As avid dog lovers, we have probably seen our canine companions get a scratch or a graze at some point in their lives. Whether it was a result of rough play, or simply a stick in the wrong place at the wrong time, our active dogs are bound to get a small cut at some stage.
When they do, we may be aware of their tendency to constantly lick at their wounds. But is this a good thing or not? According to research, the answer is both yes and no! Dogs tend to lick their wounds because it promotes healing by the body and provides a sense of relief in the area. It is an instinctive behavior for any dog, as their mouths are the only tool they have to clean a wound if they were in the wild.
Interestingly, the saliva of a dog contains a healing protein called tissue factor which promotes blood clotting. Dogs also have a natural pain killer in their saliva called opiorphin which explains the licking, doesn’t it! These properties are definitely beneficial to small cuts and grazes, but when it comes to big wounds it is a different story. Because our canine companion’s mouths are also full of bacteria, over-licking can lead to further infection.
The repetitive motion of licking can also cause a breakdown of the healing tissue which hinders the healing process. This is also true for surgical sites. When your dog repeatedly licks stitches that are closing a wound, the motion and saliva can cause the suture material to break down and the chances of infection are very high. In conclusion, if your loving dog has a small graze or cut, licking will do the wound well. When it comes to large wounds and surgical sites, rather keep it closed as per instruction from your vet.
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