Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Dog Collars and Health Problems

On my recent annual vet visit, I discovered that my 8 year old dog Yankee’s thyroid is on the low side of normal, despite the fact that he doesn’t exhibit any of the typical symptoms.

Not of great concern, but because he doesn’t present known causes, I couldn’t understand why he might this might be happening until I learned about the potential problems with dog collars.

Yankee has always pulled on leash, especially when there’sDog pulling something he’s interested in checking out, which is often. Although I’ve never put a choke or prong collar on him, he does wear a regular collar where I attach his leash.

When he was a young dog, I repeatedly tried a harness, but he hated that, so I finally gave up and have kept with his regular collar ever since.

What I didn’t know is that low thyroid may be caused by a dog pulling while a leash is attached to his collar, even a normal collar!

How does this happen?

When a dog pulls on the leash, the collar pushes on the throat exactly where the thyroid gland is, causing injury and inflammation.

The dog’s immune system then destroys the thyroid when it tries to get rid of the inflamed cells. Pinch and prong collars are especially at fault for doing damage to the thyroid gland but all collars may be responsible.

I feel awful! Now that he’s almost 8 years old, I learn I may have done something to hurt him.

This made me wonder what other potential damage could be caused by something as simple as a dog collar. What I found out was interesting to say the least.

As a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I know there are several energy channels, or meridians, that run through the neck. The neck also houses the spinal cord, and associated nerves for the dog’s front end. When a dog pulls on a collar, energy flow around the neck is restricted or even disrupted, potentially causing a variety of problems such as

Many people think retractable leashes are a good alternative for active dogs who like to pull. But in this case the effect can be worse. When a dog is running toward something and reaches the end of the retractable leash, there’s an instant jerk that may cause more damage than a normal leash.

Others think the answer lies in a choke or prong collar. That can’t be further from the truth! The problem is that most people don’t use these correctly, and because of that, in addition to causing the problems above, these collars may also cause

I won’t even discuss shock collars since I believe these are so horrendous and cause so much damage. I can’t imagine putting one on my dog!

So what’s the answer?

I think the best choice is a front clip harness, a type of harness that has a clip in the front at the dog’s chest. When you are walking with your dog, if he pulls and the leash is attached to the front clip, it has the tendency to turn your dog around to face you. This reconnects you and your dog, face to face, and gives you the opportunity to work on training your dog to walk the way you want him to.

Some of these harnesses also have a clip on top at the withers, which is used if you jog with your dog.

I find that there are few things as special as going on a walk with my boy. It’s a way to enjoy quiet time with just the two of us. And from now on, I will be well aware of how he acts on leash, so I can protect him and keep him healthy.

My advice –

Look closely at how your dog is on leash, notice if he pulls, and make changes to keep him from hurting himself, even if the damage is subtle. And enjoy your best friend, as we all know, time with them is way too short.