Most of us don't give much thought to the possibility that our dog could be strangled to death, but it happens more often than you might think.  I have two clients who have experienced this possibility recently, both under very different circumstances.

Strangulation can occur if your dog's collar is tightened around their neck, cutting off their air supply. How does this happen? It can happen if your dog's collar gets caught on a fence, crate, tree branch or any other object. If the dog panics, and tries to get loose, but gets further tangled, the dog panics even more and can end up strangling himself. If your dog is playing with another dog and the other dog's jaws get caught in your dog's collar, both dogs might panic and your dog could be strangled. If your dog is wearing a choke chain or other collar that can be tightened but has no mechanism to stop before it cuts off your dog's air supply, your dog can be strangled.

For one of my clients, her dog was playing with another dog. Both dogs had their collars on, but no one was there supervising their play. The other dog's mouth got caught in my client's dog's collar. Fortunately, she heard a cry and ran out to see what was happening. She managed to get the collar off just in time. The vet said if it had been a minute more, her dog might not have survived. Fortunately, her dog is now fine, but it was a very scary and dangerous situation.

For another client, she had her dog at a groomer for a routine grooming appointment. Upon her dog's return, she noticed the dogs eyes were red and did not look right. A quick trip to the vet confirmed her suspicions that her dog had been partially strangled. The groomer neither confirmed nor denied what had happened to her dog, but the groomer made comments about her dog being difficult to groom. Needless to say, her dog will never return to that groomer.

Dogs with collars on can be strangled, and it can happen when you least suspect it. While collars with ID can provide a degree of safety if your dog becomes lost, there is also a risk that a collar could strangle your dog in the wrong situation. Use caution and weigh your risks. I do not leave my dog's collar on when he is crated. I prefer to have collars off when my dogs are playing, but if they are, I am certain to be there supervising closely in case of a problem. I never use choke chains or other collars that could tighten and strangle my dogs. I make certain that when collars are used, I fit them properly so they are neither too loose (and more likely to get caught on something) nor too tight that they cut off the air supply.

Consider using a Break-away collar or a harness to further prevent strangulation possibilities. If using a regular buckle-type collar, consider using one with a buckle that can easily and quickly be released rather than the metal kind you have to tighten a bit to unhook. Keep your dogs safe!


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