Unexpected Paranormal Romance
Disclaimer: No affiliate links are accompanied with the links in this article. We have no affiliation with any of these products. This is an unbiased opinion of our own journey of what to do when dogs lick their wounds or stiches. We are not vets, nor do we have the experience of such. Please consult your veterinarian about these products before applying. Each dog is unique and needs personalized attention and your best judgement on how to carry out their needs.
Our family adopted him when he was 10 months old. His original owners said he was “uncontrollable,” and we were approached because Mark McKibben, husband, and father, is a dog trainer. Within no time, Thor became a model citizen, so much so that he attends meetings with Mark and has become the example of a well-behaved pooch.
Fast forward to about six years. As a more mature dog, Thor developed a lipoma, a lump under the skin that occurs due to an overgrowth of fat cells. His wound was on his hip and quite large. (Yes, he needs to lose weight.) Vets consider lipomas as non-cancerous growths, but it’s always advisable to remove them, just in case.
So, Mark took him in to have the growth removed. That was the easy part.
Should Dogs Lick Wounds to Heal Them?
It’s said dog kisses heal, so why didn’t we let Thor lick his post-surgical incision? Let me answer by asking, when was the last time your dog ate something off the sidewalk that you couldn’t identify? When was the last time they went licking their unmentionables? How many times do they brush their teeth?
It’s true that dogs can be a comfort when their people are depressed, hurting, lonely and need a friend. But while their mouths have a different set of bacteria separate from humans, which is why they don’t get sick when we have a cold and we can’t get kennel cough from them, licking a wound has a higher potential of getting infected.
Let us tell you about the experience we had with Thor licking his stitches. The post-surgical wound is in a spot that is very convenient for Thor to lick and irritate. And that’s exactly what he did, which resulted in him tearing out several the staples the vet applied. Of course, the area became inflamed and was in danger of getting infected.
After re-stapling and disinfecting the wound numerous times, we started searching for a better alternative than watching him closely and scolding him when he started sniffing the irritated area.
The Fault with an Elizabethan Collar
The dreaded Elizabethan Collar or a plastic post-surgical cone AKA the “Cone of Shame”, was a disaster. (Which is what we knew would occur and why we didn’t use it, to begin with.)
Thor is a wonderful companion, but he’s not the type to sit and mope while we nickname him lampshade. Dogs are problem solvers. Just because they seem helpless and want you every moment of every day doesn’t mean they can’t work around an issue by themselves.
Thor managed to rip off his plastic radar dish by sliding through the doggie door several times. He defeated that dragon long ago.
This led us to a mountain of research. We wanted to share what we found with you in hopes that if you ever need the information, you’ll have it. Let’s dive in:
Bitter Apple is a Doggie Condiment
You might get lucky and have one of those dogs that doesn’t like spicy or bitter tastes. If putting a collar on your dog isn’t an option, it might be best to apply a suitable cream or spray to the incision.
If you have a dog like Thor though, he loves spicy, and no bitter taste is going to slow him down from licking anything.
But the bitter taste of the cream might discourage your pup from licking and worth a try. There are many products available at your nearest grocery store that you can choose from. Common ones include Bitter Apple, Bitter Orange, and many others. We’ve used Bactine spray and Corona cream with some success. But if you look at Amazon reviews, you’ll see just as many people were unsuccessful with Bitter Apple because their dogs were driven to chew.
NOTE: If you’ve got a pup that won’t stop chewing, check that they aren’t teething. A vet check and $10 prescription might be the solution to that problem.
I can’t recommend putting spices like pepper or paprika to an open wound because even when applied near an incision spices burn.
Pop Goes the Collar
This doughnut-shaped ProCollar is one of the best alternatives to a cone. Thor found the most comfort with the inflatable core and soft, fuzzy material. But it only took one day before our lug head punctured the inflatable doughnut.
He also could not get in our large dog door and still found navigating our home difficult.
If your dog lives outside this might be a solution but be wary on what he’ll do to get rid of it. Fences, playing with other dogs, and sharp objects will permanently render this version useless.
But there is a fix!
Using the foam core version of the ProCollar prevented Thor from damaging the collar, and it is not too heavy. He snored quite loudly while sleeping in it which tells me he was uncomfortable snoozing with it on. Because he scratches and licks in his sleep, it was inevitable he would tear out his stitches without it. Plus, we couldn’t trust him at night not to chew himself a new hole in his thigh.
Unfortunately, Thor trying to get through the dog door with this on was like putting a round sphere in a rectangle hole. Still, though it’s hard to find, it’s one of the ones I’d recommend.
The Radar Dish
We did not get the opportunity to try the lightweight Soft-E-Collar (Thor was healed by that time despite his best efforts). But my reservation was it works much like an Elizabethan Collar by tying the base to Thor’s neck and using his collar to keep it in place. Again, a different version of something that didn’t work for us to begin with won’t help. But I’m willing to be proven wrong! Change my mind!
The Soft-E-Collar would be great for a dog that doesn’t vehemently try to remove his stitches and destroy anything that gets in his way.
The Suitable Dog Suit
We showed Mark the Suitical Dog Suit but ultimately decided that Thor would flip the side up or chew through the cloth to get to his incision. So, while we don’t have practical experience with this solution, we thought about it.
Why was it a no go?
A thin skinned or short haired dog would be okay in this, but I don’t want my pups to over-heat.
We have short to long haired pooches that love cold weather in our house, and putting this on during Summer would be a no. Dogs do suffer from heat stroke and anything above a Chihuahua might be uncomfortable in warm weather.
But I’m seriously considering it as a light pullover for our mixed-breed ankle-biter who shivers at the mere mention of Fall.
Lastly, I suggest the BiteNot collar which resembles a thick necklace. While Thor’s neck is ginormous and wrapping the thin, foam rubber padding is like trying to put a sumo-wrestler in a tight dress, the Velcro fastener and nylon strap wrap around most dog’s shoulders and armpits.
Lucky here (our model for the BiteNot) doesn’t have a problem with it at all.
It effectively prevents your dog from folding himself in half to chew or scratch on himself. Plus, Lucky can get through the dog door with no problems. Of course, he tries to get the collar off, like ya do, but to no avail! So, this one has been tried, tested, and undefeated.
This popped up in my feed one day and I thought… for $3 it’s worth a try! Plus, the model looks like Charlie, Carol's devoted German Short Hair. It’s cut pool noodles with a buckled strap. Hence, another ingenious invention due to the pool noodle! Hazzah!
Penn Scripter is the pseudonym for the combined efforts of the mother/daughter writing team Carol & Stephanie McKibben. Each bring their own flavor to the paranormal stories they write together. With their combined powers limitless possibilities abound! While both love paranormal Stephanie brings romance, and Carol brings the unexpected.
Penn Scripter is the nom de plume for the writing team of S.N. and Carol McKibben. This mother-daughter combo writes unexpected paranormal romance. Separately, they each have a healthy list of novels.
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