Does Dog Saliva Heal Wounds?

Dog saliva is often used on various wounds. The dog will instinctively lick his wounds, attempting to relive the pain. The saliva will form a film of coolness on top of the wound, numbing the area and reducing the pain. Also, the compounds in the dog saliva may facilitate the healing of the wound and neutralize certain bacteria, but on the other hand, the saliva may also contain various bacteria that can be harmful.

Benefits of Dog Saliva on Wounds

The dog and other animals tend to lick their wounds. This is done to alleviate the pain and to numb the area. This procedure is believed to be a type of self treatment or zoopharmacognosy.

The saliva is also thought to contain antibacterial microorganisms (i.e. nitrates) and various enzymes (i.e. lysozyme or lactoferrin) and antibodies that can speed up the recovery of the wound. The dog saliva is though to be effective in fighting bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus canis or E. coli.

The saliva may also contain certain antiviral agents such as thrombospondin.

Saliva should help healing wounds. This theory is also backed up by the fact that the oral mucosa heals faster than normal skin and this is attributed to the fact that it is always moist and full of saliva.

Dangers of Dog Saliva for Wounds

The dog saliva is believed to be beneficial both for dog wounds and human wounds. While, this belief has a gist of truth, it may also be wrong.

Dog saliva on wounds can cause a number of issues:

  • The bacteria in the saliva may infect the skin resulting in additional problems. The bacteria may not always be harmful for the wounds, but it is better to be cautious.
  • The excessive licking leads to the formation of acral lick granulomas and hair loss in patches
  • The dog may develop a obsessive compulsive behavior or licking, chewing and biting the wound

Licking in excess may ruin all the benefits the canine saliva has on the wounds.

How to Deal with Wounds

The wounds dogs get may be simple scratches or more serious injuries. If the wound looks superficial, you may apply at home treatment. If you notice the wound is deep or you suspect something is wrong, you need to visit the vet.

If the wound is bleeding, you will need compresses to stop the bleeding.

Wounds should be cleaned with an antibacterial soap or hydroxide peroxide. Get some over the counter antiseptic ointments or antibiotic cream and apply it on the wound.

To be safe, you should bandage the wound. Even if the saliva is considered benefic, it may also have negative effects, which can lead to complications.

Dogs may be bothered by the bandages, so if they are accessible to the dog, these will be chewed off. To prevent this, you can get an Elisabethan collar, which will keep the dog away from the wounds.