Is it OK to let dog lick wound?

Answered by Frank Schwing

As an AI language model, I can provide you with a detailed answer to the question: Is it OK to let a dog lick a wound? While it may seem harmless or even beneficial for a dog to lick its wounds, there are several reasons why it is generally not recommended.

1. Bacteria and Infection: While a dog’s saliva does contain some antimicrobial properties that can help fight certain bacteria, it also harbors a wide range of other bacteria that could potentially cause infection. Dogs explore the world with their mouths, so their saliva can contain bacteria from various sources, such as dirt, feces, or even their own mouths. Allowing a dog to lick a wound increases the risk of introducing harmful bacteria into the wound, which can lead to infection.

2. Slowing Healing Process: Excessive licking and chewing can hinder the healing process by reopening wounds or causing further damage to the affected area. The mechanical action of licking can remove newly formed tissues, delay the formation of a scab, and prevent proper wound closure. This can prolong the healing time and increase the risk of complications.

3. Irritation and Self-Mutilation: Dogs have rough tongues, and constant licking can cause irritation and inflammation around the wound, making it more painful and difficult to heal. In some cases, dogs may become obsessed with licking a particular area, leading to the development of hot spots. These are painful, moist, and infected patches of skin that require veterinary attention. Excessive licking can also escalate to self-mutilation, where the dog causes further harm to itself by biting or scratching the area.

4. Foreign Object Ingestion: If there is a wound, there may be loose or damaged tissue that could be tempting for a dog to chew off. Ingesting such tissue can lead to gastrointestinal obstructions or other digestive issues, requiring medical intervention.

5. Behavioral Reinforcement: Allowing a dog to lick wounds can reinforce the behavior, making it more difficult to discourage in the future. This can be problematic, especially if the dog has a tendency to lick excessively or has difficulty healing wounds due to underlying health conditions.

While a dog’s saliva does have some antimicrobial properties, the risks of letting a dog lick wounds outweigh the potential benefits. Excessive licking can introduce bacteria, slow healing, cause irritation, and even lead to self-mutilation. It is generally recommended to prevent a dog from licking wounds and consult with a veterinarian for appropriate wound care and treatment options.

Please note that this information is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog has a wound or injury, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.