dogs collars dangerous - use harness

Are Dog Collars Dangerous?

Are Dog Collars Dangerous?

The answer to that question is:  “Yes, Dog Collars Are Dangerous!”

Are you aware of the fact that putting a collar on your dog can actually present a real danger to your dog’s safety?

I find that most people think they are protecting their dog from getting lost should it run away or get out of their yard by putting a collar on their dog.  The collars hold their special identification and rabies tags to ensure that if someone were to find the dog that they would be able to find the owner and see that the dog was vaccinated.

However, sadly, what most people don’t realize is that in their efforts to protect their pet and “keep them safe”, they are actually putting their dog in danger of what can often be a fatal collar accident.

According to a survey from the North American Veterinary Conference in 2003, 91% of veterinarians reported having seen or heard of one to five dogs being injured or strangled by their collar within the that year alone. They also believed that only one in four dog owners knew the risks associated with putting a collar on their dog.

Walking with your canine companion is one of the best things you can do for both your own and the dog’s physical and emotional well-being. It can also strengthen the bond that you share. However, if you’re using a collar and using it improperly, you could be physically and/or emotionally harming your companion canine, often without you even knowing it.

Places Dogs May Get Caught

The most commonly reported strangulation-related collar accidents are listed below, in order of frequency:

Fence: This occurs when dogs are peering over, jumping over or digging/crawling under the fence and the collar gets caught.
Play: When dogs play with one another, they typically will mouth at each others necks. The dog’s lower jaw and teeth can easily get stuck on another dog’s collar. While they try to free themselves, one dog may suffocate, while the other is left with a broken jaw.
Crate: Statistically, this is just as common as play strangulation; it occurs when the identification tags get stuck in the bars of the crate.
Branch: While a dog may love romping through the woods, branches can easily snag the collar and strangle the dog, or puncture his neck area.
Heating/Cooling air vents: Like crate strangulation, the hanging identification tags can get stuck in air vents, and while the dog struggles, he ends up doing more harm than good.

Interesting Information about spinal injuries linked to wearing collars

Anders Hallgren conducted a chiropractic study in Sweden in 1992.

Dog Owners were offered a free examination of their dog by a Chiropractor in return for their voluntary participation.

The dogs in this study were considered well-cared so the study did not include dogs where owners would have abusive handling to hide. Those who volunteered to participate in the Study had mostly ordinary dogs, in that; owners presented them without any suspicion of spinal anomalies… Canine back problems are common.

The results of the Study show that the Chiropractors found back anomalies in 63% of the 400 dogs.

Dogs that ‘acted out’, in other words, that exhibited over activity and aggression; 78% had spinal anomalies. Spinal anomalies seem to constitute an irritation that often results in stress reactions, aggression or fear.

Did you know that the #1 reason why dogs are given up to shelters or rescues is due to behavior issues?  This most common reason is actually due to a miscommunication and lack of clear communication with training tools that harm the dog’s body coupled with a lack of understanding of how to naturally communicate or “train” them.

Mr. Halgren found that this was also in accordance with his own and his Students experience as Behaviorists, with problematic dogs.

The study showed that 252 of 400 dogs had misaligned spines, and 65% of the 252 with spinal problems also had behavioral problems. Only 30% of dogs without spinal injuries had behavioral problems. 78% of the dogs labeled aggressive or hyperactive had spinal problems.

63% of the dogs examined had neck and spinal injuries.

78% of the dogs with aggression or over activity problems had neck and spinal injuries.

Of the dogs with neck injuries, 91% had experienced hard jerks on a leash or had strained against their leashes. (1)

More research indicates that it only takes the weight of a dime to depress a nerve’s function by 50%. So, it’s understandable how a tug on a collar, especially a thin and/or narrow one could cause major pressure and trauma to a small area of the neck. If you catch the neck at a critical angle, you may even blow out or collapse a disc, causing nerve or muscle injury or worse.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association in 2006, pressure generated when dogs pull while wearing choke collars and/or even flat collars also raises the pressure in the eye. As a result, it may worsen the disease progression in dogs with glaucoma, thin corneas, and other eye conditions where the pressure in the eye is an issue.

Tracheal collapse has happened to dogs that have only worn a flat collar for leash walking. When on a leash, regular pressure from the collar,whether because the dog or the human pulls; is sadly, often at the root of this.

How many of you have heard the numerous stories of dog’s catching a tooth or teeth in another dog’s collar ring while playing? Or getting their tags caught the other dog’s mouth or collar or of tags getting caught on bushes or even in air vents?

A well known and respected collar and training equipment company found in a recent survey that 96% of Veterinarians report having seen or heard of a collar-related injury or death within the last year. That translates to thousands of suffering and/or dead dogs each year.

Dr. Erin O’Connor, an AVCA animal chiropractor and owner of Vitality Chiropractic Center, has seen many injuries due to collar use. One of the most common injuries that she has seen in her practice is musculoskeletal injury since the cervical spine and many muscles responsible for moving the head, neck, and front limbs are in that area. Sometimes this can translate into a forelimb limp due to injury to muscles that run through the neck and insert into the forelimb, or injury to one of the nerves, which runs from the cervical spine and through the front leg. If a dog is pulled in certain positions, it can also cause enough load on the spine for a disc injury.

Dr. O’Connor has also observed that many avid “pullers” develop thyroid issues or tracheal collapse. The reason for thyroid malfunction in dogs who pull is that the area of the neck that most collars put pressure on is just in front of the thyroid gland. As for tracheal collapse, the trachea runs through the neck, connecting the upper part respiratory system (the larynx and pharynx), to the lungs and can also receive micro-injures over time from collar pressure causing damage. In addition, cervical spine injuries can manifest as neurological conditions such as seizures, ataxia, and paralysis due to causing dysfunction of the nervous system.

Some of these injuries are recoverable, some are not, so as prevention to injury, she advocates for harness use in her patients. Harnesses give the ability to walk your dog on leash without putting stress on the crucial structures of the neck, which include the cervical spine, neck musculature, thyroid, trachea, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. Even if a dog pulls while wearing a harness, there is a great amount of osseous protection and support to not cause injury or health issues in your dog. She also recommends seeking out chiropractic care for your pet to help prevent health issues if you have used a collar, whether or not they are displaying symptoms currently. A directory of animal chiropractors can be found at

As an animal naturopath and long time natural rearing dog breeder, I have always advocated the use of a harness over collars and Tattoos over microchips or tags.  (Subject for a future article.)

The harness I use and often recommend is the Walk In Sync Harness . This harness is soft and comfortable and will never choke or harm your puppy or dog ever again!

The evolutionary design is modeled after a Principle of Physics which states that: “the further away energy travels on a fulcrum the more energy you have to use to bring it back.



(1)Published In The:”Animal Behaviour Consultants Newsletter” July,1992 V.9 No 2D

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