Vets warn owners to steer clear of retractable leads and other dangerous gifts
As dog owners, we all want the best for our pets. But did you know some of the most popular dog products are potentially unsafe? Our emergency vets have seen dogs become injured or ill as a result of all of these things so, if you’re planning on buying any of them as a festive gift, please think again.
Here, our head of veterinary standards, Laura Playforth, has listed some of the most popular dog accessories that you should probably avoid.
1. Fancy dress outfits
Is buying a fancy dress outfit for your pet on your to-do list? If so, consider this: our vets have been alerted to a hidden danger many pet owners may not be aware of — fancy dress outfits for pets that ignite within seconds of coming into contact with a naked flame. Our own fire safety experiments into the flammability of some of these outfits was alarming, with some going up in flames in seconds.
2. Retractable leads
Retractable leads — thin string that extends as your dog moves away and can be stopped by pushing down on a button on a plastic handle — are often viewed as a good way to give dogs a little freedom while keeping them safe and under control. But, in reality, these leads are potentially dangerous and have been known to cause serious injuries in dogs, including rope burns and deep cuts. On top of that they are so long — up to 30ft — it’s often impossible for owners who use them to guarantee their dog’s safety. They are particularly risky when walking your dog by the road — if the lead is extended more than arm’s length from your body it’s highly likely they could get into the road before you could stop them.
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3. Dangerous toys
Dog owners need to be vigilant when it comes to toys. Some are terribly made and nowhere near robust enough. Our emergency vets have treated scores of sick dogs who have swallowed badly-made, broken or worn out toys, with some even requiring surgery to remove the product from their stomach, throat or intestines.
4. Jerky treats
Your dog is likely to snap your hand off for one of these chewy strips of dried meat, but be wary of jerky treats. Some foreign imports have been linked to a horrific condition called Fanconi syndrome, which causes kidney damage and is potentially fatal. If you do feed your dog jerky be on the lookout for any abnormal signs such as extreme tiredness.
Give a dog a bone, or perhaps don’t if you’d rather avoid a trip to one of our pet emergency clinics or hospitals. Bones are a common cause of intestinal obstructions in dogs and chewing on them can result in damaged teeth or injury due to bone splinters puncturing the mouth or digestive tract. It’s also not uncommon for dogs to choke on bones.
6. Plastic bowls
Cheap and convenient they may be, but some plastic bowls are nigh-on impossible to keep clean. This is particularly the case if they’ve started to crack, peel or have deep scratches as the damaged area is a haven for bacteria. Some plastic dog bowls have also been known to release dangerous chemicals into food and water, particularly if they get very hot.
7. Choke collars
Choke collars or choke chains are designed to stop dogs from pulling on their lead. However, they do this by inflicting pain and discomfort which in turn can harm your pet both physically and emotionally.
8. Electric shock collars
Electric shock collars give dogs a shock when they disobey orders or even bark and are used by some owners to train dogs through fear. But research has shown they can have a terrible physiological impact on dogs. There are many positive dog training methods that can achieve the same, or better, results as electric shock collars without inflicting pain and suffering. These collars are already banned in Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany and in some parts of Australia. But they currently remain on sale in England.