Dog Strangulation By Collar is Real
We probably both agree that dogs should always wear their collars with a current ID tag, but wearing dog collars in certain situations can be hazardous. For years, I firmly believed dogs should always wear collars until one day when my dog’s ID tag got caught between the wires of his crate.
Now, understand, I didn’t leave him in his crate with a collar on. He chose to lie next to his crate when his ID tag became entangled within the wires of his crate. When it happened, he freaked out! Thank goodness we were home to hear his panicked screams and frantic sounds from pulling against his crate; he was choking himself. It took two people to free him from his collar; my husband and I had to cut the collar off of him. From that day forward, he never walked into that room again—ever.
Dog Collar Accidents are More Common Than You Think
Freak accidents happen or so I thought. After this incident, I needed to find out if dogs strangled by collars was common or if they were just freak accidents. Well, we found out we weren’t alone.
It seems dog collars get caught in many things, and strangulation by collar has even caused some dogs to lose their lives. Dog collars getting caught or stuck happens so often that large pet retail companies created break-away collars to prevent this from happening. One thing I know for sure is large companies won’t spend thousands of dollars creating a new item unless it fills a buying niche. Their research was certainly alarming.
Please understand: I’m not saying your dog will strangle himself from wearing a collar; I’m saying it’s possible your dog can become strangled by his collar and taking a few steps to make sure it doesn’t happen to your dog is worth its weight in gold.
15% of My Clients Have Experienced Dog Strangulation by Collar
As a dog trainer, I speak with clients about their dogs every day and I’ve found dog strangulation by collar does happen. On average, I would say 15% of my clients had a similar incident with a dog collar getting caught on the wires of their dogs’ crate, fence, furniture, and even while playing with another dog.
Dog Accidentally Strangled By Collar During Playtime
The first time I heard of a dog being strangled by a collar, it was 20 years ago and happened while two dogs were playing together. Both dogs were wearing collars when one dog playfully pulled on the other dog’s collar. Her muzzle suddenly became tangled in the other dog’s collar. Well, the tangled dog panicked and started pulling away, which caused the other dog (the one wearing the tangled collar around his neck) to choke. His collar was strangling him. Thankfully, someone nearby had a pocket knife and cut the tangled collar, which freed both dogs. What a horrifying situation.
Strict Collar Removal Policies Set
Many pet-related businesses have strict rules on removing collars in certain situations. While working as a veterinary technician, it was mandatory to remove all collars from any patient kenneled—even during a hospital stay. Large retail grooming chains also have strict polices requiring dog collars to be removed before dogs are placed in their kennels. Their collars are then placed in a plastic sleeve outside of the dogs’ crates. While working in the pet grooming industry, I saw many grooming employees terminated when they failed to follow this policy. Needless to say there certainly is a trend in dog collar accidents.
When Should Dogs Wear Collars?
Dogs should wear a collar under supervision only. That means you should take your dog’s collar off whenever he’s crated, playing with another dog or left unsupervised in your home. It’s just not worth the risk.
If You Must, Use a Break-Away Collar
If you’re not comfortable with your dog running around naked (i.e. no collar), there are a couple of break-away collars on the market. Break-away collars look and feel just like regular flat buckle collars and feature a spot for ID tags too. The difference is break-away collars will unsnap and free your dog when it snags onto something.
Over the last 15 years, break-away collars have vastly improved. Back in the day, the break-away mechanism was super sensitive. If a dog sneezed while wearing this collar, his collar would unsnap. As of today, break-away collars are a great safety option. Most are versatile and have two D-rings that can be used during leash walks, which disables the break-away option. Once the leash is removed, the break-away collar option is in place.
Get Your Dog Microchipped
The main reason dogs wear a collar is to carry ID tags with their pet owners’ contact information. If our dog should become lost, we hope a good Samaritan will find our dog and contact us using the information on our dog’s ID tags. Collars and ID tags work, but it’s not a bulletproof option, so please microchip your dog. Collars can be taken off and ID tags can be lost, but a microchip is underneath your dog’s skin. It can’t be removed. I can’t say enough good things about microchips; they’re absolutely invaluable.
Have you had a scary dog collar accident? Please share your story below, so we can all learn together!