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Why do dogs lick wounds?

(March 26, 2010)

A dog licks its wounds because this is an instinctive behavioral trait. However, the dog’s body is designed in such a way that licking the wounds actually has a positive effect on the recovery of the wound.

There are, however, several skin conditions that are aggravated by the dog licking it. In this situation, the veterinarian might make the dog wear a special device on its collar which prevents it from licking the area behind the head its torso. While a dog will be uncomfortable with such a device, it may be necessary for its own benefit.

When a dog licks its wounds it has two main functions. The first function is that of the dog’s tongue. A dog’s tongue tends to be mildly abrasive and this means that it will remove the top layer over a wound. This top layer may contain dirt or loose skin particles that need to be removed in order for the wound to heal properly and in a healthy fashion. This is why one might see a dog continuously licking its wounds. This is an effort to keep the wounded area clean.

The other function of a dog licking its wounds is that of the saliva. The saliva, like human saliva, contains some enzymes that contain antibacterial agents. It keeps the dog’s mouth clean and infection free during normal day to day activities and while eating, it provides a liquid which allows the dog to digest its food effectively and it has an antiseptic effect when applied to external injuries.

When you have a dog with an injury, it is essential that you also pay attention to the injury and monitor its status. When your dog’s injury does not appear to be healing naturally it is time for you to step in. You may examine the dog’s injury thoroughly. The dog might have a foreign object such as a splinter in its wound. Remove this object carefully to help your dog recover from the injury. The dog’s tongue is not effective at removing such kind of embedded material.

It may also be possible that your dog has an infected wound. This occurs when the wound is extremely large or the anti-bacterial properties of the dog’s saliva are not strong enough to prevent the wound from getting infected. An infected wound is likely to lead to complications and must be dealt with, medically, as soon as possible.

Submitted by A on March 26, 2010 at 01:25


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