often you should use one, and I don't really think you can overuse it (unless in extreme cases?). How often you use it depends on the amount of something is safe/recommended for dogs. How often you use it also depends on how many times and how often you are willing to wash the lickimat. If the dogs daily ration of food is either fresh raw food or wet food you can part the daily meals using a lickimat.
If you want the lickimat to last longer you can put it in the freezer and later serve it frozen solid.
It's really difficult to clean a lickimat. My best advice is to drench it in water and soap and let the dirt dissolve before washing it yourself.
#1: Ah, yeah they are! BUT you still have to let it dissolve in water first because most dishwashers won't be able to wash of stuff that has "dried in".
If you have it in the dish washer it is also possible that it can get crooked and it can also happen in the freezer. But you can "unbend" it with enough patience since they are rubbery and flexible :)