Responsible dog owners know that leaving a dog in a hot car is one of the most horrific things that can happen to a pet because they can succumb to fatal heat stroke within minutes. 90% of heat loss in dogs is achieved by panting, when inspired air enters through the nose but is expired through the mouth. This “tympanic flow” mechanism is very finely balanced and is their primary means of cooling down as air passes across a highly vascularised labyrinth of fine nasal bones called turbinates.
Muzzle use is on the rise
Thanks to educational programmes and pro-muzzle projects, the many reasons for muzzle use are becoming more widely understood. For example, muzzles are not only good for retraining aggressive dogs but for protecting wildlife and even to prevent unwanted scavenging. Some countries have enacted specific legislation requiring that dogs be muzzled in on public transport so in trains, buses and on ferries. But there are good and there are certainly bad designs of muzzles. The challenge is to know which is the safest and most suitable for your dog.
Our concern with sock or fabric muzzles
The nature of sock muzzle designs means that the dog’s mouth is essentially held shut and their ability to pant is thereby restricted. Even those that claim to allow extra room for panting still do not offer the freedom a dog needs to pant and so control his or her temperature. If worn for longer than just a few minutes, sock muzzles can cause serious harm to dogs, particularly on walks or any form of exercise, even a visit to the vets or groomers in warm weather could be life threatening. A normal body temperature for a dog is between 38.3°C and 39.2°C but an increase of just a few degrees can cause major distress and then rapid death.
So why are countless sock (fabric) muzzles still being sold in pet shops and online, worldwide?
Here at Company of Animals we, sadly, continue to meet owners who have opted for sock muzzles without realising their dangerous health implications. Whatever the reason for muzzling their dog, we understand that owners never intend to be cruel. Interestingly, when asked why this design was selected, many state that it is because they look less “intimidating” than basket muzzles. These are wrong choices that jeopardise the welfare and safety of dogs, to the extent Dr Mugford believes that sale of sock muzzles should be banned.
Let’s work together to educate our peers, stamp out muzzle stigma and see the end to these cruel designs.