Wrong dog collar my be dangerous. By John M. Pacy, D.V.M. Special to the Palm Beach Post
Several Sundays ago I visited the Okeeheelee Dog Park in West Palm Beach. There were about a dozen or so dogs running around playing and wrestling with each other while their owners mingled about under the gazebo watching them play.
As a veterinarian with a special interest in “home safety and accident prevention” the first thing I noticed was that virtually every dog at the park that day was wearing a collar or a collar and a choke chain combo. While this sounds perfectly normal, it is actually a very dangerous situation. In an instant, two dogs wrestling with each other could become tangled together in a collar. And if they are big dogs it could be very difficult to rescue them before one or both are injured.
I learned the hard way about collar hazards six years ago when my dog Nikki got tangled in my neighbor’s dog’s collar. The two big dogs were wrestling in my backyard one night when it happened. Nikki’s jaw slipped under Rusty’s collar. Rusty panicked and flipped over, twisting the collar around Nikki’s lower jaw. Nikki was screaming in pain while Rusty’s windpipe was closed off and he couldn’t breath.
Fortunately, I was home when it happened, and even more important, Rusty’s collar was the “snap” type and not a buckle collar or choke chain. I jumped into the melee and was able to free the dogs pretty quickly. Near a panic myself, I quickly examined both dogs who, Thank God, were not seriously injured.
Had Rusty’s collar been a different type, I never would have been unable to unbuckle it, as it was twisted very tightly. Or if it had been a choke chain, I never would have been able to lift up and flip over an 80 lb., panic-stricken dog to untangle them.
Thousands of dogs are injured or killed in collar strangulation accidents every year. And in addition to two dogs getting tangled together, buckles or tags can get caught on fencing, furniture or chair legs, in heating vents, or on branches. Or, a dog can snag the collar when jumping up by a fence or fence post, door handle, or tree or branch.
To make matters worse, even short bouts of airway obstruction can result in a serious complication called “non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema”. This is were the lungs fill up with fluid as in heart disease, but it is much harder to treat and doesn’t respond to medications very well. So, even if the dog survives a near strangulation, it may still suffer a fatal complication from it shortly afterwards.
The only collar that I recommend keeping on a dog all of the time, and especially while playing with other dogs at a dog park, is the KeepSafe Break-Away Collar. This collar has a special clasp that is designed to release if the dog gets the collar caught on something and starts to struggle. The safety clasp can also be temporarily disabled so that the dog can be walked securely with a leash.