Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds and How to Stop It
Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds?
Wound licking is an instinctive behavior for dogs and many other animals, like cats, primates, horses sheep and rodents. For dogs and other animals, the only remedy or source or health care they have is their mouths.
The enzymes in dog saliva help destroy the cell walls of dangerous bacteria. Lactoferrin and other antibacterial and anti-viral compounds can also be found in saliva.
Licking a wound delivers protease inhibitors, and growth factors, which promote wound healing. However, too much licking can be a bad thing. Licking is not encouraged following surgery, especially if stitches are used (dogs will try to bit or pull the stitches out). If a wound begins to reopen or the fur starts to thin in that area too much licking is happening.
So technically yes, dog saliva contains some healing properties but not all bacteria in dog saliva are beneficial, and sometimes harmful pathogens colonize a wound as a result of licking. This is usually only a concern if there is a surgical wound or other very large wounds, or if there is a wound that hasn't healed in a normal amount of time.
Treating Dog Wounds
For smaller cuts and abrasions, wash the area gently with soapy water, thoroughly rinse it and pat it dry. You can use a non-toxic antibacterial ointment to promote healing. Generally, for smaller wounds a little licking is ok, but if you notice the area getting larger, still looking wet after a few days or the hair around the area thinning contact your vet.
For larger cuts or open wounds, you should always take your dog to vet. There your vet can ensure your dog gets the proper care for their specific wound type.
With your vet’s okay, Vetericyn Plus is an excellent vet-recommended antibacterial gel that’s safe if licked or ingested. It’s also useful for relieving hot spots and irritated, itchy skin due to allergies
How To Get A Dog To Stop Licking A Wound
There are lots of different methods to help stop your dog from over licking their wounds, here are a few of our favorites.
Liquid Bandage Spray
For smaller cuts and abrasions you can first try using a liquid bandage spray like this Remedy+ Liquid Bandage Spray This spray quickly covers the wound and dries fast. It becomes a waterproof covering keeping the would clean and dry promoting faster healing.
If your dog’s wound is on her torso, i.e., a spaying or neutering incision, abdominal surgery, etc., a great option is a Recovery Shirt also called a doggy onesie, like this Recovery Suit for dogs. Not only do recovery shirts protect wounds from licking and chewing, but they also help keep them free from dirt and debris and from getting wet. As a bonus, these suits are also used to ease your dog’s anxiety.
As a final option, many vets recommend using an E-collar (often referred to as a cone) to help restrict your dog’s access to her wounds. The Comfy Collar is a comfortable, foam-backed alternative to hard, plastic cones. It comes in 9 sizes and has velcro closures for a perfect fit. It’s also water-resistant and easy to clean.
We hope you have found this article helpful for you and your pet. If you have please share with a friend.
- Oct 01, 2019
- in Pet Blog