Stitches, whether from surgery or a wound, can often be captivating for dogs. They may lick and gnaw at the area incessantly, risking bacteria entry and prolonging healing time.
Most veterinarians recommend using an Elizabethan collar, or “cone,” to prevent your dog from getting to the stitches. However, some dog parents find these devices uncomfortable and stressful for their furry friends.
Luckily, there are some cone alternatives that can help keep your pup from licking his stitches. Let’s explore a few of the most popular options. But first, why do dogs lick their stitches in the first place, and is this a bad thing?
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Why dogs shouldn’t lick their stitches
Contrary to the belief of some dog parents, licking stitches is not an effective way for dogs to clean their wounds. In fact, it can actually delay healing. Although there is some evidence that dog saliva has some antibacterial properties, it still does more harm than good.
Licking stitches is particularly harmful to dogs. This re-opens the wound, which results in a trip back to the vet for restitching. It also reintroduces bacteria to the wound, which can cause infection. And finally, licking can irritate the skin around the wound, causing further discomfort.
5 Cone alternatives to keep a dog from licking stitches
So, how do you keep your dog from licking his stitches? The most popular method is to use an Elizabethan collar, or “cone.” But as we mentioned, some dog parents find these devices stressful for their furry friends. If you’re looking for a cone alternative, here are a few of the most popular options.
Bandages can be an effective way to keep your dog from licking his stitches. You’ll need to wrap the bandage around the area tightly enough that he can’t pull it off, but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Be sure to check the bandage often and replace it if it gets wet or dirty.
Another popular cone alternative is to dress your dog in a shirt or sweater. This will help keep him from being able to reach his stitches. Just be sure the clothing is loose enough that he’s comfortable and not at risk of getting it caught on something. You’ll also want to check it often to make sure it’s not irritating his skin.
Inflatable collars are another popular cone alternative. These work by inflating around your dog’s head, making it difficult for him to reach his stitches. They’re generally more comfortable than traditional Elizabethan collars and can be deflated when you’re not using them. Another benefit is the design compared to a traditional cone, which can make an inflatable collar a better choice.
Softer E-collars are a type of Elizabethan collar that’s made from a softer material. This can make them more comfortable for your dog, which may help him be more accepting of wearing it. They also look a bit less “clunky” than traditional Elizabethan collars.
Surgical suits are another popular cone alternative. These are full-body suits that cover your dog’s chest and hind end. This makes it difficult for him to reach his stitches, no matter where they are. Surgical suits can be a bit pricey, but they’re often covered by pet insurance.
Additional tips to prevent your dog from licking stitching
In addition to using a cone alternative, there are a few things to keep in mind to help prevent your dog from licking his stitches.
Wounds require oxygen and blood flow
When using some of the above cone alternatives, it’s important to make sure the area is still getting enough oxygen and blood flow. This is necessary for healing.
Keep the area clean and dry
It’s important to keep the area around your dog’s stitches clean and dry. This means cleaning with an antiseptic solution and patting the area dry. You should also avoid using any lotions or creams, as this can make the area more appealing to lick.
Give your dog something to chew on
Providing your dog with a toy or treat that he enjoys chewing on can help keep him from licking his stitches. This will give him something else to focus on.
Final thoughts – How to keep a dog from licking stitches?
Dog licking stitches can be frustrating for dog parents, but there are a number of cone alternatives that can help. From bandages to inflatable collars, there are a number of options to choose from.
It’s important to find one that your dog is comfortable with and that will still allow the wound to heal properly. Make sure the alternative cone is not too tight, preventing circulation, and oxygen to the wound.
Giving your dog something to chew on can also help keep him from licking his stitches. This will provide a distraction and help him focus on something else. With a little patience, your dog will be healed up in no time.