Checking your dog’s mouth – For most first aid procedures we need to do, we need to be able to examine our dog thoroughly and there’s a good chance that he may be in pain, frightened or disorientated. For this reason, it’s a good idea to teach your dog to acceptance a muzzle, just in case you ever need to deal with an emergency that is uncomfortable for him. Using good positive reinforcement techniques, you can get your dog used to wearing a muzzle quite quickly IF he associates it’s use with receiving lots of yummy treats and rewards. Once he is happy with the muzzle, it will be safer for you and less stressful for him in the future should the need ever arise.
There are occasions, however, when a muzzle is exactly the opposite of what we need – times when you need to look inside your dog’s mouth, say if he is choking, has wedged a piece of chew or something in his teeth at the back or perhaps you are worried that he has damaged a tooth or has hurt himself in some way.
Checking inside your dog’s mouth can be very difficult and dangerous, as a frightened dog will rarely be happy about you keeping his jaws apart – a good way of helping you get a good look starts with where abouts you position yourself. Sit him down facing away from you and stand with a foot either side of his bottom.
Once you have your dog in this position, it is much easier to open the jaws and see all the way to the back of the throat and also easily visualise the roof of the mouth
If he is not happy about you keeping his jaws apart, you can use the handle of a lead around his upper jaw to keep the mouth open or, if he has become unconscious, it is often helpful to use the centre from a roll of sellotape for a small breed or a rubber round ring chew toy for a larger breed, to wedge into his mouth and allow you to peer in.
A good pre-emptive tip is to get your dog used to you doing this regularly so that, in the instance of it being required for real, he is not freaked out by you subjecting him to an examination he has never experienced before.