Why Does My Dog Lick My Cuts?

Have you noticed that when you have a cut or graze on your skin, your dog will lick it?

Do they do this with open cuts and older ones that have scabbed over?

Do you want to know why this is?

And is it safe to let your dog lick your damaged skin?

This post will answer the question, “why does my dog lick my cuts” and then see if it is safe to let them do so.

Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Cuts?

Your dog licks your cuts for the same reason they lick their own cuts or cuts on other dogs.

They instinctively know that the skin is damaged and that licking might help clean or heal it.

When your dog licks your cuts, they are trying to help your skin stop getting infected and to heal.

Well, that’s the most likely answer, but there are a few more reasons why this behavior might occur.

Let’s look at all the potential reasons in more detail:

  1. They are trying to clean or heal your broken skin.
  2. They like the taste of your blood or scabs.
  3. You have accidentally trained them to lick your cuts.
  4. Your dog is trying to comfort you.

1. They Are Trying to Clean or Heal Your Broken Skin

When talking about canine behavior, we must be careful not to anthropomorphize and project our way of thinking onto the dog.

When humans help each other to heal from things like cuts, we do so consciously.

We know what we are doing and why.

Dogs’ brains don’t work like that.

They don’t think, “my human has a cut. If I lick it, my saliva will help their skin to heal.”

However, they do have the instinct to lick your damaged skin, and the reason they have that instinct is that their saliva does have some healing properties.

2. They Like the Taste of Your Blood or Scabs

Human blood and scabs taste salty. Just as humans do, dogs also like the taste of salt.

It could be that simple. Your dog might just think your blood is delicious.

If you think about it, it is a kind of compliment and better than they think it tastes awful (especially when you think about what else they lick)!

3. You Have Accidentally Trained Them to Lick Your Cuts

While this might sound surprising, it is easy to accidentally train your dog into a behavior pattern.

For example, let’s say your dog randomly licked a cut on your skin one day, and without thinking, you laughed and stroked them.

The dog felt good because you reacted warmly and gave them some attention.

They repeated the behavior, and you gave them a nice cuddle this time.

They have learned that if they lick your cuts, you will be nice to them.

So whenever they want some attention and affection from you, they lick your damaged skin and see if it works.

You could, of course, look at this the other way around.

That your dog has trained you to pet them when they lick you.

Perhaps our dogs are a lot smarter than we realize.

Small Dog Licking Baby's Hands

4. Your Dog is Trying to Comfort You

Dogs have an incredible ability to read the mood of humans, especially people who they spend a lot of time with.

A recent scientific study has recently shown that dogs can tell if their owners are stressed just from smelling their breath or sweat.

Dogs have also been shown to care about their owner’s emotional well-being and will try to soothe them if they are sad or stressed.

If your dog senses that you are in pain or upset about your cuts, they might lick them to try and soothe your stress levels.

Is it Safe Let Your Dog Lick Your Cuts?

You should not let your dog lick your cuts if you want to avoid the risk of infection.

Canine saliva has some nasty bugs. As a result, diseases and parasites can be transmitted from pet dogs to their owners.

With licking cuts, there is a genuine risk of infection due to the bugs being able to get inside your body easily through your broken skin.

So while it is usually considered safe to let your dog lick your skin (as long as the skin isn’t damaged), in this case, you shouldn’t let them do it.

Of course, it’s your choice, but the best advice is not to let a dog lick any cuts or wounds you might have.

If you are still tempted to let them do it, please watch this short but shocking video!

It might just change your mind (click the image to play):


NOTE – If your dog does lick one of your cuts and you notice signs of infection, please see a doctor as soon as possible.

It could turn very serious, very quickly.

Does Dog Saliva Heal Wounds in Humans?

Dog saliva contains proteins and other compounds that may have both a healing or a cleaning effect on wounds in dogs and humans.

However, canine saliva also contains nasty bacteria and parasites that can cause severe illness and even death in humans.

So while your dog’s saliva may offer some limited healing properties, this is likely outweighed by the risk of serious infection.

A Note About Being Allergic to Dog Saliva

While most people know that it is possible to be allergic to dog fur and dander (skin that has been shed), fewer people realize that canine saliva can also be allergenic.

In fact, multiple proteins in dog saliva can trigger allergic reactions in humans.

This should be taken into account when considering if you should let your dog lick anywhere on your skin, especially if you suffer from other allergies, particularly any related to animals.

You should consider getting some medical advice if any symptoms arise, such as a rash, hives, swelling, or soreness.

And, of course, if you discover that you are allergic to canine saliva, you need to take measures to stop it from coming into contact with your skin.

How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Cuts

The most obvious and easiest way to stop this canine cut-licking behavior is to prevent them from being able to get close to the damaged skin.

For example, if you can put a band-aid on the cut, this will help, or you could wear clothes that cover it up.

If that isn’t ideal for you, another option is to train them to understand the “No” command.

Training and Using the “No” Command

Cute Dog Licking FaceIf you have not already trained your dog to obey the no command, you should prioritize it.

Select a behavior you want them to stop doing – in this case, licking your cuts – you need to catch them in the act of doing it, say “No” in a firm voice, and physically stop them from doing it.

For example, if your dog was licking a cut on your hand, you would pull your hand away and say the “No” command clearly and firmly.

Once they understand the “No” command for hand licking, it will be much easier to train them to understand it in a different context, such as barking, jumping up at people, or licking your cuts.

You should work through a few different behaviors until they understand that “No” means stop what they are doing, whatever it is.

Using Distraction and Praise to Encourage A Different Behavior

After successfully using the “No” command to stop the dog from licking your damaged skin, you should reward and distract them.

Give them a treat, pet them, or give verbal praise, so they associate stopping with feeling good.

Then play with them, let them go outside, move them around the house, or do something similar to distract them from returning to the licking.

If you keep up with this simple two-step process, you should notice a reduction in this wound-licking behavior.

Not only that, but if they do carry on with the licking, you will be able to stop them much more quickly.

Final Thoughts On Why Your Dog Licks Your Cuts

When your dog licks your cuts, it is most likely because of one of these reasons:

  1. They are trying to clean or heal your broken skin.
  2. They like the taste of the blood or the scabs.
  3. You have accidentally trained them to lick your cuts.
  4. Your dog is trying to comfort you.

Dog saliva carries all sorts of nasty bugs, so you shouldn’t let your dog lick cuts, scabs, or damaged skin.

The easiest way to stop your dog from licking your cuts is to cover them up with band-aids or clothes.

If your dog does lick your cut and you notice any signs of infection, please consult a doctor ASAP. It could turn very serious, very quickly.

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