Last Updated on January, 2023
Your dog keeps licking its wound; now what? It’s an instinct for dogs to lick an injury if it irritates them. It’s like scratching for humans, and they can’t control it. But the saliva that dogs produce contains some antibacterial properties that keep harmful bacteria from infecting the wound area, which is not the case for most dogs.
Licking causes more pain and infection, which is more harmful than beneficial. In case of surgery and the wound needs to be kept sterile and untouched, a dog licking it would likely open the injury or cause severe pain and infection.
Of course, you want total recovery of your dog, which is why vets recommend six techniques discussed here.
Here are the 3 key points from this article:
- It’s common for dogs to lick their wounds, but it can cause more pain and infection.
- There are six techniques to stop your dog from licking a wound: bandaging the wound, keeping your dog busy, putting on dog boots, wearing a surgical recovery suit, dressing your dog in t-shirts or men’s boxers, or applying anti-itch products.
- Monitor your dog’s recovery by keeping the bleeding under control, consulting a veterinarian about the wound, maintaining the wound’s cleanliness, and inspecting for infection.
TLDR: There are six main techniques you can use to stop your dog from licking its wounds: bandaging the wound, keeping your dog busy, putting on dog boots, wearing a surgical recovery suit, dressing your dog in t-shirts and men’s boxers, and applying anti-itch products. You should choose the technique that is best suited for your dog based on its individual needs.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Dogs Lick Their Wounds?
- Risks Of Letting Your Dog Lick Its Wounds
- 6 Easy Techniques to Stop Your Dog From Licking a Wound Without a Collar
- How to Choose the Right Technique For Your Dog?
- Monitor Your Dog’s Recovery
- Final Thoughts
- Does Saliva Have Any Healing Properties?
- Are Anti-Itch Products Safe For Dogs?
- How Can You Tell If Your Dog’s Wound Is Infected From Licking?
- When Can I Remove The Anti-Lick Device?
- How do you stop a dog from licking without a cone?
- What can you put on a dog’s wound to stop licking?
- How do you cover a wound on a dog?
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Wounds?
Well, when your dog is injured or has gone through major or minor surgery, you would see some licking. Licking reduces the pain or irritation and clears any discharge from the wound or incision.
It’s common for the wound to attract flies or other insects, this causes the wound to itch, or if the wound gets a little too hot, the dog will try to lick it and keep it cool, but licking is a common instinct for all dogs, this helps the dog to keep the wound from being infected by harmful bacteria.
Still, at the same time, over licking can, and will, cause the wound to open even more, which leaves it open for infection, more pain, and irritation. Which hinders your dog’s ability to heal the wound, and the medication used will probably be ineffective once your dog has licked it away.
Apart from licking, you may notice your dog chewing on the wound, mainly due to irritation of the itchy sensation in and around the wounded area.
Risks Of Letting Your Dog Lick Its Wounds
Even though licking can sustain the harm done by bacteria to a certain limited extent, it does have severe drawbacks to the healing process of the wound. Excessive licking will cause a great deal of pain, as the injury will slowly open up and be as if it is a breeding ground for every bacterium that passes by.
Even a small wound or a rash can infect a much larger area, resulting in more costly methods to reduce the infection. Sometimes it may even lead to possible amputation, which means the exact thing you try so hard to prevent will get worse even more if you let your dog lick the wound excessively.
The forcible removal of sutures destroying healthy tissue and reopening the injury will take you to the veterinarian more times than you would want to. Hence the reason why you would end up spending additional money and time to heal the wound.
Recommended to read: Why My Dog Nose is Warm & Dry?
6 Easy Techniques to Stop Your Dog From Licking a Wound Without a Collar
1. Bandage The Wound
Wrapping a cloth around the area of the surgery or the area infected wouldn’t necessarily keep your dog from scratching the heck out of it. Give it twenty minutes, and you’ll find the bandage lying on the ground on your back porch or the kitchen floor.
But getting the wound a bandage is the least you could do to keep your dog from making a mess of the sutures or the injury. However, wounds do require a free flow of oxygen to heal. Therefore, as you wrap the wound tightly, ensure that it’s not too tight, as it will restrict the blood flow and the oxygen flow to the wound.
2. Keep Your Injured Dog Busy
Here are some techniques to distract your dog from licking its wound.
Exercise For the Mind
Keep your injured dog’s mind busy by hiding treats and teaching tricks.
- Hide Treats
Hiding treats in random places will be an exciting act for your dog as well as for its mental wellbeing, developing its sight-smell coordination. However, as Vets recommend, please don’t overdo it. If your dog gets used to treats, it will most likely be an uninteresting method of distraction in the future. (1)
- Teach Tricks
Teaching tricks is an excellent method as it helps dogs develop and keep them from digging into their wounds. Even so, sometimes, teaching tricks may be a little challenging. So try adding a few treats once your dog seems to show improvement.
Give It a Toy
You can find toys in any store or pet shop, and they come in all possible kinds and sizes, and the best part is, dogs like them. So, while your dog is busy munching down one toy for the house on end, you are giving that wound extra time to heal, letting the dog recover and get him back on his feet.
Giving your dog treats and feeding it at a slow pace may seem the same. Except they are two different things. By providing it slowly, you will be distracting it from licking its wounds, but the dog would not reach a stage of oversight because you won’t be using more food. It’s just that you will have to break the regular meal into portions, yet again, giving the dog time to heal.
Comfort Your Dog
Commonly known as petting or grooming the dog, keeping your dog occupied with constant attention will draw its attention from the wound and licking it, yet again, giving it time to heal. (2)
Play With It!
Yet again, giving constant attention to your dog will help in many ways, mainly with providing the wound some extra time to heal, as well as the bond you will have between you and your dog. While playing with your dog, you can show your dog a few tricks, developing its mental capacity.
3. Put On Dog Boots
Boots are pretty simple to put on and take off, making them an excellent option when covering the wounds or sutures on your dog’s legs or paws. As you may have already guessed, boots might not be the best answer for the wounds found on your dog’s belly or back; nevertheless, the best part of this is that you can make boots even at home.
You don’t necessarily have to buy a boot for your dog’s wounds. But do keep in mind that if the boot is too tight, just like a bandage, it will restrict the blood flow and the oxygen flow into the wound. Nonetheless, boots keep your dog from licking the living tissues out of it.
4. Wear a Surgical Recovery Suit
Surgical recovery suits come in many sizes, fitting your dog perfectly. The material most surgical suits are made of allows your dog to heal quickly by ensuring a constant airflow into the wound and a smooth flow of blood in and out of the affected area. It can also prevent the wound from overheating while keeping it safe from harmful bacteria and keeps your dog from licking the wounds and opening up as real estate for mites and bacteria.
Beware, there are different brands of suits in stores and pet shops, so be extremely cautious when buying a suit for your dog. Some suits made of certain materials may be uncomfortable for your dog.
5. Dress Your Dog In T-Shirts And Men’s Boxers
By all means, if you are unable to afford a surgical suit for your dog, you can always find a use for those old t-shirts that you have been keeping in your attic or basement. Because that will always do the trick, even a pair of men’s boxers will do the trick when it comes to covering up the wounds, sutures, or infectious rashes near a dog’s legs, tail, rump, or genital area.
If you find the wound on the abdominal area, go for that old t-shirt, as it will be an excellent protection layer over the wound, keeping your dog from licking it. However, be mindful about the material you give your dog to wear. Some may turn out to be itchy.
6. Apply Anti-Itch Products
You can find all sorts of anti-itch products in pet shops or stores. Most of these sprays are flavored with dog-friendly products that range from bitter apple to sour cream, which will discourage your dog from licking them. Still, it’s dog-friendly; therefore, the best option is natural products.
Yet leading vets recommend you use a prescribed spray or paste because though most anti-itch products seem cheap, they might be harmful to your dog, some may be allergic to the chemicals inside. Still, some major brands that work may be costly, so whatever you choose, make sure you have a vet’s recommendation and the excellent brand in mind that will keep your dog from licking that wound.
How to Choose the Right Technique For Your Dog?
Know your dog and know the nature of the wound by consulting a Vet. It’s easier to have an expert opinion before jumping to conclusions. Having an expert opinion will help avoid putting your dog and the money you spend on treating the wound or surgery at risk.
However, we recommend you start small with the treats and have the sprays on hold, as your dog will quickly get distracted and go for the wound once things get boring. Keep the dog occupied and keep it distracted from the injury as much as you can.
Monitor Your Dog’s Recovery
Preventing your dog from licking its wound is alone not sufficient for a speedy recovery. Monitor your dog’s wound to help cure the wound. Here are four practical ways to a speedy recovery!
1. Keep the Bleeding Under Control
As with any first-aid treatment, make sure you and your pet are both safe. First and foremost, if your dog is bleeding, stop the bleeding! (3)
Learn about the many forms of bleeding and how to bandage a wound. Arterial, Venous, and Internal bleeding are the three forms of bleeding.
An arterial bleed is a bright crimson and frothy clot discharged from the heart under pressure. An animal suffering from an arterial bleed might quickly lose a lot of blood and go into shock. It’s critical to apply force quickly to halt the bleeding.
Venous blood is darker than arterial blood, and it flows instead of spurting. It’s more manageable than arterial bleeding.
Reassure the injured animal and use a clean, non-fluffy cloth to provide direct pressure to the wound. Do not use Tourniquets because direct pressure will typically halt the most severe bleeding.
Internal bleeding ensues when a dog is harmed internally, and there is no visible exterior wound. This form of bleeding is far more challenging to detect and treat. Internal bleeding has several indications and symptoms. Few of them are cold, restlessness, gums turning pale, fast heartbeat, shallow breathing, little or no urine, becoming lethargic and floppy, and blood coming from any of their orifices.
2. Consult A Veterinarian About The Wound
If you observe any symptoms of infection, such as redness, pain, a thick discharge, or your dog has a fever, consult a veterinarian. In more severe circumstances, if you can’t convince your dog to stop licking the wound incessantly, you may need to see a veterinarian who can prescribe medication to help the dog stop his compulsive behavior.
3. Maintain The Wound’s Cleanliness
Use warm tap water to clean most wounds. Warm saline (salt solution) is another option. To make this, combine two cups (500 mL) of water with one level teaspoonful (5 mL) of salt (or Epsom salts). To help remove debris, your veterinarian may recommend using a dilute chlorhexidine cleansing solution, surgical soap, or an iodine solution.
Unless your veterinarian expressly instructs you to do so, DO NOT clean an open wound with soaps, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, herbal preparations, tea tree oil, or any other product. Some of these products are harmful when taken internally, while others might postpone healing.
4. Inspect For Infection
Always keep an eye on your pet using any of the above devices, especially socks, T-shirts, and other fabrics. Suppose evidence of chewing appears on these barriers; you should consider moving to a different method since a determined dog may chew and eat the barrier, resulting in an intestinal foreign body and needing surgery.
It’s critical to keep your dog from licking his wound for his health and healing. This phase can be painless and straightforward if you know what to do and how to accomplish it. As a result, you can keep your dog away from the wound by trying the techniques mentioned earlier.
It is suggested that you test a few different methods before settling on the most effective and convenient for your dog. When you’ve found out what works best for your dog, you’ll know what to do if your dog gets hurt or needs surgery.
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