Tools of the trade: LickiMat

licking mat

by Dr Rich Seymour, The Vet Collective, Miami, QLD

The LickiMat is a non-toxic rubber mat with indentations. Soft food or treats can be spread over the mat and a dog will spend ages licking the food off the mat. 

What’s good about it

We use a LickiMat with every dog consult. It’s an alternative to the vet using small food treats during the consult. Not only does it provide a very basic level of distraction but through repetitive experience, we can classically condition the dog to associate the vet clinic with something positive.

When we first got them, we were just loading them up with wet dog food. However, we found the dogs were getting through it pretty rapidly. Now we load them up with food, put them in the freezer and they are ready to go. It might take a dog a whole consultation to get all the frozen food out of the Lickimat. When we were using fresh food, some dogs were powering through it in two minutes.

The LickiMat has really made my life easier. The dog just stands there, concentrating on the food, and that makes a physical examination or a standard vaccination much easier. Often, I can give an injection without the dog knowing it’s happening because they’re so into this thing.

What’s not so good

Occasionally, we’ll treat a dog that resource guards food items and the LickiMat is pretty useless in that situation. You also need to check the dog doesn’t have any allergies or stomach issues before use. The LickiMat can only be positioned on the floor so it’s difficult to look in the patient’s eyes while the head is diverted down.

Where did you get it

Lots of online pet stores carry this product but we purchased ours from Pets of Australia.

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