Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The dangers of dog and cat collars, by Dr. David Rousseau

Paracord dog collar, martingale style in Solar Orange
Photo by Akyra
(Click to see original.)
Fall has come to New England, and we hopefully don’t have to worry about cars overheating with dogs trapped inside. But as I passed a car parked under a shady tree with a dog in the cargo area just this week, I was reminded of another danger of dogs in the car…collars. I have no idea how many dogs are injured by collars each year. I do know that as a practicing vet, I always warned my clients of the potential dangers.

Collars serve many purposes for our furry friends. Fashion, control, restraint, training, identification…these are great purposes for collars. But collars can be dangerous.

Many years before I was a veterinarian, I worked with in a restaurant with a cook who wanted a German shepherd puppy desperately. She was thrilled when she finally purchased the beautiful purebred dog, and she was enamored of that gorgeous puppy. She even brought it to work and left it in her truck, uncrated but collared. She could visit it and take it out throughout the evenings. One night, as the shift drew to a close, we heard the most horrific scream from the kitchen. We all raced through the swinging doors, and we were greeted with the unimaginable. There stood my sobbing friend with her lifeless puppy in her arms. The puppy had fallen from the front seat and the collar caught on the handle of the window crank. I will never forget that tragic night, and have told that story a million times as a reminder. No collars in the unattended vehicle. And never, ever leave a choke collar on!

If you are going to leave your dog in the car, even for a few minutes, take off the collar. Most collars have a heavy duty snap, so they are easy to on and off. Consider purchasing one for just such car rides. The same goes for crating. I have seen dogs trapped by tag on a collar to the outside of a crate. While the outcome was not grim, the puppy had been trapped for some time. It could have been a tragedy. No collars in the crate.

As just mentioned, collar tags can increase the risk of problems. Name tags, rabies tags, identification tags…the jingle through the house can be a sweet and reassuring sound. But they can be hazardous. A good friend who lives in the country, and is an experienced dog owner, had her young Springer Spaniel out walking off leash. The rabies tag was dangling from the collar. The dog ducked under the electric horse fence, and she managed to somehow catch the slightly opened “s” hook on the live wire. She instantly went into panic mode, biting wildly and screaming madly as her mother tried to get her collar off. Her mother got severely bitten in the panic, and required hospitalization. Be sure all tags are safely secured so they cannot get trapped, and use an easy off collar if your dog is off leash to avoid them ever getting trapped.

Collars and tags are a necessary and useful part of dog life, but we humans have to be very mindful of the dangers they can pose. Being aware and taking precautions are the key to using them safely.

Blog Written by:
Dr. David Rousseau
Click here for Dr. David's Bio and Contact information
Dr. David assists families with in home hospice and euthanasia in the greater Boston, Mass area including
~ Cape Anne ~ The North Shore  ~ Beverly ~ Manchester-by-the-sea ~ Gloucester ~ Hamilton ~ Wenham ~ Rockport
~ Ipswich ~ Salem ~ Danvers

Blog posted by Vet Mary Gardner

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