Dog collars and the dangers they pose to your pets

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By Daniel Aremu,

It is uncommon these days to see a dog without colllar, from the fancy ones to the training collars, which comes in different sizes, shapes, colour and even material. Most dog owners choose the collar because of their personal preferences and not necessarily because their pets require it. You need to choose the collar that best suits the need and character of your dog

While they may be widely available in pet stores or online, there are some collars that may prove very harmful to your dogs.

1. Flat collars: These are the commonest, which run across the neck of the dog and possesses a buckle. They are most times non-extendable; the only way of adjusting the size is by putting the buckle on a different hole which helps put the collar in place. Hence, this collar retains it’s size on the neck of the dog.

These are designed for dogs who live an active lifestyle and are prone to getting away out of their collars. However extremely energetic, playful dogs when being leashed can suffocate themselves when hooked on something or too much pressure on their trachea from a tight collar as seen in some emergency cases veterinarians have handled.

There may be skin irritations or wounds if these collars are tightly fitted to a dog’s neck via abrasion when such dogs pulls on a leash. This type of collar should not be used by brachycephalic dogs (smushed faced-dogs) e.g bull dogs, pugs, shih tzus, chow chow, bull mastiffs, pekingese at any point as they have a short rounded head with small muzzle. This makes their upper jaw smaller and compressed which in turn affects their respiratory system.

Flat collars or any neck collars should be avoided in these dogs, as using neck collar may put more stress on an already compromised breathing or cause eyes bulging out of the socket as a result of excessive pressure in the eye, resulting from the pressure generated when these dogs pull such collar.

2. Breakaway collar: This may look like the flat collar, but it is safer and most commonly worn for cats. It is designed to allow your dogs play without the risk of being strangled. It has a quick release fastener that helps remove the collar as fast as you need to. They also have slightly different sizing mechanism compared to the flat collar as these collars can be adjustably fitted snugly on the dog’s neck; not too tight or too loose. However, this collar is easier to lose as dogs may easily wriggle their way out of them. Imagine walking your dog and he or she gets loose after slight pull on the leash or a mistake press on the fastener or if fitted loosely on the dog. The rule of thumb for flat and break away collars is that one should be able to get two to three fingers underneath them easily.

3. Martingale collar: This looks like a mix of a flat collar and break free collar. It is worn by loosening the collar and slipping it over the dog’s head, the straps are adjusted to tighten the collar on the dog’s neck but the collar has an extra designed strap, which the metal ring for the leash can be hooked on.

This prevents dogs from backing out of the collar and effective in walking dogs and training, as the pressure of the collar is distributed evenly because of the seperate loop of strap which passes through two rings. The leash attaches to this loop which is contrary to regular collar, which the pressure is placed in front of the neck. These are designed for dogs with larger necks than head, which they can easily slip out of regular collars, e.g hounds

4. Choke chain: As the name implies this is used to train “difficult” dogs with correction. They are used as aversive collars to give some level of physical discomfort to teach a dog on what such is not meant to do. Made with metal link and designed to control dogs by tightening around the neck.

There is no way to control how much choke the chain tightens so it is possible to choke or strangle your dog by yourself. This can cause so many injuries to the dog’s trachea or oesophagus and blood vessels. It can cause neck sprains, transient paralysis or death. It should be considered inhumane and there are better ways of commanding obedience in the training of dogs.

5. Harness: This is not a collar, but the safest alternative to some of the collars. This is the best to be used in brachycephalic dogs eg pug, french bull dogs as mentioned earlier. Harness is designed to be worn on the dog around their chest and neck. It is not possible for a dog to slip out and also gives more control over a dog when pulling, it doesn’t exert any pressure on the neck hence no risk of choking or strangling or any neck injuries.

It could be uncomfortable for dogs if they are too tight or when not properly fitted, some dogs may develop sores at the armpit area if the dog is reacting to the fabric the harness is made of, or if worn for too long and tight. Some owners may find it very difficult to get this on a dog that does not want it.


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