It’s not uncommon to find dogs with wounds, no matter the nature of the wounds, most dogs are prone to licking them. You probably have heard people say that licking wounds will help the wound heal faster. Well, there are undoubtedly a few potential benefits to wound licking but bear in mind that the risks involved outweigh these benefits.
This article ‘why do dogs lick their wound’ will give an insight into some reasons why dogs pick interest in licking their wounds, and some other things you need to know.
The dog’s Saliva
The dog’s saliva contains some antibacterial and anti-viral compounds such as lactoferrin. Licking produces growth factor and protease inhibitors that help promote the healing process of wounds. The dog’s saliva contains analgesic such as Opiorphin which serve as a pain reliever. The dog’s saliva also contains nitrate compounds that break down into nitric oxide which inhibits the growth of bacteria and promotes healing.
Why do dogs lick their wound?
Licking of wounds by dogs can be compared to humans rubbing their wounds for comfort. As earlier emphasized, licking of wounds may be helpful to a degree as it helps soothe the pain and provide some level of comfort. It has also been proven that dog saliva contains a little amount of bacteria-killing properties and is very effective against bacteria like Escherichia coli and Streptococcus canis.
When dogs lick their wound, it overstimulates the brain and that helps to temporarily numb the pain.
Unlike human saliva which is filled with loads of bacteria, a dog’s saliva is relatively clean and contains some helpful enzymes that can help in the healing process of the wound. While the first few licks of a wound help remove unwanted debris, further licking can continue to clean away bacteria matter from the outside world from entering the wound. The licking of wounds may be helpful in small amounts and for small wounds such as scrapes and cuts.
Also, there are many other bacteria that can start to overgrow in the wound as a result of excessive licking. You can spot this when the skin gets raw and does not heal after a few days. Once a wound begins to get worse, we strongly advise you to seek the services of a veterinarian.
When does licking become too much?
Licking may look all safe, helpful and all but when it becomes excessive, it can lead to some major risks.
Over-licking can slow down the wound-healing process and cause infections. Bacterias such as Pasteurella when introduced to an open wound can cause serious infections. Licking can also cause irritation as well as damage to the tissue surrounding the wound area and cause a considerable delay in the healing time of the wound.
Over-licking can also lead to some other problems like granuloma which can progress to something more complicated.
Licking after surgeries can be quite devastating as aggressive licking as a result of the itchiness of the stitches can break down the sutures. Since most surgery wounds are large and deep, the chances of infection are usually large, hence, licking should be curtailed as much as possible.
How to Identify An Infected Wound
If you notice any of these signs of infection, contact your veterinarian right away:
- Thick or colored discharge
- Reopening of the wound
- A wound that is taking a long time to heal or not healing at all
How to Stop
Dogs can cause serious harm to themselves through over licking and to prevent this, there are a number of things you can do to prevent it. They include;
- Dog Clothing
- Soft Cone (Elizabethan Collar)
- Inflatable Pet Collar
- Recovery Suits
- Wound Dressings
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