While you may feel bad for a dog who can't scratch itchy surgery stitches, biting at stitches can cause a ruptured wound, infection and several other serious health problems. Keep your dog away from her stitches and the stress of surgery will soon be a distant memory.
Put an Elizabethan collar around your dog's neck. These lampshade-like collars keep your dog from chewing on her hindquarters. While the E-collar can be awkward and a bit uncomfortable for your dog, it will save you the headache of infected stitches and future vet visits. If your dog doesn't chew at night, you can take it off while she sleeps. Otherwise, give her a few extra pillows or blankets to rest her head and help support the weight of her collar.
Give your dog lots of treats when she doesn't try to chew her stitches. This helps distract her from the discomfort of stitches and will encourage her to avoid chewing.
Ask your vet if you can massage or rub the area around the stitches. Gently rub the areas surrounding the stitches -- not directly on the stitches -- to help alleviate itching and pressure. Your vet may also be able to prescribe anti-itching medication or give you topical medications to help your dog feel less uncomfortable.
Apply a chewing deterrent to stitches on feet and other areas that an E-collar can't keep your dog away from. Check with your vet before putting anything directly on the injury. Bitter apple is often effective at deterring chewing. Tell your dog, "No" when she tries to chew, then give her a treat when she stops.
- The Whole Dog Journal: Comfortable Dog Cone Alternatives
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge et al.
- The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook; Betsy Brevitz
- Alternatives to Elizabethan collars are available and include soft discs and wide, cushioned collars that may be more comfortable for your dog.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.