If one of your pooches gets hurt, the other may start licking its injured area. If you have seen this happen, you may have asked yourself Why does my dog lick my other dog’s wounds? Such behavior may be due to:
- Plain instinct
- Sympathy for the other dog
- The taste or smell of an ointment or a topical medication
Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dog’s Wounds?
Have you noticed how much dogs enjoy licking anything from their paws to the carpet? My doggie, for instance, loves to slurp my face to give me a “kiss.” Still, what if you see your furry friend licking the scrapes of some other member of your four-legged pack? That can make you wonder Why does my dog lick my other dog’s wounds?
Today, I will outline the possible reasons behind this dog behavior. Also, I will discuss the benefits it offers and the risks it hides.
So, Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dog’s Wounds?
Usually, the wound licking behavior does not suggest anything out of the ordinary. For the most part, it is even quite natural. Still, in some cases, it can turn into a problem for both of your dogs. To prevent that from happening, you first need to learn the cause behind the licking.
Licking wounds is an instinct that many mammals, including dogs, have. It is common for animals like cats, primates, and rodents to lick their injuries. Sometimes, they can even lick the scrapes and cuts of other animal species. This instinct reduces the risk of infection as it helps mammals keep their open wounds clean.
So, don’t be surprised if you see that your pooch is licking the injuries of one of its furry friends. Your dog is wired to help other members of its pack. From my experience, I know that doggies can also lick the wounds of their owners for that same reason.
A Sign of Sympathy
Like barking, licking is a type of behavior that canines use to communicate with each other. Therefore, it is part of the doggy vocabulary. Sometimes, dogs use wound licking to express sympathy for a pup that is hurting. It’s almost as if your pooch is telling its friend, ‘Everything is going to be okay!’
If you catch your dog licking the injury of your other pooch, observe how far this behavior goes. For example, see if the licking is too persistent. In some instances, doggies may also try to lick random items around them, such as rugs or furniture. Any of these signs may suggest that your pup has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Typically, the causes behind canine OCD are either genetic or stress-induced. Now, there are different methods you can use to reduce obsessive licking, including training. However, I’d recommend that you first discuss the situation with a vet. If the condition is severe, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to your pup.
Ointment or Topical Medication
Many first-aid ointments and topical medications for dogs contain sulfur, which kills bacteria when used for the treatment of open wounds. What’s more, it helps the pooch’s skin heal quickly.
Unfortunately, sulphur-based lotions have a terrible smell that can (and probably will) stink up your house. While you may find this odor to be repulsive, your doggies won’t mind it at all. Dogs love potent aromas, including those that are unpleasant. Moreover, the more stinky the ointment is, the more your furry friend will be attracted to it.
So, If you use a smelly topical medication to treat a dog injury, your pooch may try to lick it off. Such a behavior is simply in dogs’ nature.
Is Wound Licking Beneficial or Harmful?
Dog saliva has some healing properties because it contains enzymes that can:
- Relieve pain
- Kill bacteria
- Keep the wound clean
Also, the rough tongues of pooches can remove debris and even damaged tissue. As a result, the licking behavior can speed up the healing process.
However, wound licking could be more harmful than beneficial because the saliva of dogs also contains a lot of harmful bacteria. If you combine that with the rough texture of canine tongues, you get a recipe for problems such as:
- Wound reopening
- Tissue damage
- Lick granuloma
Finally, excessive wound licking can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder in the dog that is trying to heal its furry buddy. So, you must end this behavior because it bears risk for both doggies.
How to Stop the Wound Licking Behavior
Every time I’ve asked myself Why does my dog lick my other dog’s wounds?, I’ve also wondered how to stop this behavior. There are many dog products, such as Elizabethan collars, that prevent pooches from touching their injuries. Yet, these solutions are useless if the dog is licking the sores of another pup. Therefore, to put an end to this behavior, you may need to get creative.
I have found that there are four great tricks you can use to solve the problem. They are not only simple but also quite effective.
Supervise the Dogs
You can control excessive wound licking by keeping an eye on your dogs. When the behavior starts, encourage the licking doggie to do a trained command such as ‘Go settle.’ Also, you can try distracting the pup by giving it a treat. Avoid punishing the dog because that will only encourage it to lick its friend when you are not around.
Use a Muzzle
Another way to stop your doggy from licking its friend’s wounds is by putting a muzzle on its mouth. However, be careful about the type of dog muzzle you are using. Some of these products can do more harm than good.
For example, if your pooch has OCD, a loose type of muzzle will prevent it from licking another dog. However, it won’t stop it from persistently licking its nose.
Personally, I have noticed that anti-licking mesh masks offer the best results. They are snug around the pup’s mouth to prevent all forms of licking. Best of all, they are comfortable to wear because of the breathable, soft materials they’re made of.
Cover the Wound
Use this method only if the veterinarian has told you to keep the wound of your dog covered. Otherwise, you may slow down the healing process if you wrap the scrape.
By covering the wound with a bandage, you will discourage the other pooch from licking it. You can also protect the injured area by wrapping it with a piece of clothing or a bandana. Still, make sure you pick a material that is fluff-free to prevent fibers from sticking to the wound.
Separate the Dogs
If you can, keep the pups in two different parts of your house. If your home is small, you can place the injured doggie in a crate. Keep it there at night, and while you are at work until the injury heals.
As I mentioned, there are several possible answers to the question Why does my dog lick my other dog’s wounds? Wound licking is an instinct of many mammals, and doggies are not an exception.
However, despite the healing properties of saliva, you must not encourage the licking behavior. Try stopping it because it can lead to various complications that may be harmful to both your dogs.