Cats and Dogs
Article Rating
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

Do dog licks heal human wounds?

Why do Dogs Lick Their Wounds, and is it Safe?

a brown dog with a long coat licking its face

It is common for dogs to lick a wound that they get, which can become a problem after they have done so for an extended period of time, or they get carried away doing so. In this article, we will discuss why dogs lick their wounds, and how to prevent it if it gets to the point where it is harming them rather than helping them. Read on if you are curious about the antibacterial nature of dog saliva, and how to best help your dog when they are in need. This article will cover the following:

  • Why do dogs lick their wounds?
  • Is it safe?
  • How to prevent too much licking of the wounds

Why do dogs lick their wounds?

While some licking is normal and even helpful, too much can turn into harmful territory

A dog’s only real form of helping a wound heal or to provide some comfort to the area is to lick it. Compared to human saliva, which is full of bacteria, dog saliva is relatively clean and full of helpful enzymes that promote healing. While the first few licks of a wound help clean out any unwanted debris, additional licking can continue to clean and prevent any additional infectious matter from the outside world from entering the wound. This is usually the case for small wounds, such as cuts or scrapes. If a wound seems to be getting worse from the licking, seek attention from a veterinarian.

The dog’s licking of its wound can be helpful if it is in small amounts and seems to be helping with the progression of the healing process. Otherwise, it may get to the point where the licking is causing more harm than good. This can be spotted if the skin is raw and is not healing after a few days. If you can see the skin through the fur, that is another sign that it is not healing properly.

English foxhound sitting and licking its nose

Is licking a wound safe for the dog to do?

It may be safe at first, even helpful in the healing process, but then may digress into unhelpful patterns

At first, licking can not only be safe, but it can be helpful in the healing process. The enzymes in the dog saliva actually help destroy the cell walls of harmful bacteria. The saliva also contains lactoferrin and other antibacterial and antiviral compounds. To promote healing of the wound, the saliva adds protease inhibitors and growth factors. Opiorphin is one substance that is a pain reliever. In addition, it stimulates blood flow and other healing properties. When nitrate compounds in the saliva meet the skin, they break down into nitric oxide, which inhibits bacterial growth and promotes healing. All in all, this initial licking is safe if done in moderate amounts.

Once your dog has been licking the wound for a substantial amount of time, that is when you should start to get wary and possibly think about trying to get it to stop. This may be if the wound doesn’t seem to be healing and the licking has become excessive. The licking can lead to additional problems, like a lick granuloma, which starts as a small problem but can become a major one. Another reason you should be wary of your dog licking its wound is if stitches are involved. If that is the case, you should help your dog to avoid licking the area altogether to make sure the stitches do not get pulled out.

If a closed wound reopens, or the area in question starts to have the fur thin out, then it gets to the point where the licking is not safe anymore. While much of the saliva is beneficial, not all of the bacteria is. So proceed with caution. That is to say, beware of harmful pathogens that colonize in a wound as a result of licking. It is best to be overly cautious when it is a surgical wound or a very large wound, or if it is a wound that hasn’t healed in a normal amount of time.

Two dogs curled up on top of a blanket

How to prevent your dog from licking its wound too much

This can include tending to the wounded area, or taking preventative measures

The main ways to prevent your dog from licking its wound too much, or at all for that matter, are to bandage the wound, spray bitters on the area to make it less appealing for your dog, or to use an e-collar (sometimes referred to as the cone of shame). On the other hand, it may be more beneficial to allow your dog some time to clean its wound and try to let it heal naturally. Then, when it seems as though the wound is not healing, you can implement these measures.

To restrict your dog’s access to its wound, you can use a variety of methods. This can include different types of collars that prevent the dog from licking its wound. Additionally, bandages, boots, and tapes can help your dog avoid licking its wound. A combination of the two often works out well, with the bandage or the like protecting the injured area and then the collar preventing the dog from messing with it.

In times of injury, a dog may want to lick its wound to help it heal. While this can be effective at first, too much licking can only lead to negatives, so make sure you take preventative steps to avoid these problems.

Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds? Is Dog Saliva Really Healing?

Why do dogs lick wounds written beside a black lab with tongue out

We all know how much dogs love licking, whether it’s their paws or their owners’ faces, but you may be surprised to hear how much they like to lick wounds too – both theirs and human!

There’s lots of legend surrounding the healing powers of dog saliva, but plenty of drawbacks too.

So why do dogs lick wounds? Is it healing in any way? Or is this something that should really be discouraged and prevented?

Why do Dogs Lick Their Own Wounds?

After injuring themselves, the first thing a dog looks to do is comfort themselves from the pain – and licking is just the way to do it.

Just as humans rub their head after knocking it, dogs will lick because the physical action helps to block the feeling of pain and releases a mild dose of feel-good serotonin.

Dog saliva also contains anti-bacterial properties and tissue factor; the former of which will help clean the wound and the latter will encourage blood clotting, setting them on the path to healing.

This video tells us about the natural response of why animals like to lick their wounds:

Why do dogs lick wounds? Is their saliva really healing? Why do they lick our wounds and is it safe? Find out this and more in our discussion.

Top Picks For Our Dogs

    We Like:Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs — Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like:Bones & Chews Bully Sticks — All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like:Crazy Dog Train Me Treats — One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
    We Like:The Farmer’s Dog — A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.

For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the blog.

Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds? Is Dog Saliva Really Healing? was last modified: October 14th, 2019 by LTHQ

1 comment

Annoymous July 19, 2018 at 2:10 am

I loved this article! Me and my mother used the information we and in your article we found out that opiorphin relieves pain and that lactoferrin is antibacterial. Both of those healing properties are in canine saliva. We looked up what lactoferrin is and we learned that it’s a protein with a pain killing affect. And opiorphin is found in all mammals and the saliva of dogs AND it has been proven to have a pain killier. The only difference between lactoferrin and opiorphin is that opiorphin has more affect than lactoferrin.

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Link to main publication