Navigating the world of pet safety accessories

Unsure which harnesses, leashes, life preservers, and other products are the best to recommend to your clients? An emergency department veterinarian can advise

For pet owners, there is an endless number of collars, leashes, harnesses, and other products for their pets. They come in all different colors, designs, and sizes; some are retractable whereas other are not, and there are other differences in the selection available. When clients go to a veterinarian, asking which kind of accessory is the safest for their pet, proper research can be necessary.

During an interview with dvm360®, Erik Zager, DVM, DACVECC, cohead of critical care at Philadelphia Animal Specialty and Emergency in Pennsylvania, explained what products tend to be the safest and how to instruct pet owners to ensure they are correctly using these products for their pets.

Discussing products

Owners sometimes prefer a retractable leash over a standard one, or a harness over a collar. However, not using the proper equipment for the pet can cause health risks or put the animal in harm’s way.

“There are a couple things that can be exacerbated by an incorrect leash or harness, especially things like neck and back pain. When the [leash, collar, or harness] is pulling on the wrong area, it can exacerbate that pain,” Zager said. “We can also see things like respiratory disease, especially upper respiratory disease, if they have a sensitive trachea or neck. A collar and leash pulling on that can exacerbate those diseases, as well.”

For these types of issues, Zager will ask pet parents which kind of safety products they use on their pets. If he discovers they are using a product that is inducing the illness, he will discuss the risks of the product and offer suggestions for new ones. Zager will even write recommendations within the discharge papers, including switching from a collar to a harness.

Educating pet parents

After discussing with clients the risks some products may pose to pets, clients will most likely have questions on safety or what they should look out for to ensure their pets have the correct products. Zager offered tips that veterinary professionals can tell their clients to ensure the pet’s collar fits properly.

“You want to be able to comfortably fit 2 fingers under the collar, so it’s not too tight. You also don’t want [it] to be too loose so that it’s [able to] slip off the head. I usually recommend, even if you are using a harness, to also have a collar. The collar is a better place [to have] identification, contact information, rabies tags, and things like that. Harnesses tend to come off and on when you’re in the house, and the collars should always stay on,” Zager said.

Whether in the summer months or for families going on vacation throughout the year, life preservers are a must for pets on the water. Using the manufacturer’s guidance on the packaging for size and fit is crucial. Life preservers can be complicated, so encouraging your clients to follow all the instructions and sizing guidelines will help keep their pets safe on the water.

Conclusion

Pet owners will have to test products and see which is best for their pet. As a veterinary professional, providing this guidance is crucial to ensuring their safety, whether they are in the streets, parks, or the water, and for avoiding medical issues because of improper accessories. Zager urged pet owners to investigate what they are buying and what products best fit their pet’s needs.

Zager’s final advice for veterinary professionals is to make sure your clients know the importance of their pets having identification on them. Clients will never know when their pets will get out, so making sure they can get back home is essential.

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