Muzzle is Not a Dirty Word

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Sometimes when asked how work is going, I answer, “Not too bad. I still have all ten fingers.” It’s my poor attempt at a joke, but I’ve realized that a lot of people unfamiliar with veterinary medicine ask if that’s really a risk of the job. Although we have countless wonderful pets that walk through our doors, the reality is that some patients are more difficult – and more dangerous – to handle than others. So yes, there really is some inherent risk in working with animals.

muzzleThe reason I wanted to discuss this is that some people think when we muzzle a dog, it’s cruel. It’s not. It’s a matter of safety. We all love animals and love the patients we work with, but that doesn’t mean we’re willing to take a trip to the emergency room instead of muzzling your pet. There are many reasons we use muzzles when dealing with patients beyond the obvious case of an aggressive dog. Even the sweetest dog has the potential to bite if they are in severe pain, so most painful patients are given a muzzle as a precaution. Some dogs that pose no threat to bite are simply calmer when they are wearing a muzzle. It’s difficult to draw blood from a wiggly dog, but many become more stationary with a muzzle. Many exams and treatments become a lot quicker when a nervous dog is muzzled, so we can get that dog back to the comfort of home much sooner.

I can personally relate to owners whose dog requires a muzzle because I am one of those owners! My dog cannot stand his nails being trimmed. He can be a real pain – and quite honestly, a danger – to anyone trying to trim his nails. But, when he is wearing a muzzle, he’s a completely different dog. He is more relaxed and less active making the procedure less stressful for him and easier for us. The muzzle allows us to give him a much quicker, better, and safer nail trim – a win for everyone!

So, if your dog requires a muzzle, it’s not something to be embarrassed by. If the appointment is easier, quicker, and less stressful for your dog (and you), then the muzzle is definitely a good thing!

Dr. Miller
Lakewood Animal Hospital