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The Canine in Conversation
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lick one's wounds. Recover; comfort oneself after a defeat or a painful encounter.

Of course numerous creatures lick their wounds, including humans, so it could be argued that this is not really a dog reference. Nonetheless, the persistent belief—especially among dog owners—that dog saliva contains special healing properties, suggests that there is a connection. As it turns out, there are antibacterial agents in almost all saliva, including both caninereference 1 and human.reference 2 As it also turns out, both orifices contain bacteria that can cause infection, especially for those with compromised immune systems. Still, as Nigel Benjamin, the lead author for the Lancet article, “Wound Licking and Nitric Oxide,” points out, it's instinctive. Benjamin and his colleagues are more ready than most to attribute healing properties to saliva of all kinds. “There is evidence to suggest that if you prevent animals from licking their wounds; they don't heal nearly so quickly as if you allow them to lick them.”reference 3

1. Rozell, Ned. 1995. Dog Saliva: The Next Wonder Drug? Alaska Science Forum. 2005 (1234). Accessed Mar 1 2005 from http:// ScienceForum/ ASF12/ 1234.html .

2.Benjamin, N, S Pattullo, R Weller, L Smith, and A Ormerod. 1997. Wound Licking and Nitric Oxide. Lancet 349 (9067):1776.

3.Hunt, Steven. 1997. Scientists Discover a Reason to Lick Your Wounds. Discovery Channel Canada. Accessed Mar 1 2005 from http:// Stories/ 1997 /06/13/02.asp .
About the illustration: OK, so it looks as if this fellow had only a paper cut. And, isn't that just the kind of injury that prompts us to instinctively pop our fingers into our mouths? © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
cf: bite the hand that feeds one; lick one's chops Last updated: July 5, 2008
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