How to Stop a Dog from Scratching a Wound

how to stop a dog scratching a wound

Watching your dog scratch at a wound can make you feel helpless. You want them to recover quickly so they can go back to living their best life, but they just won’t keep their teeth and paws off the wound. It’s important you stop them itching at it so the healing can complete.

How can you stop a dog from scratching a wound?

There are different ways to keep your dog from scratching a wound. You can use an Elizabethan or inflatable collar, apply a vet-approved anti-itching cream or anti-licking spray, bandage the wound, or have them wear a t-shirt or recovery suit.

The following guide will detail those methods so you can decide which is the best method you should use to stop your dog itching at the wound and stopping it from healing.

6 ways to stop your dog scratching a wound

Whilst you’re doing all you can to help your dog’s wound heal faster after treatment, one thing keeps frustrating your efforts — your dog’s wound-scratching habit.

If they aren’t running their paw on the wound, they are itching or chewing it. Sigh! Don’t despair yet, though. There are effective solutions to make your dog give their wound a break.

1. Get a well-fitting Elizabethan collar or inflatable collar

Sure. An E-collar or “cone of shame” as others call it, can make your furry pal look like they’re straight outta space. You can buy them on Amazon, here’s one I recommend.

But it comes in handy if your dog likes to scratch their wound with their teeth.

Most vets send injured dogs home with an e-collar so that shows it does an awesome job in solving the scratching problem.

Your dog will wear this cone-shaped plastic collar (with the edges stretching to the nose tip) around their neck. Many dogs don’t like these e-collars. But it’s for the best.

Make sure you get a well-fitting and comfortable one to make the experience bearable for your furry friend. Your vet can guide you on the ideal E-collar to buy.

An inflatable collar is also an effective alternative if you’d want something different. This collar resembles a typical travel pillow. Here’s a great one on Amazon.

Its purpose is similar to an E-collar’s — to limit your dog’s head movement and make it difficult for them to scratch or itch the wound with their mouth and teeth.

Also, speak to your vet before getting one to avoid the mistake of getting the wrong size.

Lastly… don’t leave them alone wearing it!

2. Bandage the wound

It’s simple. If your dog can’t see the wound, they might not be inclined to itch or scratch it. Or at least, if they do, the chances are opening the wound again are vastly reduced.

Bandaging will stop your canine friend’s wound-scratching habit and keep the wound area clean — which is necessary for a fast-healing process.

But you must ensure that you don’t tie the bandage too tight. Successful wound healing requires good blood flow and proper oxygen circulation to the wounded area.

Pressing the bandage too hard on the bruise will only interfere with the healing progress.

It’s important that you change the bandage often. Also, reach out to your vet if you notice any unusual swelling or strange smell when removing the bandage.

3. Have them wear a t-shirt or recovery suit

Like bandages, a t-shirt will hide the wound from your dog and frustrate their scratching mission. You can actually buy a specialist dog recovery suit on Amazon.

Covering the wound with a t-shirt work well if your dog’s injury is on the shoulder, neck, or around the rib cage. You must also ensure the t-shirt isn’t tightly fitting to avoid issues of poor blood or oxygen flow to the wound.

Besides t-shirts, you also purchase a special recovery suit often designed for dogs going through wound aftercare. Speaking to your vet about this suit is a good starting point.

4. Try an anti-itching cream and anti-licking spray

As the name suggests, an anti-itching cream will reduce the itchiness your dog often experiences in their wound. When itchiness isn’t a big problem, your canine friend may not even remember the injury exists.

On the other hand, an anti-licking spray will leave an unpleasant smell and taste on the wound area.

Your dog will probably not like the spray’s scent and taste on their paws and mouth when scratching. So, they’ll avoid itching at the wound.

But before getting any of these products at a pet store near you, seek your vet’s advice. Doing so will ensure you buy a dog-friendly spray — one whose ingredients won’t be harsh on the wound.

5. Rely on distraction tactics

You can also keep your dog’s wound scratch-free by making sure your idle dog is busy during recovery.

This will help minimize boredom-triggered scratching episodes. Perhaps invest in a dog brain game like puzzle toy games (see on Amazon). These are the best choice in this case.

Games involving a lot of running and rolling around may not be suitable for your dog’s recovery.

6. Avoid using vet-unapproved products on the wound

If your vet hasn’t advised you to use a particular product as part of your dog’s wound care routine, please don’t think about it.

Otherwise, you might unintentionally cause further irritation to the wound, making your dog develop a stronger urge to scratch the area.

Why do dogs scratch their wounds?

To stop them scratching the wound, it’s also key to understand why dogs like to itch them. Let’s see:

  • Their instincts tell them to. Most dogs do the “scratch-then-lick” ritual on their wounds because it’s natural for them to want to take care of a wound. They can also bite at wounds.
  • The wound feels itchy. This itchiness can be due to the missing fur on the wound trying to grow back. Or because of air entering the wound and causing a tingling sensation.
  • Scratching somehow offers temporary relief. It happens this way. As your dog scratches the wound, the pain they feel triggers their brain to produce serotonin — a natural opiate-like chemical that offers temporary feelings of relief when a dog is in pain. So your dog will repeatedly scratch their wound just to experience this short-lived relief.
  • They are bored. Scratching and licking their wound might seem like the only thing they can do to pass time.

Unfortunately, you can’t sit your dog down and explain why scratching does harm and zero good to their wound.

This habit re-opens parts of the wounds that have already started healing, ruins any stitches, and causes bleeding on the wound.

Your dog can also transfer all the dirt on their paws and bacteria on their mouth to the wound, causing more infection. In short, scratching slows down your dog’s wound healing process.

That said, these six solutions above should ensure your dog stops the scratching the wound temptation.

More on wound scratching!

How do you keep a dog from itching a wound?

As mentioned earlier, you can buy them a well-fitting E-collar or inflatable collar, bandage the open wound, apply a vet-approved anti-itching cream, keep them distracted with brain games, and let them wear a t-shirt or recovery suit.

What can I do if my dog is scratching till it’s bleeding?

To stop this scratching habit from happening, you can bandage the area, let them wear a comfortable e-collar or inflatable collar, and use a vet-recommended anti-itching or anti-licking spray. You can also consider having them wear a t-shirt or dog-specific recovery suit and engaging them in brain games to keep boredom at bay.

How can I help heal my dog’s wound fast?

It’s best to consult your vet on how to properly care for the wound — including what to apply and what to avoid. Plus, ensure your dog doesn’t scratch the wound using the tips above.


You will agree that it’s normal for our canine friends to get hurt.

It’s probably the price they pay for getting into fights with other dogs at the park, trying to squeeze themselves through spaces with protruding wires, and rough playing on grounds with sharp objects.

Knowing how playful and adventurous dogs are, anything can go wrong in the blink of an eye.

Such risky situations can leave your dog with a wound. Maybe a minor one that you can treat at home or a serious wound that will require professional treatment.

Once it’s treated, you must stop them scratching at it.

You might also like…

Header image via

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

Recent Posts