It is often a dog's natural instinct to lick an injury or wound. While dogs often lick to help reduce the pain or eliminate the irritation, excessive licking can make the injury worse. Licking the wound can impair the body's ability to heal itself and may drastically slow the healing process. If stitches are involved, licking can open the incision and disturb the wound. The bacteria in the saliva of dogs can also cause serious infections. Luckily, there are several ways to stop your dog from licking its wounds.
Cover the wound. In many cases, wrapping a bandage or a piece of cloth around the wound will limit the dog's access to the injury and will prevent it from licking the wound. Sometimes though, the addition of a bandage will draw more attention to the area and cause the dog to increase the licking and gnawing on the sore area. New products made of a stretchable fabric, similar to that of a wet suit, cling closer to the body and prevent licking.
Strap a collar around the dog's neck. While it may look ridiculous, a lampshade shaped collar will reduce the dog's ability to move its head and prevent it from being able to reach and lick the wound. Unfortunately, some dogs find the collar very uncomfortable. Even with the device on, the dog may still be able to access certain areas, such as its front legs, making the collar unsuccessful in preventing licking.
Apply a cream to the affected area. There are many topical products that, when smeared onto the animal's wound, will dissuade the animal from licking the area. Many of these products have a bitter flavour, such as lemon, bitter apple, or cayenne pepper. If the dog licks the wound, the horrible taste will discourage the animal from continuing to do so. Before using a topical cream, make sure to consult your veterinarian to confirm that the produce is safe.
Consider using a different product to prevent your dog from licking its wounds. StopLik is a product that can help stop wound licking; it is strapped, like a bandage, around the wounded limb, and administers a mild electrical shock when it is licked. The mild shock is enough to register as unpleasant and persuade the dog to discontinue its licking behaviour. Still, some people may feel shocking their pet, however mildly, is cruel.