Should You Let a Dog Lick His Wound?

Should You Let a Dog Lick His Wound?

Last update: 04 June, 2018

Dogs and other animals tend to repeatedly lick wounds to alleviate their pain or itching. However, should people let their dog lick his wounds? 

A topic science hasn’t solved

As it often happens in almost all cases, scientists can’t reach an agreement on this matter. Nothing is completely certain. What seems to be an indisputable truth today can become considered obsolete tomorrow.

So, today we can point out that although it has been proven that dogs’ saliva has some healing properties and there are bacteria that can cause infections on wounds. Therefore, for the time being, it’s better to not allow your dog to lick his wounds and for you to take him to the veterinarian to receive medical attention.

One question without a clear answer is whether you should let a dog lick his wound. Currently, it seems that despite there are some beneficial substances in a dog’s saliva, there is a risk of infection due to the presence of harmful microorganisms.

Pros and cons of letting a dog lick his wound

A chemical analysis of canine saliva shows that it contains antimicrobial and antifungal proteins. That’s why it helps heal various injuries and reduce scars. However, there are other germs in saliva that run the risk of making the situation worse. Especially if the wound is very big or deep.

In addition, if the wound is always moist due to constant licking, it’s likely that it will take longer to close. The dogs could also lick themselves compulsively, hurting themselves even more.

How to treat a dog’s wound

If your dog’s wound is superficial, you can treat it yourself by following instructions advised by a professional. They will tell you the what antiseptic would be appropriate for your dog’s skin, and if necessary, what type of medication and the proper dosage to give him.

However, if the wound is deep or you notice other signs, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. 

No matter what, since you shouldn’t let a dog lick his wound, you should cover it with a bandage or gauze. From there, you should monitor the animal to make sure he doesn’t remove it. If he does, you will need to use an Elizabethan collar.

Information about dogs’ saliva

According to recent research, a dog’s saliva strengthens the immune system of the people that live with him. For example, it can help prevent allergies in humans.

In Colombia, an undergraduate thesis from the University of Santander, Cucuta, determined that saliva inhibits the growth of some bacteria that are also good for the healing.

Additionally, a study conducted by the University of Arizona indicated that the microbes in a dog’s stomach would have a probiotic effect on the human body. This benefit would be transmitted through a dog’s saliva and would strengthen your bacterial flora.

For now, don’t let your dog lick his wounds

In summary, nobody can dispute the fact that a dog’s saliva has antibacterial properties. However, nobody says that it doesn’t also have some properties that are not completely harmful.

For those reasons, it’s a good idea not to let your dog lick his own wounds and the wounds of other dogs and people, especially when it comes to children.

Even if nature is wise and you believe a dog licking himself is an instinct for him to heal himself, then that means you can also say that he does it because it’s the only “tool” available for him to alleviate his discomfort or pain.

Stay tuned on My Animals because we will keep you updated on any new developments that come up in the field of scientific research.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.