It is usual for dogs to zoom around playing fetch carefree. While they are naturally agile, they sometimes miscalculate their steps and stumble over things. Since they often wander the streets and run around with other dogs, it makes them prone to wounds and injuries.
When your dog gets injured or undergoes surgery, the first thing you’ll notice is that they have a natural tendency to lick the affected area. But it is not in the best interest of your pet to encourage this behavior.
While canine saliva can slightly help with disinfecting wounds, it is more likely they will contaminate the injury rather than help it heal faster. Allowing them to bite or lick their wounds continuously can cause different kinds of infections that can result in more health complications.
Dogs instinctively lick their wounds as a way of grooming themselves. But their mouths carry a lot of bacteria, both good and bad. Vets will often prescribe E-collars or protective dog leg sleeves for dogs that recently underwent surgery. These protective devices will prevent your pet from licking, scratching, or biting its wounds.
In any situation, if your pet has a serious wound, you should always contact your veterinarian. Do not use these suggestions as a treatment plan for diagnosing your pet yourself.
How to Keep My Dog From Licking a Wound
Whether it’s a minor or severe case, keeping your dog from licking its wound is essential in helping it heal faster, and while one product may help your pet, no product is perfect for every pet, some may need two or more options to help them comfortably and smoothly. Below are some tips on how to keep dogs from licking their wounds.
Cover the Wound
With the recommendation of your vet, you might try using specialized recovery bodysuits, sleeves, or socks to cover your dog’s stitches. Secure the fabric with medical tape, but don’t apply it directly to prevent it from sticking to the fur.
Give Your Dog Something to Chew On
To keep your dog’s attention away from its wound, try distracting your pet by giving it rubber balls or other toys to nibble at. If your dog needs to remain confined, make sure they are not chasing or getting rough with these toys. Redirect its focus by playing or handing snacks for your dog to follow. This will keep your pup from scratching its itchy wound.
Teach Tricks and Offer Treats as Tasty Rewards
If your dog just got out of surgery, do not engage it in physical activities. Instead of playing fetch, you can try clicker training instead. Once your dog gets the hang of it, offer tasty treats as a reward for good behavior.
Accessories to Help Prevent Wound Licking
To keep your pooch from accessing its wound, you can put on garments and accessories to safely cover the affected site. Compression sleeves, collars, or onesies can prevent your pet from licking topical ointments, biting or rubbing the wound, and pulling off the dressing on the surgical site.
Identify the size of your dog to make sure that the protective garment or collar fits perfectly. It should be comfortable to wear, so your dog can move freely. Also, identify the wound’s location, so the accessory will effectively block your pooch from reaching the injury.
Here are a few accessories you can try to cover your dog’s wound:
Leg sleeves or compression sleeves are made of breathable fabric and cover the incision site on one of the limbs of your dog. Unlike compression onesies and recovery suits, they only partially cover your canine’s legs. Leg sleeves are less bulky and are made of breathable fabric, so your dog can move freely and comfortably, while protecting the treatment area from licking, scratching, mud, and direct contact with contaminants. In fact Lick Sleeve produces the very best sleeve available on the market today. If you’re dog has wounds or sutures on the front or hind limbs, we suggest you check out a Lick Sleeve for the right fit today!
Elizabethan Collar (E-collar)
Also known as the plastic cone collar, the E-collar is the most common recovery accessory for injured pets. E-collars have a fabric alternative that is softer and more flexible and comfortable than the traditional plastic cone collars.
While veterinarians often recommend E-collars for dogs after surgery, it may also negatively affect their behavior. Wearing a collar can frighten your pet, which pushes it to bang into objects. To help your dog get used to wearing the E-collar, keep it in a confined space and train it to avoid hitting chairs, tables, or any household obstacle.
Since E-collars can be stiff and heavy, you can use an inflatable collar as an alternative. Unlike plastic cone collars, inflatable ones are soft and lightweight.
Neck Brace Collar
For dogs with neck injuries, you can opt for a neck brace collar. These soft-padded collars are designed to prevent your pet from bending or moving its head around too much. If properly fitted, it will only allow for lateral head rotation. Like inflatable and E-collars, a neck brace collar will try to prevent your dog from tearing surgical stitches as well.
Protective Bandages and Dog Boots
For toe wounds, your vet may cover the area with bandages and boots to keep dirt and other contaminants from entering the affected site or infecting the wound. Gauze and vet-wrap are the best bandages to apply and unpeel from a wound.
Some options for covering the toes might be to let your dog wear protective dog boots to keep the area from the toes to the hock clean and dry. Some boots also add traction indoors and protect the feet of your dog from heat and other harmful surfaces.
Recovery Suits or Post-Surgical Garments
If you’re looking for safer alternatives to collars and full-body bandages, you can try recovery suits to cover your pup’s whole body. Recovery suits are soft, durable, and 100% made of cotton. Unlike collars, post-surgical garments have Velcro tabs to cover behind the ears.
Ensure a Smooth Recovery for Your Dog
Dogs commonly lick their wounds to soothe pain caused by injuries. But excessive licking will irritate and infect the wound and surrounding tissues. Treatment plans will be covered by your veterinarian and aftercare treatment is necessary to avoid further complications and help your dog recover better.
For more information on how to take care of your injured dog, visit the Lick Sleeve blog today.