Although it is your dog’s natural reaction to lick their wound, it is something you should try to prevent in order to keep your pet happy and healthy. In the wild dogs would have spent their time guarding themselves against other predators and hunting their prey for food. They had to spend their days working and struggling to survive. However, dogs in the modern world are much more likely to spend their day enjoying some air conditioning, a slobber rope, and some delicious treats. Since dogs have so much more idle time living at home with their human families, they have much more time to spend licking their wounds than they would have in the wild.
You’ll actually want to prevent your dog from spending all day licking their wound though. Since your dog can spend so much extra time licking their wounds than they naturally would, it is actually possible that all the friction caused by their tongue can outright irritate the wound. This can not only exacerbate the injury, it can also be expensive. If your dog has had any recent surgeries or injuries, it's likely that they received a set of stitches. When dogs can lick their wound aggressively and frequently, they can pull those stitches out. This can of course irritate the wound, but it is also something you will need to have fixed by another pricey visit to a veterinarian. So why should you even want to make your dog stop licking their wound and how should you go about it? Find out below
Whenever a dog is wounded or injured, it is their natural tendency to lick their wound. The same way you might rub the top of your head after you hit it off a cabinet door in your kitchen or yell out a curse word when you stub your little toe walking to the bathroom in the shadows of the night.
In the wild, there is a natural benefit for dogs that lick their wounds because their saliva has an antibacterial element. Canine saliva actually has mildly sanitizing effects for dogs. The dogs that would lick their wounds after an injury were more likely to survive and reproduce because of the microbial effects of their saliva.
So now after thousands and thousands of years your pet has evolved to want to lick their wounds because their ancestors had to in order to survive. The dogs that didn’t sanitize their wounds wouldn’t survive their injuries due to infections. However, in the modern world we have much more effective and sanitary antibacterial solutions available for your pet so their natural tendency to lick their wound is no longer serving a benefit. But to be honest they're just dogs, and they don’t know any better.
The most common way to stop your pup from licking its wound is to get a cone. A lot of the time your vet will provide you with a cone any time there are surgeries or stitches involved with the treatment. However, many dogs find cones uncomfortable to wear. They can make it difficult for them to eat and for them to lay down and get comfortable when it is time to go to sleep. Luckily, there are many remedies at home that can be used in place of a hard plastic cone to prevent your pet from licking its wounds.
You can find many alternatives to the heavy plastic cones that are often provided by vets at many stores online or at pet stores in the real world. These are often much more gentle for the dog. Since they are made from a softer material they make it easier for your dog to find comfortable ways to eat or sleep.
You can also find inflatable collars that fit around your dog's neck to keep them from licking at their wound. In the same way you can purchase small fabric “boots” that fasten around your dog's paws to keep them from licking at it. Additionally, if you have a short hair dog and put any type of sweater or clothing on them in the fall and winter, then you can use their clothing if the wound is somewhere the cloth covers up.
If you don’t have any store bought alternative cones or collars at your disposal, or if you don’t have any clothing that came pre-made for your dog, don’t worry. There are plenty of available solutions that can be made from items found in anybody's home that can stop your dog from licking their wound(s). For instance, you can make a tube of fabric that will fit over your dog's body. This can be made from any kind of stretchy fabric that will fit over your dog's wound. Leggings and t-shirts often work the best to make something that will cover the chest or torso of your dog. However, for a wound on a leg, paw, or tail, a cloth glove or children’s sock can be used to make an appropriate sized covering. Just slide the glove or sock over the wound and attach some fasteners that will keep it in place. However, make sure to sanitize your dog's wound before you apply any kind of homemade covering. But don’t worry this can be done right at home with common household items.
If you don’t wish to sacrifice a piece of your clothing for your fuzzy friend, then you can use a variety of items that are used in first-aid boxes or medicine cabinets. The same way a human injury can be wrapped with a cloth bandage, so can a dog’s. Simply wrap the wound with the bandage and put some fasteners on and your puppy won’t be able to get their tongue through to the wound. Similarly, non-adhesive medical wrap can be used in the same way as a cloth bandage. These are particularly helpful in covering your dog’s paw since they can stretch and wrap closely around with cutting off blood flow.
Although it is your puppy pal’s natural instinct to want to lick their wounds, it is healthier, and cheaper to prevent them from tearing out stitches or opening up injuries. So whenever your canine companion is hurt make sure you sanitize and cover their wounds!
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