Any dog might need to wear a muzzle at some point. Muzzle training makes wearing a muzzle stress-free and even fun for the dog. Resources for training a dog to love a muzzle are linked at the end of this article.
Why Dogs Wear Muzzles
Muzzles can be incredibly useful. Wearing a muzzle doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog is aggressive. A muzzle is just another tool to help keep dogs and people safe. These are some of the many reasons a dog might use a muzzle:
Choosing a Muzzle
The type of muzzle to look for is a basket muzzle. Correctly fitted basket muzzles don’t hold a dog’s mouth shut, so a dog wearing a basket muzzle can pant, drink water, and take treats.
Don’t buy a cloth muzzle like the ones sometimes used for dog grooming and veterinary procedures. Cloth muzzles keep the dog’s mouth closed, so these muzzles are not safe for dogs to wear for more than a few minutes and can also be stressful for dogs.
Basket muzzles come in various styles, materials, and colors. Some are made of flexible rubber; muzzles made of wire offer more bite protection. Muzzles for specific breeds (like greyhounds) and custom-made muzzles for dogs with hard-to-fit faces are also available.
The fit of the muzzle is crucial, so you’ll need to measure your dog’s face according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Estimate the measurement if your dog might bite when his face is touched.) A basket muzzle should be long enough to avoid rubbing the tip of the nose but not so long that it hits the dog’s eyes, and it should be deep enough to let the dog open his mouth wide to pant. A basket muzzle deep enough to allow for full panting will probably look huge when the dog’s mouth is closed, but this is the correct fit.
The muzzle should have lots of openings for air flow. Some basket muzzles have large holes for treats; others have smaller gaps in front of the nose to keep dogs from eating things they shouldn’t.
Muzzle Training Basics
Dogs accept muzzles most readily if the training involves yummy treats and is done gradually over weeks. Dogs who are already afraid of muzzles need extra training steps and more time; don’t hesitate to seek help from a positive-reinforcement trainer.
Watch your dog’s body language throughout training to be sure she’s happy and relaxed. If at any point your dog avoids the muzzle, you’re moving too fast. Back up a couple of steps and proceed more slowly.
1. Arhant C, Schmied-Wagner C, Aigner U, Affenzeller N. Owner reports on use of muzzles and their effects on dogs; an online survey. J Vet Behav. 2021;41:73-81. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2020.07.006
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Ear mites are common in cats and dogs. They cause significant ear itching and inflammation and are contagious between animals.
In cats, ear mites are the most common cause of external ear disease. Ear mites affect dogs too, but external ear disease in dogs is more often caused by allergies.
Ear mites (Otodectes cyanotis) are tiny parasites similar to the mites that cause mange. They live in the ears and are sometimes also found on skin elsewhere on the body. Ear mites feed on natural skin debris like ear wax. They stay on the skin surface and don’t burrow into the skin, unlike some other mites.
Ear mites spread easily through close contact between animals. People are not thought to be at risk from cat and dog ear mites. It’s possible but very rare for ear mites to affect humans.
The signs of ear mites are similar to the signs of ear infections caused by bacteria and yeast. Animals can have ear mites without showing any symptoms, but most animals have these signs:
Bacterial and yeast ear infections cause signs similar to ear mites, so don’t assume that a cat or dog with itchy ears has ear mites. An animal with suspected ear mites should see a veterinarian to look for ear mites and rule out other ear problems that would need a different type of treatment. Some animals have ear mites and a bacterial or yeast ear infection at the same time.
Ear mites are easiest to see with magnification, either in a sample of ear debris under a microscope or through an otoscope inserted into the ear (if the animal’s ears aren’t too painful). Sometimes the mites are visible in ear debris without magnification; they look like pinpoint white specks that move.
In the past, treating ear mites meant instilling an oily liquid into the animal’s ears daily for about 3 weeks. This type of product is still available over the counter without a prescription, but don’t use an over-the-counter remedy without first taking your pet to see a veterinarian. Newer prescription products kill ear mites more quickly, some in only 1 or 2 doses, and some don’t require putting drops directly into the ears. Because ear mites are contagious, it’s best to treat all dogs and cats in the household.
For More Information
See these links for more information and photos of ear mites:
Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The contents of this blog are for information only and should not substitute for advice from a veterinarian who has examined the animal. All blog content is copyrighted by Mallard Creek Animal Hospital and may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted, or distributed without permission.