A few weeks ago, I had a scratch on my leg, and it bled a little. That afternoon, Callie came into my office and licked my wound. I let her do her thing for a few minutes, but I wasn’t sure I understood exactly what she thought she was doing. “Was she just liking the taste of blood? Or did she think she was treating my injury?” So I did a little unscientific research.
Dogs do lick their young to cure their wounds. Dogs can be very caring about their puppies and their senior citizens. The African Wild Dog (a species) licks the wounds of its old, sick or injured pack members.
Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article from www.godsdirectcontact.org:
“When dogs lick their loved ones it is their way of showing care and affection, as when a mother dog lovingly licks her pups or when dogs lick their masters. However, some people dislike being licked by dogs and believe incorrectly that canine saliva is unhygienic. On the contrary, since it contains antibacterial substances, the saliva of a healthy dog is harmless and actually has healing properties. In fact, the science magazine Alaska Science ForumE. coli and Streptococcus canes. recently published an article entitled â€œDog Saliva: the Next Wonder Drug?â€ which discusses a 1990 experiment by University of California researchers who found that dog saliva killed the harmful bacteria.”
And here’s an interesting excerpt from www.Dolittler.com:
“Didnâ€™t you know Caesar employed a small army of trained, wound-licking dogs to handle his soldiersâ€™ injuries? Sure, getting blood, guts, dirt and bacteria off a gaping wound is a good thing whether itâ€™s a tongue or a gauze sponge. The latterâ€™s better, but why quibble over details?”
So it seems that dogs do have an urge to help cure the wounds of their own, as well as their human masters. And, apparently, their saliva does contain some antibacterial substances which helps heal wounds.
Last night, when I returned from vacation, I had another small scratch on my leg. I had covered it up with a bandage, but I hadn’t really cleaned it like I should have. Having completed my research project, I decided to pull off the bandage and let Callie lick away. Which she did. Some people might think this is kind of gross, but Callie did a very thorough job, and both of my Callie-cured wounds are healing beautifully.
In case you’re thinking, “Well, dogs just like the taste of blood,” I did this little unscientific experiment. I let Callie lick a small spot of blood on my shorts; she took a quick stab at it and quickly lost interest. Which made me think she really does have a genuine interest in treating my wounds.
Next time you have a little scratch, consider the possibility that your dog might take great pleasure in playing doctor and helping to heal your wound. You’ll still want to use conventional methods to avoid an infection, but it seems that your dog’s saliva will at least help a little.