Licking Wounds: Dog Saliva as Antibiotic?

February 26th, 2008 by Aileen

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.

37 Responses to “Licking Wounds: Dog Saliva as Antibiotic?”

  1. Lauralye Says:

    I was so happy when I came across your site. My 6year old Shih-Tzu was hit by a van.Thank goodness there wasn’t any broken bones, but his right leg got pretty messed up,with quite a few cuts but no stitches.The second day he was allowed to come home from the hospital.So I let him lick his sore leg,I felt with him licking the leg he was also massaging the muscle.
    The following day he had to go to the vet for check on his progress. The doctor was really impressed on how good the leg looked in just one day,the he told me not to let him lick his leg,cause it wasn’t sanitary,and to wear one of those collars. Now today I fell my dog’s leg is not doing as well,he is favoring it too much.
    After I read your artical I feel much better with allowing him to lick. Thanks

  2. andrea Says:

    the truth is that i used this experiment in my school’s science fair i didn’t know if it was real but when i proved it shows that dog saliva kill bacteria!!! my friends where buthering me because they tell me that i foun a new antibiotic

  3. Andrew Says:

    THanks for the info I’m am doing this same experiment. I will publish the results later THanks

  4. How to Get Six Pack Fast Says:

    Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Furl telling that the info is quite decent. Thanks.

  5. Frances Says:

    This article is a great help so far. Pippi was attacked by a German shepherd, which resulted in several puncture wounds and lacertations. She had surgery and stayed in the hospital that night.

    She’s been truly miserable since this happened. Her stitches are to be removed in a couple of days. Because she seemed so withdrawn and depressed that we decided to take the damned collar off. We were hesitant, but did it.

    Then we came upon this article…luckily. Feels like we have a little “permission slip” to try this. So far, and it’s only been a few hours, she’s been licking the one wound that was left unstitched. A scab had formed, and once Pippi began to lick the area, the scab is gone. There isn’t any bleeding.

    My prayer is that the saliva truly has anibiotic properties (she had been on amoxycillan for about 8 days). I guess we’ll know soon enough.

    Thanks for the article.

  6. John Says:

    Dog’s mouths are cleaner than a human’s.

  7. ztilep Says:

    the fact that the dog is dog their saliva is good only for dogs and not for me or to human being. i don’t believe if dogs’ saliva is applicable to human being as far as the hygiene is concerned!!!

  8. ActualMedicalKnowledge Says:

    Dog’s mouths STILL contain bacteria and can cause infection – specifically genus Pasteurella, do not do this. Thank you.

  9. Susan Says:

    My dog was retrieving her ball in the woods, ran into a branch and ripped a huge section of her underside skin off. She has drainage tubes that are supposed to be cleaned and the skin is supposed to be kept clean too with a wet cotton ball. I’ve fought her for a day to keep the cone on and put her in a t-shirt as the vet suggested to keep the skin/bed/house from the drainage. Miserable. Today I decided to watch her closely that she didn’t pull the tubes out and let her lick. It seems only logical that it would stimulate the draining, and do my cleaning job too! I am a little concerned about the strain on the stitches cause she has a ton, but she has shown no sign of wanting to pull the tubes and it’s much cleaner than I was keeping it.

  10. zigzagger Says:

    i dont know if dogs mouths are cleaner then ours but i want to do a experiment on it, it sounds so cool and i would really liek to know

  11. kelsie Says:

    that is so cooooooool. I am doing a science fair project to see if dog saliva kills germ or heel wound

  12. maria Says:

    im doing a science fair experiment on it also! so far its working

  13. kelsie Says:

    this is a good tool for my science fair.

  14. Kristen Says:

    Idid this as a science fair project before and proved dog saliva does kill bacteria!!

  15. kristen Says:

    how did you prove it ???

  16. Lauren Says:

    I have to say I agree with dog saliva on humans. We had fleas in our home (from our cute dog) and they bit me more than anyone else in the house. I had many bites on my feet and shins! My dog began to lick these flea bites and within a couple days they were healed. Been a believer ever since!! Yes, we had to have an exterminator come, we had to get him dipped but since he started the mess, he helped fix it too!

  17. dave Says:

    cut my lip last night deep cut . my wenner dog went crazy just wanted to lick my up this am the cut was closed .

  18. Janeen Says:

    @Dave: I had a paper cut on my lip my Lab licked it and it was better in a day. My daughter fell off her bike and scraped her knee after 3 days of peroxide and band aids we decided to leave it open. The dog started licking it and her cut had a scab by the next morn. In my opinion the dogs definatley have something that heals.

  19. HumanRN Says:

    @janeen…Peroxide delays healing, thats why it didn’t scab. Had nothing to do with the dog.

  20. Need some good old home remedies for that paw... - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums Says:

    [...] worse. I let him lick and it healed soon after. I believe dog saliva may help in some cases: Licking Wounds: Dog Saliva as Antibiotic? | Dog Reflections __________________ There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben [...]

  21. jo jo Says:

    that is so weird, all the web sites I looked at said that dog saliva has horrible bacteria. ( I am doing a seince fair project.

  22. Dog Photo Of The Day: Just A Little Lick… | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Good thing they say dog’s mouth’s are clean! [...]

  23. Common Sense Says:

    Why put a bacteria infested mouth on a wound just to break up the bacteria? And why would you believe that dogs mouth’s are cleaner??? I don’t know about you but I brush my teeth at least twice a day.

  24. Karen King Says:

    I am 55 yrs. in all my life I was told a dog licking a sore would heal it. Well, it is certainly TRUE! My mother, age 79, has very thin skin now and gets cuts easy, they bleed, my yorkie jumps right on it, heeling much quicker than not. I have always told my dog, “owie” he comes a running to the rescus. Wierd though, I will not let him lick my face, just me though.

  25. Donald Says:

    Would like to know the source of your findings. Researching why dogs lick human sores, as found in Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Thank you, Don

  26. snowden Says:

    Ok, yes humans brush their teeth because we have to. Other animals clean themselves without “technology” so through a big thing called “Evolution” animals have ways of keeping themselves clean and of healing themselves. A dogs saliva OBVIOUSLY has healing properties because of a study that was published where scientists used a dogs saliva to kill E. coli and another strain. Look it up. Personally, I’ve had a huge blister sore on my heel from my heels. I bandage it but that is it. I came home from work and my boxer started licking it. It started healing and is actually really closed up. Also, just because you’re a nurse/doctor doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING about the medical world, when’s the last time you’ve done an experiment on canine saliva? Didn’t think so. Makes me giggle.

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  28. caroline tudor Says:

    interesting information.
    my sister and i were just talking about this subject as our dogs are always licking our feet. funny.
    maybe now i will let them.
    for more wound care information (for people) please check my site out.

    thanks a bunch for the site!


  29. Patsy Says:

    I rescued a cat who had a 3rd. degree burn on 90% of her back. Some of the burn was down to the bone. The vet wanted me to keep a cone on her head and I used my common sense and let her lick it. She licked around the edges everyday and in no time the wound was completely healed. Vets only know what they learn in school and most have no personal experience. If you want to know what is best for your pet, consult the forums where other pet owners talk. They are the ones with the best information.

  30. Laura Says:

    I had a deep scratch from my cat that wouldn’t heal until the dog took over, kept it cleaned and kept the scab off so it could heal from the inside to the outside. Last night I scrapped my leg until it bled. It was painful to allow the dog to do take care of the wound, but he did other wise I would have been in pain all night. Today it looks amazingly well and has not bothered me too much. I’ve tried antibiotics on cuts and wounds before and they don’t seem to work. Not only that, they seem to take forever to heal. In fact I just did the antibiotic for a long scratch from the cat and it took several days to look okay.

  31. Chris Says:

    I have always let my Labs lick my minor scrapes.
    They have always healed rather nicely. They tend
    to gravitate to these wounds without being prompted. They find oowies I didnt know I had. There is definately something going on there. Peace and out.

  32. Rick Says:

    A dog licking post surgical closure areas is more about timing than anything. Licking and nipping at a freshly closed wound will create problems, however late in the healing process, there may be a benefit. This is more about upper dermal tissue healing than infection. Most dogs do not have active infection
    at the closure sight. True bacterial infection characterized by spreading redness and drainage should be managed with an antibiotic that has activity against Staph Aureus and group d streptococci, among others. The dogs saliva doesn’t stand a chance against some of these pathogens.

  33. Doses Blog Says:

    Wounds In Dogs Easily Gets

    [...] t wanted me to keep a cone on her head and I used my common sense and let her li [...]

  34. Medium Blog Says:

    Wounds In Dogs Easily Gets

    [...] r head and I used my common sense and let her lick it. She licked around the edg [...]

  35. Sami colwell Says:

    I have to agree my have this itching diease on my leg and it itches slot all day 3veryday. My dog will lick my day every day wheni start itching it when he licks my leg an instant happynees comes over Me because him licking at it makes it not itch any more sounds crazy but it’s true.

  36. heysup Says:

    dog saliva does have some healing factors but it does not mean u would allow it to lick it’s wound against the vet’s advice. Too much licking can cause many skin infections and if u are allowing ur pet to lick ur wound it might transfer the harmful bacteria from it’s mouth into your body throught that cut! if u do not get any disease after ur pet licked the cut(and thank god u didn’t!) it doesn’t mean that u jump to the conclusion that pet saliva has true healing powers..the doctors are experienced,listen to them and keep urself and ur pets healthy:)

  37. Doses Blog Says:

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