While the leash is only put on as-needed, for many dogs, the collar is a round-the-clock accessory. So making sure it’s safe critical, something many pet owners fail to research.
Why? Because while a pet’s collar is in fact functional — it carries important identification and rabies information and provides a quick ‘handle’ should someone need to grab hold of a wayward pup — it can also come with some scary health hazards that many pet owners are unaware of.
According to PetSafe, more than 26,000 collar-related injuries occur each year, equating to 71 dogs per day being injured by their own collar.
Read on for ways to protect your furry friend.
1. Fur mats
Who doesn’t love a big, fluffy dog? But when that cuddly fur stays squashed under a collar, mats develop. Daily brushing, or using a rolled leather collar, can help avoid the problem, but the easiest solution for the fluff-monster is to keep a collar off when not needed. Kept attached to the leash instead, you have all-in-one access at walk time.
That dog lazing outside on his deck doesn’t look like he’s in any danger. But while he’s snoozing, the tags on his collar could slip between the deck boards, rendering him immobilized when he tries to get up. Many dogs have been stuck when collar tags become lodged in small openings, such as heating and air conditioning vents or even crate walls. If the dog is home alone, the situation can be even more dangerous.
Keep your dog safe – particularly when home alone – by keeping his collar off, or using a tag-free style, which engraves or embroiders his information right on the collar or hardware. Another benefit: no more jingling!
3. Mouth play
Dogs love to play with each other, and mouthing each other is a big part of their fun. But a common mishap occurs when one dog’s tooth gets trapped in another dog’s collar buckle or tag loop. Because this creates panic in the two entangled dogs, it becomes dangerous to the humans attempting to free them. Dogs that are prone to mouth play may benefit from a breakaway style collar.
4. Outdoor wanderings
If you have a fenced in yard where your dog is safe to wander about on his own, sticks, branches or brush can slip under his collar. Trying to wiggle his way out often causes her to become jammed further. Consider a breakaway style collar for this risk, as well, if your pup is prone to exploring.
Don’t forget microchips
You may think that since your dog wears a collar, he doesn’t need a microchip.
According to the Humane Society, microchips offer an important extra level of protection. The microchip is a computer chip, similar in size to a grain of rice, embedded under a dog’s skin between his shoulder blades. The process is simple, similar to giving an immunization. Once it’s in place, you register the chip with your contact information, and update it any time you move or travel. Thereafter, a veterinary office, shelter or animal control organization anywhere can scan the chip and find out where your dog calls home.
Because it’s often safer to keep your dog’s collar off when he’s at home, that does leave him at risk of seizing the moment and slipping out an open door or window, sans identification. Even with a collar on, it could open up or slip off, or the tags can become worn out fall off. With a microchip, he’s always identifiable.
While a collar is a necessary item for most dog, gives some thought into your dog’s habits and lifestyle, then choose the safest option. And don’t forget that extra means of security by getting your dog microchipped!
Dr. Katy Nelson is the mother of five – two human and three animal – kids, an avid nutrition and fitness enthusiast, and an admittedly rabid Louisiana sports fan. She is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA., as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. A Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ), Dr. Katy is the Animal Health Reporter for ABC7 News, and serves as “Dr. Pawz” on WTOP Radio. Dr. Katy is also a founding partner of PetsMove.org, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs, and serves as a media and marketing consultant for numerous pet-related companies and media outlets.
A lover of all animals, Dr. Katy carves out time for many charitable organizations in the DC area and beyond. She is also the co-executive producer on “Tell Them I Am Kind,” a documentary set to air on the PBS Broadcasting network in 2015. The documentary tells the story of the family of Catherine Violet Hubbard, one of the 20 children killed in December of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their mission to build an animal sanctuary in her honor.