What should I do if my dog is licking his wound or chewing the stitches?
In the first few days after surgery, your dog may instinctively try to clean the operation site by licking. The incision may become itchy as the wound heals and the fur begins to grow back in. Your dog may respond to this itchiness by licking or chewing. It is a misconception that dogs saliva is somehow antibacterial or will promote healing of a wound.
If your dog chews or licks excessively, there is a danger of the stitches being pulled out or of infection being introduced into the wound. If your dog persists in licking its incision, you may have to purchase an Elizabethan collar to prevent this behavior (see handout “Elizabethan Collars in Dogs” for more information). Not surprisingly, many dogs find these collars strange at first and will attempt to remove them. However, after a short period most pets will settle down and tolerate wearing the collar. It is better to keep the collar on all the time, rather than to take it on and off. It only takes a few seconds of chewing for a dog to undo his stitches or damage the surgery site. If your dog does succeed in removing any of its stitches then please call your veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
How long do dogs have stitches?
Surgical wounds in dogs usually take about 10-14 days to heal. The veterinarian will likely schedule a follow-up appointment after this time to carry out a review and potentially remove the stitches. This will depend on the type of suture used as some are able to be absorbed by the dogs tissue. If not, but the wound has healed correctly, they will remove the stitches.
Take a look at our article on what happens when a dogs wounds do not heal.
It is increasingly common to use intradermal sutures which are buried in the skin. These types of sutures are not visible from the outside, making it difficult for dogs to pull out the stitches. For this type of intradermal sutures, a resorbable suture material is used. This is eventually eliminated by the body itself. In this type of suture it is not necessary to remove the stitches, since they themselves are reabsorbed. Treatment is only required if there is infection or another problem.
How long does it take for a dogs incision to heal?
Most average cats and dogs take fourteen days for their incisions to heal. Side note: that’s about how long it takes for people to heal, too. It’s good to remember that if a person had a surgery like your pet just had, they would be restricted from activity for about a month!