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Does dog saliva heal a wound?

Species: Dog
Breed: Black lab
Age: 2-5 years
Is there any truth to the old wive's tale that when your dog instinctlively licks a minor wound or scratch, is there actually an antiseptic effect that sooths the affected areas?




Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is an interesting question! I was about to tell you that this was completely an old wive's tale, but then I did some research. I'm not sure that I've come to any conclusions though!

Check out this study. It found that canine saliva did have a mild antibacterial effect against certain types of bacteria.

But, then check out this article which looked at several cases where people got infections because of being in contact with dog saliva. These people actually died because of these infections! And, in one of those cases there was no bite wound from the dog, just droplets of saliva.

It looks to me like there could be some very mild benefit to letting a dog lick your wound, but there could be some serious side effects. In my opinion the risks outweigh the benefits! So, if I have a wound, no dog is going to lick it! :)

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.