April 07, 2021 Dogs Responsible Pet Ownership

Dog Muzzles Shouldn’t Be Scary – Here’s Why

A dog wearing a muzzle

Dog Muzzles Shouldn’t Be Scary – Here’s Why

National Dog Bite Prevention Week, April 11-17, 2021, calls attention to the dangers of dog bites. In 2017, 350,000 people visited emergency rooms because of a dog bite. Emergency room physicians believe many more than that were bitten and did not require emergency care. Careful interactions with dogs can prevent most bite injuries. Veterinarians like me, protect themselves by using muzzles when examining injured, fearful or aggressive dogs. But if you see a dog on the street wearing a muzzle, does the muzzle always indicate a dog that bites?

Many Reasons for a Dog to Wear a Muzzle

There is a really cute Jack Russell terrier that lives in my building. He tends towards the higher body condition score for dogs, in part because he likes to eat from the New York City “sidewalk” café. Wearing a muzzle on walks keeps him from snacking between meals and helps to control his weight!

Another friend of mine uses a muzzle on her dog to keep it from grazing on the lawn, protecting her rugs from the inevitable green liquid vomit that follows. The muzzle has become an unexpected training device and her dog has learned not to eat grass to avoid wearing the muzzle. A muzzle will also prevent the rock eating dog from needing another endoscopy to extract a rock from their stomach.

If you have a skittish dog, one that overreacts to loud noises or is unpredictable around strangers, a muzzle protects others when you have your dog out in public. A muzzle can also serve as a visual warning to steer clear of a dog that is not receptive to attention from strangers. A dog trainer I know, teaches muzzle wearing as part of her dog training program. This effort makes my job a lot easier and my patients less distressed when I need them to wear a muzzle. See the video for this muzzle for an example of using treats to make a dog happy to slip on their muzzle. 

Choosing a Muzzle for Your Dog

At the Animal Medical Center, we use nylon muzzles with a click lock fastener. Functional and easy to clean, these muzzles come in sizes from teacup Poodle to Great Dane. However, the standard nylon muzzle doesn’t work very well for snub nosed dogs. Because French bulldogs are very common patients at AMC, we stock a special type of muzzle for them.

If you are trying to prevent your garbage hound from dining at the “sidewalk” café, a basket muzzle is a good choice since it allows your dog to pant and sniff, without a swallow.

Injured animals will bite even their most favorite human because of fear or pain. To safely handle an emergency in your dog, learn how to make a DIY muzzle from your dog’s leash.

Dog Muzzles with a Sense of Humor

While researching muzzles for this blog, I came across some fun muzzles. I say fun because I’m not sure I would trust them to protect me from a bite injury, but I could see them being worn on Halloween. The fun muzzles include, the toothy grin muzzle, the quack muzzle, and the pig nose muzzle. Only this smiley muzzle looks both cute and functional. Remember, a muzzle doesn’t always mean the dog wearing it bites. But when you want to pet a strange dog, with or without a muzzle, ask the dog’s guardian if you can pet their dog and respect their answer if it is no.

Tags: dog bite prevention, dog muzzles, national dog bite prevention week,

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