Muzzling a dog is essential when the dog is hurt or terrified. For this reason, many vets, animal control officers and volunteers who help rescue hurt dogs by the side of the road keep a package of knee-high stockings in their glove compartments under the extra dog leash. If you don’t have a commercially made dog muzzle available, one knee-high nylon stocking is your next best dog muzzle.
The objective is to get the muzzle on the dog and then you can better inspect the dog’s injuries. If the dog is really frantic and attacking anyone, then you may have no choice but to call the police and keep an eye on the dog so the police or animal control officers can grab the dog with a noose on a pole.
But if the dog has come up to you and seems to be begging for help, put the muzzle on and then check to see what is wrong. It could be the dog has an injury that is difficult to see. But when touched, the dog can’t help from lashing out instinctively. It’s the same instinct that makes us swear a blue steak when we stub our toes in the dark.
What To Do
It’s always best to have someone hold the dog while you tie the muzzle on. However, a helper may not be necessary in certain situations. In any case, if the dog will let you pet its head, then it should allow you to tie a muzzle on. Place the material along the top of the dog’s nose and bend under the chin. Cross the ends and then take both ends to behind the dog’s head. Then, you tie the ends as securely as you can.
This will be exceptionally difficult in brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like Pekingese because they don’t have much of a jaw. If you think that putting the muzzle on will upset the dog further or if the dog is having severe breathing problems, then forget the muzzle put be prepared to take your chances. Dogs that have collapsed will not need to be muzzled. They need to be taken to the vet immediately because they may be going into shock.
Okay, perhaps you don’t happen to have a pair of nylons in the glove compartment. What other materials can you use for a dog muzzle in an emergency? According to “The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Dog’s Symptoms” (Villard; 1999), any soft, flexible material will do. Perhaps you have a necktie or a roll-on horse leg wrap. Worse comes to worse, use a T-shirt wrapped up into a tight long roll or a pair of long work socks.
“The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Dog’s Symptoms.” Michael S. Garvey, DVM, et al. Villard; 1999
“Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al. Howell Book House; 2007.
Pet Place.com. “How to Make and Place a Muzzle.” http://www.petplace.com/dogs/how-to-make-and-place-a-muzzle/page1.aspx
American Kennel Club. “Emergencies and First Aids.” http://www.akc.org/public_education/emergency.cfm