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Why Do Dogs Lick Blood? (6 Possible Reasons)

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Why Do Dogs Lick Blood? (6 Possible Reasons)

It can be concerning when you notice your dog licking the blood from your wound. Not only is a dog licking blood dangerous for the dog, but it can also be dangerous to you. However, there are a few reasons that dogs lick up blood when they see or smell it. We’ll give you six possible reasons your dog licks blood and answer a few common questions in the guide below.

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The 6 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Blood

1. Instinct

It’s a dog’s instinct to lick its wounds. Most animals have the same instinct, so whether it’s you, the ground, another dog they get along with, or themselves when a dog smells blood, it’s normal for the dog to lick it.

Licking a wound is beneficial to dogs who live in the wild. After all, they can’t reach the first aid kit, so licking the wound is their way to promote healing, which we’ll discuss in the rest of the guide.

puppy licking a senior dog
Image by: HartOfTheSouth, Shutterstock

2. Speeds Healing (In Dogs)

When a dog is bleeding, the first thing they do is lick the wound because the licking speeds the healing for dogs. However, you should never let your dog lick your wounds, as it can lead to diseases and infections.

For the dog, it’s a way to speed up the healing time and clean the wound. However, it’s not the best way to speed up your healing time, so refrain from letting your dog lick your wounds.

3. Pain Relief (In Dogs)

Dogs also lick their wounds as a form of pain relief. The licking releases endorphins, which are a natural pain killer for dogs. The endorphins relieve the pain and make the dog happy, just as they do with humans.

Dogs are the same as humans in this regard. For example, when you hit your elbow on the doorframe, you automatically rub it to relieve the pain.

close up dog licking wound
Image by: Wichaiwish, Shutterstock

4. Predator Prevention (In Dogs)

In the wild, predators are attracted to the smell of blood. They will quickly attack weak, injured prey because they are easier to kill. Dogs lick away the blood so predators won’t be drawn to the smell. This is also why female dogs lick the blood away from where they give birth, to protect themselves and their puppies from predators. Predator prevention isn’t needed as much for domestic pets, but the instinct still remains.

5. Interested in the Smell of the Wound (In Humans)

Your dog may be interested in how your wound smells. It’s not necessarily the blood the dog is interested in; it could be the infection and odor the wound is giving off instead. The dog knows that you’re injured and is checking on your health.

Large white Shepherd licking a wound on the knee of a little girl
Image Credit: Fiery Phoenix, Shutterstock

6. Healing and Cleaning (In Humans)

As you already know, dogs can be very protective of their pet parents. Trying to lick your wound is the dog’s way of cleaning it, keeping you safe from predators, and helping the injury to heal. Though it is a very sweet and caring thing your dog is trying to do, it’s best not to let your dog lick your wounds, as it can make you and your dog sick.

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Why Dogs Lick Blood FAQ

Now that you know why a dog licks blood off the ground, on themselves, and even on you if they can, we’ll answer some of the most common questions in the FAQ section below.

Can Dogs Get a Taste for Blood?

It’s long been a popular myth that if your dog licks blood off the ground or licks your blood, it will get a taste for blood and be like a wild dog. There has never been any evidence found that this myth is true.

Dog with licking tongue
Image by: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

How Do You Prevent Your Dog from Licking Blood?

While dog saliva does have healing properties, the risks far outweigh the benefits when it comes to letting your dog lick your wounds. You can prevent your dog from licking your wounds by cleaning and covering the injury with a Band-Aid or bandage as soon as it happens. You can also ignore the dog and walk away when it starts to lick you.

The best way to prevent a dog from licking its wounds is to purchase an e-collar which will stop the dog from being able to reach its wounds. If you can’t keep your dog from licking its wounds, it’s best to talk to your vet for further recommendations.

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Final Thoughts

No pet parent wants to think of their dog licking blood off the ground or licking wounds; the thought can make you a bit queasy. However, it helps to know the reasons for this strange behavior. While dog saliva has healing properties, the dangers far outweigh the benefits in this case. You and your dog can get sick from your dog licking your wounds, and there are some diseases, such as rabies, that you can’t recover from. The best thing to do is not let your dog lick your wounds but leave the wound healing to the professionals.

Featured Image Credit: lovelyday12, Shutterstock

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