Vet applying bandage to white dog's paw

How to Stop a Dog Licking a Wound?

It can be difficult for dog parents to see their canine friends with an injury, especially if they’re experiencing pain, discomfort or restlessness because of it. It’s even more difficult when trying to stop a dog from licking their wound, although it's entirely natural. Your dog may try to lick their wound as an instinctive way to soothe the soreness - similar to how humans rub part of their body when they’ve knocked it against something. However, some people believe that canine saliva has antibacterial properties that can help disinfect wounds, but it actually contains a lot of other bacteria that can infect the wound and lead to a longer healing time.

This is why it’s important that dog parents learn how to stop their dog from licking a wound. Your dog’s wound needs to be protected in order to properly heal and avoid any contamination. In this article, we advise on how to stop a dog from licking a wound, what the risks of excessive licking are, and how you can take proactive measures to promote a faster recovery time. By following our advice, you can help your dog feel like themselves again sooner rather than later.

How do you stop a dog from licking a wound without a cone?

You can stop a dog from licking a wound or stitches without using a cone by using an inflatable collar, compression sleeve, recovery suit or bandages to cover the wound. Distraction can also stop dogs from licking their wounds, so engage your dog in mental stimulation through training and toys.

Will a wound heal if a dog keeps licking it?

It’s still possible for a wound to heal even if a dog keeps licking it, however, it’s likely to take longer and the overall quality of healing may be affected. There are also certain risks if your dog is excessively licking their wound, such as increased chance of infection.

If your dog is licking to clean themselves, as social grooming or a sign of affection, this behaviour is considered normal. It’s also normal for your dog to instinctively lick their wounds in order to keep them clean, and in moderate amounts, this is unlikely to do much harm. However, if your dog is obsessively licking their wound, it can increase the risk of infection and lead to a longer recovery time. It may also indicate that your dog is experiencing pain and discomfort.

You should always consult a veterinarian if your dog has an injury, and consider using appropriate methods to stop your dog from licking their wound, such as the ones listed here. On the other hand, if your dog is itching and scratching, there may be something else going on.

What are the risks of letting a dog lick a wound?

It’s important to stop a dog from licking their wound as there are various possible risks that may occur otherwise. Since a dog’s mouth contains various bacteria, if a dog is licking their wounds, it’s possible for them to transfer bacteria into the open wound. This can lead to secondary infections, cause other health complications, and hinder the healing process. Dogs can also delay their healing if they remove the scab by excessively licking their wound. The rough texture of their tongue can further irritate the wound and cause inflammation too. If you notice any changes to your dog’s wound, such as redness, swelling or discharge, and your dog still seems to be in pain, consult a veterinary expert for an appointment.

How can I prevent my dog from licking a wound?

Here are some practical methods to stop a dog from licking a wound.

  1. Use an Elizabethan Collar

    Elizabethan collars, also known as E-collars, are an effective way to stop your dog from licking their wound. This cone collar fits around your dog’s neck, and dog parents should make sure it’s long enough to come up to your dog’s nose, in order to effectively prevent them from reaching the wound with their mouth. You may be able to use a fabric or inflatable collar instead, and your veterinarian can advise on or supply the appropriate collar for your dog’s size.

  2. Cover the wound

    You can also use other accessories to keep your dog from licking stitches, without a cone. This could be a recovery suit, compression sleeve or protective bandages. These accessories are effective at preventing your dog from rubbing, biting or licking their wound, as long as you make sure it fits and covers the wound properly. Some dogs may prefer this to an E-collar as these accessories will be softer and provide more range of motion.

  3. Topical ointment

    There are some commercial products that act as a deterrent to stop your dog licking their wounds as they have a bitter taste. By lightly spraying onto the outer surface of the bandage covering the wound, it could help stop your dog from removing the dressing. You should always follow the product’s instructions for safe use.

  4. Offer interactive or puzzle toys

    Toys are a great way to redirect and stop your dog from licking a wound. Not only are puzzle toys great for your dog’s mental stimulation, but it will keep their mouth occupied elsewhere instead of obsessively licking their wound.

  5. Focus on training

    Depending on your dog’s injury, they may not be able to engage in as much physical exercise and play whilst they’re healing. Instead, dog parents can teach their dogs tricks through clicker training. This will help redirect your dog’s attention by helping them focus on the task rather than their pain.

  6. Use food puzzle toys

    Food puzzle toys are a great way to distract your dog and keep them entertained while their body heals from an injury. Dogs may obsessively lick their wound if they’re feeling bored, so by providing mental stimulation with a food puzzle toy, you can help stop your dog from licking their wound.

  7. Consult with a veterinarian

    If you find that your dog continues to lick their wound even with the above measures, you may want to consult a veterinarian for advice and to check your dog’s injury. It could be that the wound is infected, or that it’s causing too much discomfort for your dog to bear. In either case, they may be able to prescribe medication. 

How to promote wound healing in dogs?

The key to supporting the healing process of a dog’s injury is to stop a dog from licking the wound. This will help prevent bacteria from a dog’s mouth from contaminating the injury, as well as ensuring the protective scabs or stitches stay in place. Your veterinarian can advise you on proper wound care. It’s likely they will ask you to gently clean the wound every few days using a mild antiseptic solution. If your dog has bandages, it’s important that you don’t get it dirty and wet. Speak to your veterinarian about whether or not to bathe your dog. The veterinarian will also let you know how often to change the dressings.

In some cases, your dog may be prescribed treatments to promote wound healing. This may include antibiotics to prevent or treat infection, as well as pain medication to ease your dog’s discomfort. It’s important that dog parents use these as advised to help the wound heal and ensure your dog is comfortable in the process.

Besides this, dog parents can promote wound healing in their dog by providing a clean, safe and soothing environment for their dog. If your dog is highly active, refrain from engaging in vigorous exercise as your dog recovers from their injury. Instead, you can provide mental stimulation for your dog through training and food puzzle toys. Make sure to give your dog lots of cuddles to help them feel better.

How can I soothe my dog's discomfort and stop it from licking its wounds?

Before trying any home remedies to soothe your dog’s discomfort, you should first consult a veterinary expert to assess the wound and provide professional guidance, treatment and medications. If your vet does prescribe any topical creams, ointments, medications and supplements, it’s important to follow the instructions for these carefully to support your dog’s healing process and help reduce discomfort, itching and pain.

 You can also stop your dog from licking its wounds by using an E-collar, fabric or inflatable collars, or other accessories such as recovery suits, compression sleeves or bandages to cover the wounds. Another way to soothe your dog’s discomfort is to apply a cool compress to their wound and reduce their inflammation.

While it can be challenging to stop your dog from licking a wound, it is essential for their healing. You can further support your dog’s health in other ways by offering high-quality food such as James Wellbeloved™ Dog Food , specially formulated to deliver all of the essential nutrients your dog needs in the right amounts and ratios. With a complete and balanced diet tailored for your dog’s age, size and health, as well as a variety of flavours, not only will your dog enjoy their meals - but it will support their bodily functions, immune system and overall health.