Did your dog undergo a surgical procedure lately? If so, one of the challenging parts of recovery is knowing how to keep dog from scratching stitches on neck. Canines aren’t good patients, so pet owners need to ensure that their dog won’t be scratching or pawing the suture area.
No matter what the injury your dog sustained, surgery is a pretty stressful experience. The stress extends during the healing period since the stitches will start to itch or ache. This is when dogs will try to get their paws into the wound.
If you’re struggling to protect your dog’s stitches, this post is for you. Here, I discussed some methods that you can use to stop your dog from scratching its sutures.
How to keep dog from scratching stitches on neck
If your dog is incessantly trying to scratch or rip its neck stitches, you can do the following:
1. Keep it bandaged
It’s important to keep the surgery area clean and covered. Aside from preventing your dog from scratching the stitches, it will also stop flies and other insects from infecting the wound area.
The veterinarian will surely teach you how to clean your dog’s wound and how to bandage it. This way, the wound won’t itch, which is the main reason why your dog will try to scratch it in the first place.
However, if your dog is still trying to scratch the bandage off, you can ask the vet for plaster casts. These are rarely used for surgical procedures, but might be necessary in some cases.
Aside from that, it’s important to keep the bandage slightly loose, especially if you’re putting it wet. This is because the bandage will shrink once dried, which could potentially restrict circulation on your pet’s neck.
2. Put dog shoes on
Aside from covering the dog’s neck stitches, you can also put on the canine’s doggy boots. This will cover your pet’s claws, so it won’t directly rip the bandage off.
The good thing with doggy boots is they also provide traction on your pet’s food. This is helpful, especially if you have slippery floors where your recovering dog might stumble or fall.
3. Use a foam dog cone
Another important method to prevent your dog from scratching its neck stitches is using a foam dog cone. Unlike standard Elizabethan cones, foam dog cones won’t scrape the neck skin. It will also cushion any attempt of your dog to get its claws into the stitches.
Moreover, foam dog cones look like small travel pillows. You can place this around your dog’s neck, but make sure that it’s not too tight. Also, you still need to keep the stitches bandaged to protect them from infections.
Aside from that, you should wash the dog cone foam regularly to prevent it from harboring dirt and odor. I suggest getting two cones, so you can use them alternately.
4. Apply topical creams
Dogs often try to scratch their neck stitches because it’s starting to itch. This is a normal part of healing as long as there’s no present infection.
To soothe the itching, the vet can prescribe topical creams. This will help prevent infection while speeding up the healing of the surgery area.
Most of the time, the veterinarian will prescribe anesthetic creams. This is to numb both the pain and itching, so your dog will be more comfortable. It’s very helpful, especially at night, so your pet can have restful sleep.
Nevertheless, topical creams should always be used according to the vet’s instructions. Also, you should only apply topical creams after cleaning your dog’s stitches. This is to prevent dirt from getting trapped and pushed into the wound.
5. Provide painkillers
Right after your dog’s surgery, the anesthesia will start to wear off. This is when the canine will start feeling pain in the stitched area. To prevent the dog from scratching the wound, vets will provide painkillers with a specific dosage.
Aside from that, the vet will also prescribe antibiotics and other medications to reduce pain and inflammation in the surgery area.
6. Distract your dog
Lastly, it will help a lot to distract your dog, so it won’t target the stitches. Short walks and playtime are a great way to drain the canine’s excess energy. So instead of scratching its wound, the doggo will be fast asleep.
Chew toys are also a great distraction, especially when filled with treats. It will keep your dog busy without the excessive physical exertion that could be detrimental to its recovery.
However, make sure that your dog’s activities aren’t too rigorous. This is to prevent straining the surgery area too much.
7. Consider sedatives
For dogs that just won’t leave their neck stitches alone, mild sedatives can be used under the supervision of their veterinarian. This will calm the dog, so it won’t experience too much pain or discomfort. Also, it will discourage excessive scratching.
Nevertheless, sedatives should only be used for a short period and within the ideal dose. You should also ask the vet about this to ensure that your choice of sedative won’t have contraindication with the medicines your dog is taking.
Additional aftercare reminders for canine surgery
Aftercare for canine surgery is more than just wound care. Here are other points you should keep in mind to speed up your pet’s recovery:
🐶Keep the environment stress-free
A surgical procedure is stressful enough for dogs. This is why you should make your home as calm as possible to let your pet rest.
Some dogs will get anxious easily when left alone after the operation. With this, it’s best to keep your pet company until it shows signs of progress.
🐶Separate other pets and kids
After the operation, it’s best to isolate your dog from other pets at home. You should also keep kids at bay, so they won’t stress or inadvertently hurt the canine.
Isolation is also necessary if your dog is suffering from a compromised immune system. This is to prevent the risk of infection, which will hamper your dog’s road to recovery.
🐶Keep your dog indoors
While your dog is recovering, you should keep it indoors. Outdoor trips should be reserved for the potty schedule.
Walks and other forms of outdoor exercise should only resume once your pet has regained its strength. In some cases, the vet will recommend waiting for the incision to fully close before bringing your dog outdoors.
🐶Know what a normal stitch look like
As your dog’s caregiver, it’s important that you know what a normal stitch or incision looks like. This way, you can identify whether an infection is present.
In general, an incision that heals well has edges touching each other. Also, there would be mild redness, but it shouldn’t look too inflamed or swollen. If you noticed the latter, you should consult your dog’s vet immediately.
Take note that bruising near the surgery area is normal for many pale-colored dogs. Unless the bruises are getting bigger by the day, it shouldn’t be a cause of concern.
🐶Always check your dog’s stitches
It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s stitches to ensure that it’s healing well. In general, I recommend checking the incision area twice a day. You can also take pictures, so you can compare the progress over the days.
In case your dog develops an infection, the pictures you took will help the veterinarian come up with a suitable treatment. Just make sure that you take the photos in the same lighting for accuracy.
🐶Don’t forget about proper diet
After surgery, your dog will be lethargic and reluctant to eat. In this case, you have to find ways to encourage feeding to ensure that your pet is receiving its much-needed nourishment.
You can try hand-feeding wet food or putting the bowl right next to the dog’s bed. Also, never force-feed your dog as this will just hurt the neck stitches and it will make your pet more stressed. If poor appetite persists, the vet is always the best person to call.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take for dog stitches to heal?
A: On average, sutures will take up to 14 days to heal. However, like humans, each dog has a unique duration of healing. Some dogs may heal faster while others may need more time. The key here is keeping the surgery clean and far from your dog’s claws. You should also follow the vet’s orders to speed up your dog’s recovery.
Q: How do you know if your dog’s stitches are healing?
A: Stitches on dogs will start to heal once the redness is subsiding. Also, the incision area shouldn’t be swelling and there shouldn’t be any unusual discharge or smell. If the opposite is happening, you need to consult your dog’s vet immediately.
Q: What happens if a dog licks his stitches?
A: When a dog licks its stitches, it will be exposed to the risk of infection. This is why pet owners are encouraged to find ways to keep the incision area covered, so dogs won’t lick or scratch it. While neck stitches are impossible to lick, scratching is what you need to watch out for.
Knowing how to keep dog from scratching stitches on neck is crucial for speedy healing. Remember that canines don’t have any grasp of their condition, which means they will try to rip the sutures off whenever they can.
As the pet owner, it’s your task to ensure that this will not happen. Regular consultation with the vet and close monitoring of your dog is necessary to prevent any of these untoward situations.