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Muzzles are a really useful tool that you may use in pet first aid and we certainly use in the veterinary clinic. They are not necessarily for aggressive dogs. They can be used to help you examine your dog safely at home. If your pet dog has had an injury, then they may be quite painful, but you need to be able to look at that injury or if it is bleeding, you need to be able to put a bandage or a pad on there to stop the bleeding. And if the only way you can safely do that without getting bitten is to put a muzzle on, then that is what you should do, because it is much better for your dog to have a muzzle when you stop that bleeding than not do that. We will sometimes use a muzzle in the vets for that exact reason, and sometimes we use them because a dog does not want to be in the vets and so they do become quite anxious and actually they can calm down when they have got a muzzle on, they feel a little bit more secure for some reason when they have got that muzzle on.

There are different types of muzzle to use, there are some that are safer to use a longer term, others that you would just use to do what you need to do. The longer term would be if you needed to muzzle your dog for a particular reason. If they were a scavenger, for example, and you needed to stop them from picking up food that they should not be eating when out on a walk, you might want to use something like a basket muzzle. So this gives them a little bit more space. All muzzles will still allow your dog to breathe normally, this I feel is just a little bit more comfortable. So you just place them with the shorter part of the muzzle at the top of the nose, slide them over the nose and then just attach them around the back of the ears. Now, if you have a very anxious dog that does not want to be muzzled or is trying to bite you in the consulting room or while you are out, what you would not do is approach them from the front and try and put the muzzle on as I did with Elsa, because they are going to try and bite you as you are doing it. The best thing in that situation is just to come around them where they cannot see and then just try and put the muzzle on really as quickly and as effectively as you can.

The type of muzzle that you might want to have in your first aid kit would be a material one. These do not take up as much space and can fold up. They will be tighter sometimes around the dog's muzzle, so you would not want to keep them on for very long. The same thing applies around the front of the nose, up around the ears and they just click into place. They are quite comfortable, but I would not want to keep these on for much longer than say the amount of time it is going to take you to pop a bandage on a leg. Take that off. If you are out and about, and you do not have a muzzle with you, but you need to do something to your pets and they are trying to bite you, you may have something that you can make a muzzle out of, so an improvised muzzle. For example, if you do have a first aid kit, but you do not have a muzzle in it, you may have some bandage material. You can use this, you could use a scarf, you could use a slip lead, anything where you can create a loop and slide that loop over the nose of your dog, and then tighten it, you can use as a muzzle. So for this, for example, you would just pop that over Elsa's nose, tie it like that around and around the back of her head. And there you have an improvised muzzle. Do what you need to do and then you can take that muzzle off.

These are also quite useful in dogs if they are actively trying to bite you as you are putting the muzzle on because you do not have to get too close to them to do it. You can dangle that loop if it is big enough and just try and loop it around as you would with a slip lead around their nose and muzzle and then tighten it as necessary while they are trying to bite you. The use of muzzles are really handy, really useful to do a lot of things. However, you would never use them in a case where the dog had a wound or injury over its nose or potentially in its mouth as well. And you also would never do it if the dog was showing any breathing difficulties or struggling to breathe with the muzzle on, you would take it straight off because otherwise, it is going to be uncomfortable for them and cause them more anxiety and damage.