Dog Saliva Really Does Have Antibiotic Properties!
People often ask about dogs licking their wounds, and whether that promotes healing or gets in the way of proper healing. There’s nothing quite so pitiful as an injured dog wearing one of those big conical collars to prevent them from doing what they most want to do by nature – lick their wounds.
And while it’s certainly good to keep your pet from licking freshly stitched cuts (he might pull out stitches and end up with a bigger, uglier scar), once the stitches have been in place for a few days and begin to dissolve or are very soon to be removed, letting the dog go ahead and lick may even promote healing.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s true that dog saliva has antibiotic properties. Specifically, dog saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that lyses and destroys harmful bacteria. This means the enzyme attaches to the bacterial cell wall – particularly gram-positive bacteria – and weakens it, leading to rupture.
The second reason is direct stimulation of the tissues and small blood vessels surrounding the wound site. This helps to increase blood flow and promote the growth of new capillaries, while the blood brings white cells, platelets, growth factors and other of the body’s natural healing agents to the wound site.
So if your dog has an injury or undergoes an operation, ask your vet when it will be safe to allow the dog to lick the wound. Generally the vet will have administered antibiotic drugs, so infection of the wound site usually isn’t a big concern.