May 20, 2022

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Why do dogs lick their wounds? Science explains it

The saliva of many animals has soothing and healing qualities, although it is safer for pet dogs and cats to go to the vet

  • Many animals lick their wounds by natural instinct
  • Numerous studies have confirmed that the saliva of some animals, including humans, has antibacterial properties and promotes tissue growth, accelerating the healing of skin lesions.
  • Licking the wound removes debris such as dirt or loose pieces of skin and helps relieve pain
  • However, this practice can also cause harm to animals. For this reason, dogs and cats returning to the vet wear a plastic collar
  • Although wound licking is not a 100% effective wound healing system, natural selection left this instinct for animals without alternatives, it is still better than nothing.

The saying “lick the wound” indicates a situation in which a person tries to console himself and recover from pain or failure, from an intangible wound. The saying goes back to the instinct of dogs that use saliva to heal injuries, and it has some benefits.

Useful properties of saliva

But why do animals, both domestic and wild, apply their saliva? scratches And wounds? The answer lies largely in the self-soothing property of licking and its healing abilities saliva. “Wound licking is an innate response, sharpened by natural selection, that can relieve irritation and pain and can help wounds heal faster.said Dr. Benjamin Hart, a retired veterinarian and professor emeritus at the University of California.

In studies on this topic, Hart and other scientists have shown that the saliva of some animals, including humans, has Antibacterial properties It promotes tissue re-growth and accelerates healing. For example, dog saliva is effective in killing bacteria Escherichia coli and here streptococcus canis, A form of bacteria that mainly infects animals. A 2018 study compared saliva from dogs and humans, and found more proteins that promote cell growth than previously. Similar agents are also found in human saliva but in very small amounts.

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Negatives

Licking the wound removes debris such as dirt or loose pieces of skin and helps soothe the wound acheDr. Kristi Flynn, veterinarian and animal behavior expert at the University of Minnesota added. “It is the instinct of someone who rubs his feet after hitting his arm or squeezes it after burning it.

When animals feel pain, instinct prompts them to try to calm the affected area. However, in the age of modern medicine, for both pets and humans, licking wounds can do more harm than good, which is why cats and dogs return to the vet with the plastic collar. Licking the surgical wound can damage or pull the sutures and can turn a small lesion into a large lesion.Flynn said. “Dogs are prone to constant licking and this can prevent wounds from healing“.

Licking on wounds can also lead to infection, as saliva does not have fully antibacterial properties. He’s actually found out that it doesn’t kill him staphA type of bacteria found in wounds that causes infections.

Read also: The ancient Egyptians put moldy bread on wounds, for this reason

Although natural selection is not a 100% efficient system, this instinct is left behind because for wild animals that have no alternatives, they are still better than nothing. For pets, rather than having other systems available, it is better to turn to and rely on your vet.