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Why Choosing the Right Collar for Your Pet is Important: The Collar Dilemma

Updated: Jan 7

When we get our new family member, one of the first things we do is purchase special things for them like a bed, bowls, lead and collar.

Everything must be new and special for them. There are so many choices for everything. Pet related items are big business now - from groomers to accessories to food - it's not plain and simple anymore.

What is the role of the dog collar? It is not only to restrain but provides a place to attach the lead and identification as well as a fashion statement. But what else should we take into account when we are thinking of this basic piece of equipment?

Safety. It's paramount.

Safety for the dog at play. Safety for the dog that is unsupervised. If you google Collar Accidents you will be shocked at the stories. I know I was.

The reason I googled that term was because my dog was involved in an 'incident'.

My teen son and I were at home and we had just let the dogs out of the house to play. One was my dog Finn, a large 34kg fluff ball and the other was his friend who was visiting - probably 2/3's of Finn's size.

After they had been outside for just a few minutes, we heard this horrible noise like nothing I have heard before. We ran outside. I looked down the driveway and I saw Finn on the ground on his back and his friend over the top of him at his neck. I yelled at them but they didn't pull apart and when I got to them, I saw blood. I saw Finn underneath and his friend hunched over at Finn's neck - probably an inch or two away. I thought that Finn was being attacked but couldn't work out why they weren't separating, making a noise or bowling around. When we reached them they stopped still and were quiet. It was only seconds, but felt like minutes for us to work out what was really happening.

Finn's bottom jaw was wrapped in his friend's collar. Finn was bleeding. The only way to separate them was for me to lift them closer together to get the weight off the collar and jaw and for my son to unclip the collar. It was a struggle but we did it. I don't believe that it I would have done it without an extra pair of hands. The blood was from Finn's gums - the collar had cut into them. His friend looked okay and both dogs were quite subdued for days afterwards.

The next day one of the eyes of Finn's friend was very bloodshot. I called the vet, explained what happened and they said it was a result of near asphyxiation - ie strangulation. It was a close call.

I then looked up the term Collar Accident. Oh my. We were one of the lucky ones. Some very sad stories out there.

So what's the point of telling you this story?

To spread the word that these kinds of accidents are not uncommon. Once you start researching or talking about it you will find this out.

What can be done to prevent this from happening to your dog?

A few things actually. The most important action is to remove your dogs collar when they are at home or playing or are unsupervised because once you start googling, not only does this happen when dogs are playing with others but when dogs get caught on fences, branches etc. Yes, this brings up another dilemma - identification of your dog if they escape or go missing. An answer to this is make sure the microchip details are current.

Some people have recommended that you can get pull away collars. They have connections that pull apart more easily in case of getting caught up. Be aware though, that if you are trying to restrain your dog and it is wearing one of these that it will probably hinder your restraint and the dog could still get away, dart across the road etc. Read one person's recount of the tragic passing of her beloved dog, Ryder. This is just ONE story of so many. Of course, you may have had dogs for 40 years and NEVER had an issue. You should count yourself and your dogs lucky. I have had dogs in my life for this many years as well. I have had the above experience but also have heard of many near misses involving collars/tags being caught in heating vents, decks, fences etc. My own cousin (when I was a teen) came home to her red setter, deceased and hanging from their back fence. Just because it hasn't happened, doesn't mean it can't or won't. Just take precautions and be aware. That's the point of this article.

If you follow this link - it is an excellent article entitled "Collar Entrapment, Strangulation and CPCR Techniques for the Large Breed Dog" although much of the information is not just for large breeds. It is an American article so some of the equipment is also not relevant but I found it an excellent resource. I hope you do too.

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