A muzzle is an important restraining device for any pet that may be ill or injured. Muzzles are designed to protect people from bite injuries when an ill or injured animal must be transported or examined.
Many types of muzzles are available and they can usually be purchased at your local pet store. For dogs, there are basket/cage muzzles, cloth or nylon muzzles and leather muzzles. Sometimes, a hard-sided Elizabethan collar with proper restraint can have the same effect as muzzling. For cats, nylon face muzzles are available.
Materials around the house can be used as muzzles for most dogs with a medium to longer snout (these are typically difficult to use for cats or dogs with very short noses like pugs). A leash, rolled gauze, sock or even shirt sleeve can be wrapped once around the mouth and tied behind the ears if a commercial muzzle is not available.
Any muzzle placed on an animal should not limit their breathing in any way. It may prevent them from open-mouth panting for short periods of time, but should not restrict breathing. A muzzle that completely closes the mouth should not be placed on an animal with nasal discharge of any kinds as it may restrict breathing. If an animal appears to have difficulty breathing, the muzzle should be immediately removed.
Muzzles should also be used with caution for any pet that may be sick enough to vomit. If abdominal contractions, retching or other sounds of vomiting begin, the muzzle should be removed immediately because if the animal vomits, and the material (vomitus) cannot pass out of the mouth easily, it’s possible the animal may choke on the material or aspirate vomitus into the lungs.
Cats can be a little more difficult to muzzle. Commercial cat muzzles cover the face, with a small hole in front for them to breathe through and velcro connections in the back. With a little creativity, one can create a muzzle for a cat at home. A small plastic cup can be used as a muzzle. Two holes must be made just under the top rim, small enough for some gauze or string to pass through and tie. The cup is placed (widest portion first) over the cat’s face and the string tied behind the head. This will allow the cat to see.
Regardless of the type, you should be able to remove a muzzle quickly and easily. When used properly, muzzles can be helpful restraining devices for protecting people from an animal that is ill, aggressive or in pain.