Retractable leashes may injure your dog and cause health problems

Why I would never use a retractable leash

In the past,  I wrote blogs about why you shouldn’t tie a dog to a chair and why prong, shock and choke chain collars can cause a lot of damage. By now, you’re probably asking why I focus so much on leashes and collars?

The reason is simple. Collars and leashes are a frequent source of neck injuries, front leg lameness and hypothyroidism, but also a decline in general health.  Let me explain this.  

It’s easy to forget that the neck is a vital area of the body that is in charge of the nerve, blood and energy flow distribution to muscles and organs.  It also connects the brain with the rest of the body.  

A healthy neck is important for the function of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that originate in the cervical spine and regulate the heart, kidney, lung and digestive tract functions.

The thyroid gland is also located at the front of the throat and gets frequently injured by collars and unforgiving leashes, especially those that extend and retract.

At first, retractable leashes may appear to be the solution to restrictive leash laws by giving dogs more freedom; however, they are a frequent cause of serious neck and thyroid gland injuries that affect the whole body.

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An easy experiment for you to try

Most dog lovers would not use retractable leashes if they knew they were a problem.  However, they are also convenient and easy to use which makes it difficult for some people to make the switch.

If you would like to get a deeper understanding of what retractable leashes do, perhaps you’d be open to putting a collar on your neck, attach a retractable leash to it and ask a friend to hold firmly on to the handle. When you are in position, start running without knowing when you will hit the end of the leash. The moment you reach the end, your neck will be yanked on.

This stop moment can cause serious injuries to your dog’s neck and also the thyroid gland that lies right under the most pressed on area of the collar. If such trauma is repeated on a regular basis, injuries to the neck, the thyroid gland and the adjacent nerves are inevitable and can lead to a wide array of medical issues such as hypothyroidism, front leg lameness, paw licking caused by nerve injuries, but also other organ conditions that stem from trauma to parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve pathways.

To protect my patients and my dog from injuries, I have long retired my retractable leash and use a Perfect Fit Harness and Gentle Leash instead.

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM


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