Your dog was just neutered, and he’s now licking his incision. What do you do next? It’s not wise to allow the licking to continue. Even if your dog only licks his incision occasionally, he’s likely to cause a skin infection and possibly damage his stitches enough to require a return visit to the vet, as well as sedation in order to repair the sutures. Some dogs never lick their incisions after castration, but those that do lick should be stopped immediately.
Stopping the Licking
If your dog is fairly large, you may be able to put a pair of old, clean boxer shorts on him after cutting a hole for his tail. This method prevents licking without inconveniencing your dog and making it difficult for him to sleep comfortably, as Elizabethan collars and inflatable collars do. However, you’ll need to monitor the dog closely and make sure he doesn’t remove the shorts or chew through them. You may also want to purchase an Elizabethan collar for times when your dog must be left alone. If he licks enough to cause irritation even once, he’ll have to wear boxer shorts or a collar for another week.
As for anti-licking collars, you’ve got two choices: An Elizabethan collar (the transparent plastic collars that look like radar dishes) or an inflatable collar. The Elizabethan collar is usually more affordable and more difficult for sneaky dogs to get around. The inflatable collar, which looks like an inner tube around your dog’s neck, is more comfortable except when the dog wants to sleep on his side. Some dogs are able to maneuver around inflatable collars in order to lick their incisions.
If your dog has licked his incision, a skin infection is likely. Call your veterinarian and ask about antibiotics. Your dog will probably need to take Amoxicillin. Do not give human medications to dogs, even if you happen to have an old bottle of Amoxicillin lying around. Dogs should take only the medication and dosage prescribed by a veterinarian.
Your dog may also be licking because his incision is painful. If your veterinarian didn’t send pain medication home with your pet after his neuter, consider requesting a low dose of a pain reliever like Rimadyl to give for a few days to relieve discomfort associated with surgery. Pets suffer less from pain than do humans, but those that appear uncomfortable and unhappy following neutering deserve pain relief.