Does Dog Saliva Have Healing Properties?
Dog saliva has healing properties but only to a certain extent. It can hinder the growth of certain bacteria and help with the healing of minor cuts.
In a study done on Labrador Retrievers and Beagles, it was found that their saliva contains many antimicrobial enzymes and peptides that destroy holes in bacterial cell membranes, thereby hindering bacterial growth.
It is also found that lactoferrin, defensins, and cystatins are present in the saliva which kills bacteria, and an antiviral compound called thrombospondin.
Nigel Benjamin, a clinical pharmacologist from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry showed that nitrite, a compound found in the saliva, breaks down into nitric oxide when it comes in contact with the skin. Nitric oxide is found to be beneficial in protecting minor cuts and scratches from bacterial infections.
Another research done at the University of Florida at Gainesville found that dog saliva has a Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) protein that heals wounds twice as fast as wounds that have not been licked. It is also studied that dog saliva inhibits the growth of the Escherichia coli bacteria but not Staphylococcus infection.
Does it mean then, that it’s good to allow your dog to lick an open wound? Let’s see…
What Happens If Your Dog Licks Your Cut?
Every time a dog’s tongue moves across a wound, it removes any debris and dirt off the wounded area. The added moisture of the saliva helps dirt to stick to the dog’s tongue leaving the area “clean”. However, excessive licking can lead to trauma to the wound since the friction generated will bring harm to the wound in the long run.
Numerous studies have shown that the negative effects of dog licking outweigh the positive ones. A lot of anaerobic bacteria are also present inside a dog’s mouth that can be passed on to a person, like Pasteurella bacteria, which can cause life-threatening medical complications.
Hence, it is indeed not a good idea to let your pet dog lick your wound. You are better off leaving the wound to heal by itself, and always cover it well to prevent your dog from licking it.