March 04, 2020 Cats Dogs Responsible Pet Ownership

Muzzles: a Do or Don’t for Your Pet?

Dog in Muzzle Running on Grassy Field

Muzzles: a Do or Don’t for Your Pet?

Muzzles seemed to be last week’s topic. I was interviewed by Real Simple magazine for their monthly column The Vet Will See You Now. The topic of the interview was “Getting the most out of a visit to your veterinarian” and the interviewer shocked me with the question: “I have a muzzle for my dog, should I take it with me to a vet visit?” My answer: an emphatic yes!

A day or so later, a dog trainer was in my office with her own dog. She talked about one of her new initiatives with her puppy clientele: muzzle training. So, I thought I’d address the topic for this week’s blog post from a veterinarian’s perspective.

Muzzles are not mean

Some dogs bound into my office and sit nicely in front of the treat jar. Other dogs range from mildly unenthusiastic to fearful. While a well-filled treat jar goes a long way in converting a frightened dog to an enthusiastic dog, some dogs never warm up to the veterinarian’s office. To protect my staff and myself, and the reputation of the dog patient, a muzzle helps keep everyone safe, especially for procedures like a rectal examination.

I will admit that I’m generally uncomfortable asking about muzzles, because pet owners can take offense at my suggestion. And that’s why I am so thrilled when dog owners volunteer to muzzle their pup.

Turning the muzzle into a reward

The dog trainer’s plan to teach young dogs to wear muzzles is a novel thought and a good one. Dogs with their own muzzles can be taught to wear it for treats at home, associating the muzzle with something good, not something bad (like a rectal exam). The muzzle will smell familiar, fit well and that will earn it your dog’s stamp of approval.

A guard against the street buffet

The veterinarians at AMC spend a good deal of time retrieving and removing foreign objects like balls, toys and bones from patients’ stomachs and intestines. Just check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds if you don’t believe me! These items are often scarfed up on the streets of New York City. For dogs who are repeat offenders with consumption of foreign objects, we often recommend a basket muzzle be worn during outdoor walks to prevent snacks from the street buffet.

Cat muzzles?

I suspect most of my readers associate muzzles with dogs – think about poor Lady in Lady and the Tramp, who gets muzzled because of the manipulative Siamese cats. However, most veterinarians have cone-shaped cat muzzles these days. Cat muzzles typically cover the cat’s eyes, which can be very calming to a frightened feline.

If I have convinced you that muzzles can be a do and not a don’t for your pet, check with your veterinarian about what type of muzzle is best.

Tags: dogs, muzzles, pet safety, vet safety, visiting the vet,

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