How to Keep a Dog From Licking Its Stitches

A common complication following a dog's surgery---or the stitching of a wound---is the dog removing the stitches by licking the incision or laceration. Especially as the incision or wound starts to heal, many dogs will excessively lick the sutures. It's important you stop your dog because the licking could result in healing complications. There are a few ways you can get your dog to quit licking the incision or wound, though you may have to try all of them to stop your canine from licking the stitches.

Wrap the wound/incision in bandages. You may need to use first aid tape to secure the bandages in place. This will stop some dogs from licking their stitches, but many will simply chew the bandages off.

Apply a topical product designed to stop dogs from licking/chewing to the bandages to stop the dog from chewing them off. These products, which have a bitter taste, are available from your veterinarian or at pet stores.

Put an Elizabethan collar on your dog if the previous steps didn't stop the dog from licking the stitches. Your pet will hate the collar, which is basically a cone that goes around the dog's head and restricts it from licking. However, it's better than having your dog lick the stitches loose.


An incision normally heals within 10 to 14 days and a permanent scar forms in 14 to 21 days.


If you see lots of seepage or bleeding from the wound, or if you notice sutures are missing, you should take your pet to the veterinarian right away. If any tissue is protruding from the incision/wound, or if an incision is painful to the touch, this indicates healing is not occurring as it should, and you should take your dog to a veterinarian. A foul odour and/or discharge are signs of infection, which is not uncommon if dogs excessively lick the stitches. Any sign of infection should be reported to your veterinarian.

Things You'll Need

  • Elizabethan collar
  • Bandages
  • First aid tape
  • Anti-chewing/licking product
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About the Author

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.