snuffle mat for raw fed dogs

Make a dishwasher-washable, silicone snuffle mat for your dog

Finally! A Snuffle Mat Solution For Raw Fed Dogs: No More Sticky Fleece Snuffle Mats Smothered In Raw Food!

If your dogs are raw fed, like mine, you might sometimes wish that you had a snuffle mat that is as easy to clean as a lickimat is. The standard fleece snuffle mats are fantastic, and perfectly suited to dry food, but sticky, wet meat… well, not so much. I’ve been pondering how to resolve this one for a while, and I’ve come up with a solution: a silicone snuffle mat that you can wash in the dishwasher!

Lickimat recipe book
Lickimat toppings and recipes for dogs – free recipe book

In this article:

Read me first (seriously)

You might be tempted to just jump straight to the ‘how to’, and I totally get that. There are a couple of things I’ve learned by experience though, that I think you’ll appreciate knowing before you scuttle over to the Dollar Store or Amazon for the raw materials.

Important note number 1 – the type of silicone baking sheet

I found that getting the right silicone baking sheets for this project is a bit like the Goldilocks And The 3 Bears fairytale – the heavyweight one is too heavy, the lightweight one is too light, but the middle one, well that’s just right. In other words, if you buy a really thick, good quality silicone sheet, it will be too dense to knot it easily. A really cheap, thin one will tear when you try to knot it. The middle one though, of around 1mm depth, is just the ticket.

1mm thick silicone sheet  -vs- a much thinner sheet
1mm thick silicone sheet (on the left) -vs- a much thinner sheet
1mm thick silicone sheet and a much thinner sheet
The strips with writing on are from a thinner sheet and they break too easily

Important note number 2 – this snuffle mat is not suitable for all dogs

If your dog is a wolfer, or has a tendency to eat things he shouldn’t (I’m thinking socks, tennis balls, the post…) you might want to reconsider whether this is the right enrichment toy for him. The last thing you want is for your beloved pooch to wolf down his dinner along with torn-off silicone strips.

I have 2 dogs, one of whom I could confidently leave with her food in any container, knowing the container would still be there once she’d eaten the food. My boy though, he’s another beast altogether. He has to be supervised when he eats, or he’s likely to wolf down the food AND whatever bowl it’s in.

I have used this snuffle mat with him, but I stay next to him in case his excitement gets the better of him and he starts to bite the snuffle mat too. You know your dog: if in doubt, avoid the risk.

Snuffle mat for wet and raw fed dogs
Snuffle mat for wet and raw fed dogs

How to make a silicone snuffle mat for wet dog food (eg raw food)

Materials you will need

  • sink drainer with holes (dishwasher washable) for the base mat. I got mine at Morrisons Supermarket for just ¬£1, but if you’re not in the UK, you can get something similar on Amazon like this.
  • silicone baking sheets – just how many depends on how big a snuffle mat you want, and how dense you want it to be. The finished snuffle mat in the photos measures 8×5″ (20x13cm) and is not terribly dense. It took 2 sheets that were 37x27x0.1cm. I recommend you get a sheet like this one that is 1mm thick
  • scissors
To make the silicone snuffle mat for raw and wet food you need a base mat and silicone baking sheets
Silicone baking sheet and sink drainer used for mat base

Instructions

Cut the silicone baking sheets into strips of 15-18cm long. I found that I could tie a knot with a strip of just 15cm, so if my silicone baking sheet measures 30cm, I get 2 rows of strips from each sheet with no wastage.

The width of each strip depends on the size of the holes in the base mat. Measure the hole and see what width silicone strip will fit through comfortably – I cut mine at 2cm wide.

Measure the hole in the base mat to see how wide to cut the strips
Measure the hole in the base mat to see how wide to cut the strips of silicone
cut the silicone sheet into strips
Cut the silicone sheet into strips

Get knotting! Once you have a fair few strips cut to size, get knotting! Start at one corner, pass the strip from the back of the base mat through to the front and knot it in place on the front side – don’t pull the knot too hard or you will break the strip. If you don’t pull it hard enough though, it may unravel further down the line. Like I said, this is a Goldilocks project – ‘just right’.

Tie a silicone strip in the first hole
Tie a silicone strip in the first hole
Tie a silicone strip in the second hole
Tie a silicone strip in the second hole
Continue to build up rows of strips knotted to the base
Continue to build up rows of strips knotted to the base

Knot a strip in each hole along the first row. If you want a very dense mat, you might want to consider adding knots perpendicular to these knots too – ie, knotting 2 strips in the same hole of the base mat.

Continue in the same way along the next row… and the next… and so on, until you have filled the mat base to the size you want.

The underside of the silicone snuffle mat as it is being made
The underside of the silicone snuffle mat as it is being made
The underside of the finished silicone snuffle mat
The underside of the finished silicone snuffle mat
The finished silicone snuffle mat
The finished silicone snuffle mat

Cut your base mat if necessary – you don’t need to fill all the holes! Your dog might not need a huge mat, for instance. The one you can see in this example is small – it measures just 8×5″ (20x13cm). Filling this size base mat with just one knot per hole took 2 silicone baking sheets that each measured 37x27cm. Bear in mind the larger you make the mat, the more silicone sheets you will need.

Snuffle mat for wet and raw food diets

Ideal food to put in a snuffle mat for raw diets

My dogs get both ready prepared 80-10-10 minces and home prepared meals. I have found that the sloppier minces DO NOT do well in this snuffle mat. The oily fish minces that we get are so loose that they would just slip through the base. Those kinds of loose minces are perfect for lickimats – get lots more ideas for lickimat toppings in this article.

The most suitable food for this silicone snuffle mat is chunky, so for instance throw in some chunkier 80-10-10 minces that have a little body to them, or chopped up bits of muscle or organ meat, or even small, complete body parts, such as chicken feet, rabbit organs, eyeballs (WHAAAAT????)… you get the idea.

Here’s a very short video of my gorgeous girl enjoying the snuffle mat. I DO NOT recommend that you put the snuffle mat on a carpet (DUH!), but my boy is a very elderly dobermann (coming up for his 13th birthday next month!) and I have had to put carpet and rugs everywhere to avoid him slipping on the ceramic floors. Hence the baking tray under the snuffle mat…

Cleaning the silicone snuffle mat

This is a low maintenance bit of kit! Since all the materials used are dishwasher-washable, the mat can simply be put in the dishwasher. However, I don’t wash it in the machine after every use. I always rinse it under hot water after each use, and I’ve found that rinsing it is often enough. I pop it in the machine every 3-4 uses.

rinse the silicone snuffle mat under hot water
Rinse the silicone snuffle mat under hot water
rinse the silicone snuffle mat, then pop it in the dishwasher
Pop it in the dishwasher

Lickimat -vs- snuffle mat experiment

I wanted to see how long it would take for my carnivores to devour a spoon of food from the lickimat compared to the snuffle mat. As a challenge, the snuffle mat wins hands down. It takes much longer for dogs to sniff out all those little bits of meat and it keeps them occupied for much longer.

snufflemat lickimat experiment
snuffle mat – vs – lickimat experiment

Free work enrichment

This snuffle mat is an excellent addition to free work enrichment activities. If you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at this article which explains how to get started with free work – it’s so easy, and apart from being great for your dog, it also gives you a chance to understand your dog better. Oh, plus it’s a perfect replacement for a walk on days that are too hot / cold / rainy to go out.

Conclusion

Snuffle mats are a great addition to any dog household. Dogs love – in fact need – to sniff (see this article for more on that). It’s hard for raw fed dogs to use traditional , fleece snuffle mats, as they would get disgustingly dirty straight away. This silicone snuffle mat though is an ideal, easy-to-clean solution.

Are you going to make one for your pooch? Let me know how it goes!

thumb image making a snuffle mat guide
The Ultimate Guide To Making Snuffle Mats
Snuffle mat for raw food diets
Snuffle mat for raw food diets
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