We all know dogs lick different things, from our faces, a spilled drink on the floor, and everything in between. But what about a wound? If you have multiple dogs in the household, chances are eventually one of them will have an injury.
Whether the lesion was from horseplay with each other or they got in a fight with the neighborhood cat, it’s bound to happen. You may have already discovered that a dog can tend to lick your other dog’s wounds. But why? This helpful guide will provide everything you need to know about this common question.
Why does my dog lick my other dog’s wounds?
You certainly don’t need to be a dog expert to realize they are curious animals with many learned behaviors. Licking another dog’s wounds is an instinctual behavior, whether they’ve had a wound themselves or it was picked up by having another animal do it to them.
While it seems out of the ordinary to humans, it’s second nature to dogs. If you think about dogs’ inherited response, their mothers have protected them since they were born. Any nick or abrasion would have been attended to immediately.
Dogs have that knack of responding directly to other dog’s wounds, almost as if they are the mother that’s attending to puppies. It’s a way to “hold each other in check” and establish comfort with one another.
Why Do Dogs Like The Taste Of Blood?
A dog can have smell up to 10,000 times more than humans. Blood has a distinctive, pungent aroma. As a pet owner, you have to remember that even the cutest dogs are natural scavengers. That blood taste reminds them of meat or protein.
They are attracted to that smell. And even if they weren’t, their curiosity would get the best of them! When it comes to licking stuff that doesn’t seem pleasant, a dog has no limitations. Their sense of smell is far superior, but they can only taste about 1/6 as good as humans.
Is it OK for my dog to lick my other dog’s wounds?
As with any behavior, we want to investigate the positive and negative effects. A dog that licks another’s wound can provide some benefits. First, wounds are notorious for picking up dirt and debris from the surrounding environment.
Any tiny molecule of dirt that ends up inside the cut can slow down the healing process or even damage tissues. Licking the wound can help remove harmful debris and provide the opportunity for quicker healing.
Secondly, you may not realize it, but there is additional damaged or dead skin underneath the wound. If you were to bring the dog to the veterinarian, the process is called debridement. While it’s ideally better to get the dog to a professional for treatment, a dog has a muscular tongue suited to remove dead skin effectively.
Another potential benefit is a dog’s saliva contains a natural painkiller that can provide temporary relief for your other dog. In addition, there is also additional evidence that suggests saliva can help develop healthy tissues. Finally, dog saliva can help fight against other harmful bacteria.
Are There Problems Caused When My Dock Licks My Other Dog’s Wounds?
While there are certainly some benefits to your dog licking another’s wounds, it also has some potential risks. The most significant risk is developing an infection.
A dog’s saliva isn’t sterile because it has natural bacteria in the mouth along with anything else they may have licked or eaten (i.e., raw meat). In addition, licking another dog’s wound can potentially cause an infection because the skin is broken.
Another issue that can commonly happen is the breakdown of newly healed tissue around the wound. Even if you’ve taken your pet to the vet, they will still need additional time to let the skin around the wound heal itself. Another dog that is constantly licking the area can compromise the ability to heal correctly.
The bottom line is that a dog licking another dog’s wounds isn’t particularly good or bad, but pet owners should use their judgment accordingly. If your dog is licking a tiny cut on your other pet’s body, you don’t need to overreact right away, but it’s essential to pay attention to how often this behavior occurs.
Always have a first-aid kit on hand and contact a veterinarian if the wound worsens. However, a surgical wound is a different story. Licking such a wound can re-open any stitches and lead to severe infections quickly.
How to get my dog to stop licking my other dog’s wounds?
It is quite challenging to get a dog to stop licking another dog’s wounds, but there are actionable steps to take, especially if it’s an ongoing concern. After all, it can sometimes take up to four weeks or longer for a wound to heal.
One of the first things you can try is to bandage the wound, but it needs to be done correctly. While it seems easy enough, you’ll have to ensure that the bandage isn’t too loose or tightly wrapped. Of course, you want to prevent any licking, but you also want your dog to be comfortable.
As you carefully press the bandage against the wound, make sure it doesn’t have any wrinkles. Using bandages can help the wound heal faster, but you’ll also need to change them every 1-2 days, so it can get a little expensive, especially if you have to do it for a month.
You can also ask your veterinarian to provide you with an anti-lick spray to put on the wound. If the other dog inadvertently licks the wound, it will taste unpleasant. This typically works, but there could be times when the dog still wants to lick even with it applied.
Another option (similar to bandaging) is having the dog wear protective clothing that appropriately covers the wound. Some ideas can include a clean t-shirt, a bandana, or even socks free from any lint. Again, check with your vet beforehand, or you may want to consider a special garment that’s used after surgery.
Finally, but not to be overrated, is the art of distraction. Engaged dogs are far less likely to want to lick their counterpart’s wounds if they are busy doing something. Hidden treats inside a toy work well because a dog won’t stop until it’s gotten the well-deserved reward.
Even an old-fashioned belly rub does the trick. What dog doesn’t love a little extra attention? Even if you have to have separate rooms for your pets to play in, it’s only temporary until one of them has the time needed to heal.