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Dog Collars Can Injure

The neck and cervical spine are one of the most important energy channels in the body.
If the flow of energy between the head and the neck is interrupted or restricted, a variety of problems may arise, from lameness to skin problems, allergies and even cancer.

The choke chains are regarded  – from the old school of dog training – as the standard “anti-pulling” equipment, thus unfortunately a lot of people still use them.
It is important to say here that if you use this equipment for teaching a dog not to pull, once removed, you may be very disappointed.

Actually the best way to stop the “pulling”, is by starting an appropriate education, as soon as you bring your puppy at home.
Teach the young puppy on-leash walking indoors, where there is no other stimuli apart from you, with a shock absorbing leash. All type of collars can cause immense physical damage to an adult dog, when he pulls.

Oesophageal and tracheal damage, paralysis of the laryngeal nerve, lesions of eye blood vessels, hypothyroidism, are just a few.

Dogs subjected to choke-chains or even standard collars – if they are strong pullers – they have bulging red eyes and blue tongues, because their blood and air supply are being restricted through the tightness of the collar.
The symptoms may be low energy, weight gain, skin problems, hair loss, a tendency for ear infections and organ failure to name a few.
But there is also evidence of muscle and tissue damage.


The dog collar pushes on the throat exactly where the thyroid gland is situated.
In 2011, Anders Hallgren studied the connection between problem behaviour and back problems in dogs and concluded that:
“The soft tissue at the front of the throat could also be injured, depending on how you handle the leash.”
The thyroid gland gets severely traumatized whenever a dog pulls on the leash, thus hypothyroidism may be related to collar injuries.
When he is inflamed he gets “destroyed” by the body’s own immune system, in the effort to remove the inflamed thyroid cells.
The destruction of the thyroid gland cells leads to the deficit of thyroid hormone – or hypothyroidism.
This gland governs the metabolism of every cell and its absence can have very severe consequences.


A dog’s trachea is made up of strong, cartilage rings that transports air in and out of the dog’s lungs. However, sometimes, those rings collapse. This is called tracheal collapse.
When air is being squeezed through the trachea, a honking cough – the most distinguishable symptom of a collapsed trachea – comes out. It’s most common in toy-breeds, particularly in Yorkshire Terriers.
Despite the popular belief, collars do not cause a trachea to collapse. This is a genetic condition and how it started is unknown.
But wearing a collar can certainly irritate and aggravate this condition, by causing a coughing episode, especially if your dog pulls.


Eye and ear problems may also be related to pulling on the leash. Why?
Because by pulling, the energy and the lymphatic flow towards the head, is decreased, which leads to ear and eye conditions.
In a study performed by University of Madison-Wisconsin veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Ellison Bently, they found that pulling on the collar (like during a walk) created an increase in intra-ocular pressure (IOP), which causes glaucoma.
People are often perplexed when all the ear and eye problems disappear after switching their dog from a collar to the right front clip harness.


This also can be related to your dog’s collar.
Pulling the leash often causes an abnormal sensation, or pins and needles, in the feet.
Therefore dogs try to lick their feet, not knowing what else to do in order to alleviate the discomfort.
There are numerous cases of many so-called “allergic” or chronically lame dogs, healing completely after they were put on a special harness.


Anders Hallgren in a study of 400 dogs, in 2011, found dogs who were strong pullers, or who were exposed to collar corrections, were most likely to display cervical injuries.
Another study found that 91% of dogs with cervical anomalies, had experienced harsh jerking on the lead or had a long history of pulling on the lead.
It should be noted that choke collars were tested in this group.
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.
The study concludes that leash corrections, a dog forging ahead or a tethered one, hitting at the end of a solid leash, may inflict spinal injury.

Some dogs suffer from severe neck misalignment.
A neck injury can pretty much affect any part of the body and if the energy flow deficit is severe, this can even predispose the individual to cancer.
If your dog is a puller and you think that he may be suffering back or neck injury, i suggest you have him examined.
Initially, you may want to get his thyroid level measured and the neck and back checked for any signs of injuries.
Unfortunately, most veterinarians are not trained to check spinal alignment and working with the right practitioner is essential.


Collars injure or kill an estimated of 26.000 dogs per year. If used without attention, can put your dog at risk of strangulation.
“A dog … can jump up and snag their collar on a fence post or a window latch,” which can lead to suffocation, says Dr. John Pacy, owner of Healthy Pets House Calls, a mobile veterinary service in Palm Beach County, Florida. Hanging tags, or other decorative objects can also get caught on dog’s crates or other objects and cause choking.
Dr. Barbara Hodges, a veterinary advisor with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, states she heard about dogs who tried to jump fences, while tied on a long leash and ended up hanging themselves with their collar.


Apart from strangulation hazards, a collar can present other serious physical risks, especially if it’s too loose.
For example, if a pet is scratching its ear and the collar is loose, their leg could get stuck inside the collar, looped through.
The Veterinary Advisor, Dr Barbara Hodges states that this can lead to a limb breaking.
She has also seen dogs get their teeth or tongue stuck in a very loose collar, while grooming themselves, which can cause broken teeth and other mouth injuries.


A collar that is too tight or even “moderately tight”, can lead to skin irritation.
Collars that are fasten tightly, can cause hair loss and the skin in those areas shall be more prone to infection.
To avoid both physical injury and strangulation, i would recommend the breakaway-type of collars, which are designed to snap apart when pressure is applied to the buckle.

The “breakaway” collars prevent many potentially fatal injuries.

If your dog gets injured, i caution you about using NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) painkillers, such as meloxicam.
Despite them being widely used, they suppress pain, but also the natural course of inflammatory and healing response.
The most common side-effects are gastrointestinal ulcers, indigestion and kidney damage, to name a few.
If you are looking for gentle and effective treatment methods, i recommend using physiotherapy, intramuscular needle stimulation, chiropractic’s, acupuncture, homeopathy and massage.

5 Ways to Protect your Dog from Harm

  • Ideally, choose a harness that has at least one attachment to the leash in the front portion - where the neck connects to the torso – the chest opening. Most harnesses on the market have the leash attached on the back. But these harnesses restrict the front portion of the neck, which presses on major veins, arteries and the thyroid gland, which is what we try to avoid.

  • Make sure that your dog’s harness is the right fit and follow the maker’s instructions carefully.

  • Use the harness only when leash walking and take it off when your dog is free to run, play etc. This is a way to prevent skin abrasions and muscle bruising when your dog is running off leash. This is a way to prevent skin abrasions and muscle bruising when your dog is running off leash. Never leave it on when the dog is in-doors.

  • Ensure that the harness is not pressing or rubbing anywhere, especially in the armpit and shoulder region and wash it regularly. Use your two fingers-attached, test if they pass freely between the harness and your dog's body.

  • Use a special shock absorbing leash, for walk or sports.

Dr. Susan C. Nelson, clinical professor at the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University, states:

“If a harness doesn’t fit well and a dog pulls hard on his leash, there is some potential for a chest injury.”

A halter with a back clip, as opposed to a front clip, may be better for brachycephalic (short-nosed dogs), small breeds, as well as dogs with tracheal collapse or other tracheal issues. This is because front-clip harnesses may put too much pressure on the throat region when the dog pulls on the leash, Nelson says. dog-harness-measures


The above sizes are indicative for most brands but may not be conform to all harnesses. Measure your dog meticulously and do some research, before indulging to the market’s dog-product surplus.

About Post Author

Reactif canin

Passionate advocate of Positive Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning and force-free training methods. Studied at Karen Pryor Academy, Ethology Institute Cambridge, Canine Principles Academy and Centre Of Excellence. Being responsible for an animal, consists on creating scenarios that build his self-confidence, helps him to discover his strengths and competences, to trust us and not fear of us. After all, a dog is a dog, a unique individual, who needs and must act like one and by expressing his natural behaviours! We must consider the relationship with our dog as parental, rather than this of the master and subordinate. Dogs, similarly to children, see us as their "role model" for guiding them to their new life, with us. Our role is not to dominate them, but to establish a symbiotic relationship with them. Let us be worthy of this role!

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