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What happens if dog licks neuter wound?

What Happens if my Dog Licks its Incision Site?

Dogs like to lick their body parts as a way of grooming or expressing themselves. They also tend to lick their wounds in an attempt to clean them. While their saliva has antibacterial properties, letting them lick or chew on a wound will do more harm than good. Fresh wounds from an injury or incision from procedures such as a TPLO surgery or spaying may get infected and take longer to heal. Keeping your dog from licking the fresh wound or incision site is vital for its proper health and recovery.

This blog will talk about the various reasons your dog licks its wounds, how you can prevent it, as well as other post-surgery care tips for your pet.

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Its Wound?

After your pet comes home from an operation and its anesthesia has worn off, your dog might be inclined to check out the incision site and start licking the area. For some, this is merely a response to pain or the curiosity of your pet. But if this behavior persists, it can worsen the condition of the incision site and impede its proper and speedy recovery. Below are some common reasons dogs tend to lick their wounds:

The incision site is itchy

Just like in humans, a stitch or fresh wound can become extremely itchy. Your pet may have the impulsive yearning to scratch, lick, or even nibble on its wounds. This is dangerous, as your dog might tear the stitches open or irritate the wound as it scrapes the healing scabs.

It’s your dog’s way of coping with the pain

For many dogs, licking is more of a natural urge to examine the area it might be feeling uncomfortable with. Additionally, licking results from your dog trying to alleviate and soothe the pain and swelling of its wounds as it recovers.

Boredom or restlessness

Other than pain or itch, your canine may lick its wound to fight off boredom and stress. For example, dogs that have a high level of anxiety after surgery may find themselves licking their wounds more frequently. This action might be relaxing to them or gives them a sense of gratification.

Is it Safe for my Dog to Lick its Surgical Incision?

Despite evidence suggesting that dog saliva does have some antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, licking is harmful to fresh incisions and recovering wounds and should be prevented.

Excessive licking can irritate the incision site causing inflammation, leading to further infection, and will even cause it to reopen. Licking and chewing on the wound will also tear the sutures and require you to visit the vet again to close it properly. Take note that closing reopened surgical incisions is more complicated than suturing during an operation.

Dogs that fixate on their wounds can worsen the condition of their injuries. They tend to be more focused on trying to lick and clean their wound while the closed incision site is still fresh due to the procedure. So the days right after an injury or surgery are the most vital time to prevent them from making their condition worse.

How Can I Prevent my Dog From Licking its Stitches?

Keeping the wounds of your dog clean and out of reach is vital if you want it to heal quickly and adequately.

Here are some tips to help you stop your dog from licking, chewing, and biting its incision wound from a procedure:

Use a Cone or E-collar

After surgery, most vets will place a cone on your dog to prevent it from licking the incision. A cone, officially known as an Elizabethan collar or E-collar, is usually made of plastic. It has a wide surface area that prevents your dog from reaching to lick or scratch its wound.

The cone is typically used for about one to four weeks, depending on what your vet recommends and your pet’s healing process.

However, using a cone can be harmful to your dog in the long run. These collars are generally uncomfortable. They also prevent your dog from eating, drinking, and moving about freely. While cones and collars are the conventional choice, they can do more harm than good in the recovery of your dog. Instead, you can use different alternatives to keep your dog from touching its incision site.

Bandages & Sleeves

One of the best alternatives that you can use over the cone-of-shame is a leg sleeve. Unlike the cone of shame, limb sleeves and bandages are safer, more comfortable, and less intrusive for your dog. They also allow your pet to move around normally as its incision site heals. The sleeves also protect the wound from dirt, moisture, licking, and biting so that the incision will close up properly. These specialized sleeves also do not hinder your dog as much as they recover, allowing them to enjoy basic activties as their wound heals.

Here at Lick Sleeve, we’ve produced the most comfortable, water-resistant, durable, and breathable sleeve on the market. If you need post surgical leg-coverage, we suggest you get fitted for one today!

Canine Clothes & Apparel

Another less intrusive option for preventing your dog from licking or biting its incision site is using a specialized shirt, recovery suit, compression onesie, or other similar clothing products. These outfits should cover the incision site properly so your dog will not be tempted to lick, scratch, or bite into it. Some brands have breathable fabric and helping keep your pet more cool and comfortable. Just make sure that they’re not too tight so that your dog can breathe comfortably.

Medication can help prevent his urge

If clothes, cones, and sleeves won’t do the trick, your vet can recommend anti-inflammatory medication to help your dog manage the pain from its wounds. Since licking and scratching can also be a response to pain, and these medications can greatly prevent your dog from getting its wound infected.

There are special strips that you can apply around the stitches that give off an off-putting flavor, which helps against licking.

Remember, keeping your dog from licking and biting at its incision site is vital if you want your pet to recover better.

Signs of Wound Healing in Dogs and Aftercare

Depending on your procedure, your dog may begin to regain some of its energy and start moving around normally within a few days or a few months. Here are some signs of a recovering wound in dogs:

  • Redness at the incision site begins to fade
  • Swelling at the incision site has gradually flattened
  • The edges of the wound will begin to close together
  • The color of his wound may lighten up

But if you notice any discharge at the incision site, such as a small amount of blood or pus-like fluid, call your veterinarian right away, as this can indicate a possible deeper infection.

Post-Surgery Incision Aftercare for Canines

To take better care of your dog after his operation, make sure to check his incision site daily and clean it by following your veterinarian’s instructions. More so, keep your dog confined, to prevent running, jumping, or playing with other dogs. Your veterinarian may give you special instructions about how long your dog should rest after surgery as well.

To learn more about how you can help take care of your dog and treat other conditions or injuries, explore the Lick Sleeve blog today.

How Do I Prevent Dog Wound Licking?

In the animal kingdom, it is instinctive for many animals to lick their wounds. Dog wound licking is very common, and while it may be intuitive, it can cause problems for the dog.

Although there are many myths about the instinctual reasoning behind the urge to lick wounds, including that a dog’s saliva has antibacterial or healing properties, wound licking can impede the healing process and even result in infection. It’s important to keep wounds clean, especially on emotional support animals, so they can get back to helping you live the best life possible.

How to Stop Dogs from Licking Wound After Neutering

To prevent your dog from licking their neutering wound, try using a combination of positive reinforcement training and physical barriers such as a cone or inflatable collar. You can also talk to your vet about using bitter sprays or medications to discourage licking.

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What are the Causes of Dog Wounds?

A dog’s wound may result from a surgical incision, injury, or a complication from simple skin irritation. Dogs often cause open wounds or sores from excessive biting, scratching, or licking of irritated areas. Dog wounds or sores that result from irritation are called «hot spots.»

A hot spot is a skin infection that happens quickly and is often caused by something that irritates the skin. It can be caused by inadequate grooming, fleas, mites, or other skin irritants. Licking and biting are frequent symptoms of hot spots and perpetuate a cycle, slowing down the healing process.

Whether a dog’s wound results from surgery, injury, or irritation, the most important thing to do once a wound has been stitched or bleeding staunched is to prevent infection. Specific prescription or over-the-counter medications may be necessary to reduce itching and avoid disease. Still, keeping the wound clean and preventing the dog from licking the injury is also essential.

If a bandage can be applied, it will help prevent the dog from licking or biting, but the odds are they will merely tear the bandage off.

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How Can I Prevent My Dog from Licking Its Wounds?

Dogs can be stubborn creatures, as well as creatures of habit. If something itches, they will scratch. If something irritates them, they will do what is necessary to relieve the irritation, and however, sometimes, their methods can lead to further irritation and symptoms.

Like there are ways to break habits, there are ways to stop or prevent your dog from licking its wounds.

Elizabethan Collar

An Elizabethan collar is one of the best ways to stop a dog from licking wounds. An Elizabethan collar, also known as an e-collar or dog cone, is a veterinarian apparatus worn around the dog’s neck and obstructs the head from reaching other parts of the body.

The e-collar looks like a high, wide collar with a satellite dish-like appearance. It acts as a barrier between the dog’s head and the rest of the body, preventing them from biting or licking. The wound is left to heal by avoiding dog wound licking without added moisture, irritation, and germs.

Veterinarians frequently recommend e-collars to prevent dog wound licking after surgeries such as spaying and neutering and after any procedure that may require stitches. Similarly, groomers and veterinarians recommend an e-collar when treating hot spots.

While these devices may be slightly annoying to the dog, significantly when sleeping or eating, they do not interfere with regular daily activities. Successful wound-licking prevention will aid healing and reduce the risk of costly and potentially dangerous infections.

Collars and cones are available at most pet supply stores and may also be available from your dog’s veterinarian.

Inflatable Collar

An inflatable collar is another excellent way to keep your emotional support animal from licking its wounds. Inflatable collars are a more comfortable alternative to standard hard plastic collars and are available at most online pet stores. Ensure to get an excellent fit for your dog so it is comfortable even when sleeping.

Be picky when choosing a collar model, as some models are easily punctured. Another challenge with an inflatable collar is that it does not suit long-nosed and thin-necked dogs. Consider using a non-inflatable collar in such cases, though this is not the most comfortable option.

Dog Clothing

An easy and effective method to stop your ESA dog from licking its wounds is by covering it with pet clothes or a well-fitted t-shirt. Other clothes are specifically designed to cover a dog’s wounds.

Using an old t-shirt can prevent dog wound licking and biting. Tying it around the dog’s wound, similar to a multi-tailed bandage or almost like a onesie for a human infant, is excellent for tiny dogs.

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Out of sight, out of mind. Bandaging is an efficient method of concealing wounds from a dog. If you don’t have a bandage, you can alternatively cover the injury with a cloth. Not only does bandaging prevent your dog from licking the wound, but it also keeps the wound clean, which promotes faster healing.

Remember, your dog requires oxygen and constant blood flow to heal its wounds. So, loosen the bandages! To do this, ensure the bandage and padding don’t have creases.

Consult your veterinarian on how often you should replace the bandages. In most cases, the recommended time for open wounds is two to three days. Also, see a vet if there is swelling or soreness, a stinky bandage, or if the area appears more irritated or to be bothering the dog more than before.


Dog boots are an excellent investment if you plan on taking your emotional support animal running or hiking. Boots may be worn alone or over a bandage or dressing. Get at least one size bigger if you plan to use it over a bandage.

You could also opt for a gaffer instead of duct tape to cover the bandages. Gaffer tape is handy since it’s easy to remove, although it does adhere poorly to dog skin or fur. Surgical tape is better because it is readily available. Although it occasionally sticks to fur or skin, you can easily unpeel it.

Anti-Lick Strips and Sprays

You can also use anti-lick strips and sprays to stop the dog from licking wounds. Choose sprays and strips made with natural materials to protect your pet from toxic substances. Certain substances may be harmful to your dog, and if they lick the wound after it is sprayed, they may ingest harmful toxins.

All-natural sprays work best, using essential oils and organic materials to prevent allergic or chemical reactions. Like any spray, it may sting or cause your dog to squirm, especially if the wound is open. Be wary of using sprays or strips on open wounds. It is best to wait until the injury is scabbed over before spraying.

If your ESA dog continues to lick wounds despite the unpleasant taste, you should consider other options, such as distraction techniques.

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What Distraction Techniques Can I Use to Prevent my Dog From Licking its Wounds?

Dogs are easy to distract with the proper object and method. When dogs are bored, they tend to find trouble, especially if they have an irritating wound making them feel itchy. You can utilize plenty of distraction methods to make your dog forget all about its wound.

Hugs and Treats

You’ll probably want to give your dog lots of hugs, belly rubs, and treats. Be sure to offer high praise and loving attention, especially if they are in pain.

Keep Them Active

The best way to prevent a dog from licking a wound is to keep its tongue and paws occupied.

For example, you can switch that bowl of food and opt to scatter the dog’s biscuits all around the house. By doing so, your dog will spend a significant amount of time finding the hidden biscuit, distracting it from licking its wounds.

You could also use plastic bottles with holes to feed the dog biscuits. This way, the dog lacks direct access to the biscuits and has to knock and kick the bottle. Ensure the bottle is solid enough to prevent the dog from breaking and ingesting it.

Mental Tricks

A better distraction is mental occupation, which is just as productive as the physical one. Teach your dog mental tricks that distract it from scratching its wounds.

You can use any of these methods individually or blend various protective measures. Keep in mind what works for one dog might not work for another. What helps a scratched paw heal quickly may not do the same for a surgical incision. You need to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen strategy regularly.

Consult a veterinarian if your pet continues to lick its wounds despite your efforts, as this may indicate that it is in pain.

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Final Thoughts

Nobody likes it when their beloved pooch is in pain or has a wound, but there are plenty of ways to help aid recovery while distracting your pup from worsening the wound. The myth that dogs’ saliva contains healing properties and bacteria can be a harmful thought, as they can potentially infect their wound and lead to further complications down the road.

Be sure to contact your vet for any concerns and how to properly bandage an animal wound, especially if it is a surgical incision.

Visit Pettable’s blog for more information on pet care and other helpful resources.

Meet the author:

Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

Signs of Infection After Spaying/Neutering Your Dog

Signs of Infection After Spaying/Neutering Your Dog

It’s a big decision to spay or neuter your dog and you might be worried about the complications that could come from it. Rest assured the odds of a complication are very minimal, but here our Mooresville vets discuss what you can expect from spaying/neutering your dog and the signs of complications or infection you should keep an eye out for.

What to Expect After Your Dog’s Procedure

Your dog will feel a little queasy or tired right after the procedure which is a normal effect of the anesthesia, your pup will also be given pain medications that will help alleviate the pain. Their appetite will also be reduced during the first 24 hours. Your dog will also have to wear a cone to keep them from licking at the incision site and you shouldn’t bathe them or allow them to swim for at least 10-14 days. It’s critical to keep the incision site dry until it heals.

It’s also essential to limit your dog’s activities and make sure they rest until they are recovered. Even if they try to run or jump, it doesn’t mean they are healing quicker, dogs don’t know that they need to rest so you will have to restrict their movements. Limiting your pup’s movements (no running or jumping) could include keeping them in their crate or a small room away from any excitement.

The procedure for spaying female dogs is also more complex than neutering male dogs, but their recovery time should be about the same which is approximately 10 — 14 days. It’s essential to keep their cone on, the incision site dry, and their activities limited until they make a full recovery.

Signs of Infection and Complications

Remember it’s very rare for there to be any complications following a spay/neuter procedure but, with every surgical procedure, there is some level of risk involved. This makes it very important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for post-operative care carefully. If you do not follow them you are putting your dog at risk for a longer recovery period and possibly other complications and infections. Some of the possible complications following a spay and neuter procedure include:

  • Infection
  • Anestetic complications
  • Self-inflicted complications
  • Poorly healed wound
  • Scrotal bruising/swelling in males
  • Incontinence problems
  • Hernias in females
  • Internal bleeding
  • Ovarian remnants in females

Below are the signs of infection and complications you need to keep your eye out for:

  • Lethargy for more than a couple of days
  • Refusal to eat more than a couple of meals
  • Signs of pain for longer than a week (shaking, hiding, drooling)
  • Acute redness, swelling or bruising at the incision site
  • Bleeding or pus from the incision site
  • Vomiting or diarrhea longer than 24 hours after the procedure (some immediately after can be normal as a result of anesthesia)
  • The incision site reopens
  • A bad smell coming from the incision site

Your vet will provide you with more information on what you can expect after the procedure including some minor swelling, lethargy, and vomiting immediately afterward. However, If you see any of the above signs of a complication in your dog it’s important to call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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