We put collars on our dogs with the best intentions – for their security, to be able to hold them if something dangerous comes up, as a tracker if they get lost, and even as a fashion detail. But as it usually happens, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and dog collar accidents aren't that uncommon.
What we sometimes do not consider about placing a collar around dog's neck, is that we are putting our poets at a potential risk of strangulation, laceration and, possibly, death, if not done right or when using the wrong collar. This is one of the things that don’t always cross our minds before it’s too late and it happens to our own or somebody else’s dog.
Before we take a look at possible ways to prevent dog collar accidents, let’s first take a look at how often they happen and why.
How Often Dog Collar Accidents Happen?
Even though (fortunately) you didn’t experience this, it doesn’t mean these accidents do not happen or that they're rare. Quite to the contrary, North America Veterinary Conference found that in only one year, around 91% of the veterinarians confirmed that they saw or heard that one to five dogs were injured or died of injuries made by a collar in the previous year.
This devastating statistics is further emphasized when they also confirmed that only around 25% of the dog owners actually knew about the issues which can arise from putting a collar and all the wrong ways to do it. And if this is not enough for you to be alarmed, Daily Dog Discoveries underlines that around 26000 dogs are injured or die every year due to collar accidents.
In our article on the dangers of collars and safety of no-pull harnesses, we've also reviewed a number of scientific studies about the dangers of collars. The most common accidents were damage to dog's neck and trachea, something that's never been an issue with harnesses.
How They Happen
Dog collar accidents are more common than you probably think they are, and some of those reasons why (indicated below) they happen have been observed by trainers and veterinarians more often. However, it's not limited to this and more possible dangers are also out there.
Playing with other dogs
When the dogs are playing, they are sniffing, mouthing, chasing or wrestling with other dogs. Often the other dog also has a collar on which can lead to the stuck tooth or tongue at the other dog’s collar buckle, or the two buckles getting intertwined.
While people in a similar situation would slow down and try to disentangle the parts which are holding them together, the dogs would panic and start pulling from each other. If one’s teeth are stuck at it, it can cause severe injuries of the jaw or tongue, scratches, deep cuts and fractures. To the dog who is wearing the collar, pulling on it can cause strangulation within moments.
Buckle gets caught
While running freely through the woods or fields, dog’s buckle can get caught into something heavy or immobile, like above-ground roots or playground toys. If we don’t find him quickly, he will start pushing and pulling until he creates injuries around his neck. Similar situations can happen even in home environments, such as collar getting caught on a furniture or on dog crate wires (which is why you should always take it off first).
Name tag gets stuck
Dog's name tag is particularly important when it comes to our pets going missing, so we put it on for their protection. But, they can be a dangerous piece of equipment since it dangles around our dog’s neck and can be pulled through many narrow passages and places.
The most common cases are the name tag being stuck in fences, tree branches, crate wires or ventilation passages. Again, this can cause laceration, and in the most unfortunate cases strangulation of your dog.
ALSO READ: 32 Best No-Pull Dog Harnesses
6 Ways to Prevent Dog Collar Accidents
Now that we are fully aware of a wide range of dog collar accidents and what collar injuries do happen to pets, let’s take a look at the ways to prevent this.
1. Take It Off and Limit Its Use
Whenever possible, take the collar off your dog, especially in your own backyard and definitely at home, and let your pooch run freely.
Also, as much as possible, try using the dog harness, or even a no-pull harness, instead of a collar since it is much less dangerous as it can go around their backs instead of a neck, and has fewer sharp parts. The dangers of strangulation are reduced.
2. Be Aware
Be constantly aware of your dog’s surroundings when playing outside with other dogs wearing collars. This might be exhausting, but it is a good way of preventing a fatal outcome.
Make friends with other people who brought their dogs to the park or playground. In that way you could share the responsibility over watching your pets.
3. Buy a Break-away Collar
In 1995, Tenney Mudge invented a Keepsafe Break-Away Collar following the death of her own dog due to collar strangulation. Today, there are many other brands of similar breakaway dog collars that serve the exact same purpose.
The main feature of this and other break-away dog collars is that it has an automatic release point when the pressure is exercised. So if the dog starts pulling on it, the collar will drop from the neck letting your pup free. The mechanism works only when the dog walks on his own, because when you put the leash on, the safety clip is disabled.
4. Avoid Dangling Name Tags
Buy a pet name tag that can be attached to the collar without dangling around. Some collars have a pre-maid place for putting a name tag, while others are simple, plastic name tags (they're not as attractive but they're safer).
You can also try embroidering the name on the collar; it will be safe and attractive at the same time.
5. Carry a Sharp Object
When going for a walk with your dog, carry some small sharp object with you, such as a knife or scissors. This is definitely not a perfect solution, because it doesn’t help prevention but only the reaction to the problem.
If your dog’s collar gets stuck somewhere, you will be able to cut it and let him free before something worse happens. This understandably means that you have to keep a close eye on your dog and be ready to react at any moment.
6. Talk About It
As previously mentioned, not many dog owners are aware of the possible collar perils and all the different types of dog collar accidents. If you inform them about what can happen to their pets, they might think about a safer option for their dogs. You can be an important factor in saving the dogs from a lot of pain, and even saving their lives.
Dog collars are definitely part of a package deal which comes with having a dog and one of the most popular purchased products by dog owners. Yet, they can be a very dangerous piece of equipment leading to tragic accidents when not fit right, when not using the right collar and simply when unpredictable accidents happen.
They can be prevented from happening by avoiding them when possible, buying safer collars and name tags, using dog harnesses instead of collars whenever possible, carrying something sharp and informing others about the necessary steps.
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