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How to Keep a Dog From Licking Stitches

By Corey M. Mackenzie
 

Overview

If your dog required stitches and will not quit licking them, chances are the wound will not heal quickly and may become infected. It is also possible the dog will lick or gnaw so much that the stitches actually get pulled or torn, opening the wound. You have a few tactics you can try that may prevent the licking. Some dogs will be more easily dissuaded from licking than other dogs, but don’t give up. Keep an eye on the wound, no matter which method you use, and contact your veterinarian if any sign of infection (swelling, redness, temperature, discharge) shows up.

Step 1

Try an anti-lick-and-chew bitter spray around (not on) the wound. Before you do this, however, talk to your veterinarian to make sure she thinks it is fine to use near the wound. Pet stores sell these non-toxic sprays, and one of these may be all you need to deter your dog from licking the area.

Step 2

Apply a sterile bandage over the stitches. Again, speak to your vet first. Some wounds will do fine if covered, but your veterinarian may recommend keeping stitches uncovered. If you use a sterile bandage, change it at least daily. As an added deterrent, you can spray a little bitter spray on top of the bandage.

Step 3

Use an Elizabethan collar, if all else fails. Most of these are plastic cones that fit around the dog’s neck and prevent it from licking most areas of his body. Your veterinarian may have some on hand, or you can ask about them at pet supply stores. Most animals that have to wear these aren’t very happy about it, but it is often necessary or the wound won’t get a respite from your dog’s tongue.
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