Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds

Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds


“Should I let my dog lick his wounds?”

“Why does dog lick the wounds?”

“Is it ok for dogs to lick their own wounds?”

“Can a dog’s saliva heal his wounds?”

A vet is usually stormed with such questions on dog licking wounds from pet parents. Well, if recently, you have found your dog licking that open sore constantly or scratching it continuously, you must be wondering what’s making your pet lick his own wound when it can be itchy or painful.

In their wilderness, licking was the only medicine that dog knew that could heal their wounds. No doubt, dog saliva is comparatively cleaner than human saliva, and full of enzymes rich in healing properties. On the first basis, licking removes the debris that might be on the wound and after that licking works as the cleansing process removing the infectious matter that might surround the wound. The bacteria in their saliva are not always bad, in fact they are helpful in recovering. Added to this, dog licking also triggers blood circulation towards the wound and some other healing effects.

There are number of reasons why licking wounds is desirable and good for your four-legged companion.

Moderate Wound Licking  

Dog’s saliva is rich in numerous healing properties. The enzymes in dog saliva aid in destroying different dangerous bacteria. The saliva also has other anti-bacterial components such as lactoferrain as well as anti-viral ingredients.

When a dog licks his wound, it delivers protease inhibitors and growth factors, which promote natural wound healing. Moreover, the component Opiorphin present in the saliva is a pain reliever. At last, on touching the skin, the nitrate compounds present in the skin are converted into Nitric oxide, inhibiting bacterial growth and promoting healing.

Too Much is Too Bad

For small wounds, licking is ok for your furry pal. But, do remember after surgery, licking is not a good option especially if there are stitches and you are thinking that it would help the wound to heal.

Too much licking leads to skin problems, which may come up later on. Over-licking can open the closed wound or the fur starts thinning in that area. This also causes a skin problem called lick granuloma, which seems small but turn out to be a big problem by over-licking.

Saliva is not free from pathogens. These harmful bacteria present in saliva can breed on a wound due to over licking. This has to be considered in case the wound is due to incision or any large wound or if the wound is taking long time to heal.

When your pooch is suffering from such wound, take care that you cover the wound properly or spray bitterent on the site to discourage your pet from licking. Certain dog wound care products have bittering agent that keeps away pooches from self-mutilation through licking.

Helping Wound Heal

If your pet is suffering from any serious wound or recovering post surgery wound, take proper advice from your vet about the treatment you can provide to your furry pal. Proper medication along with dressing can help your pooch to recover faster and avoid him from over licking.

Little licking for little wounds is a trivial matter but when it comes for severe or big wounds, you need to be active and provide the best treatment. If the wound is not recovering, check with your vet.


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