We asked our veterinarians what they thought about the safety of retractable leashes. Here's what they had to say:
1. Retractable leashes can damage your pet’s neck and throat. When your pet gets to the end of the leash, it can snap your pet’s neck back causing damage to their trachea and neck vertebrae. We treat many animals for neck and back injuries which can be very painful and have long-lasting effects. An injured trachea can cause a cough that can also affect breathing if severe enough. Even when keeping the length short on a retractable leash, injury can still occur.
2. Even though your pet is not aggressive, it can seem that way to other pets. Your pet can extend into the personal space of other pets. While your pet might be friendly and just trying to say hi, walking into the space of another pet can seem aggressive. Every other pet is not always friendly and for some who are anxious or nervous, this invasion of space can cause them to be fearful and aggressive.
3. Retractable leashes cause dog fights. Retractable leashes allow your pet to travel a great distance away from you, and dangerous situations can occur in the blink of an eye. For instance, an aggressive dog can escape a yard and reach your pet many seconds faster than you can retract the leash. The reaction time between a retractable leash and a traditional leash differ greatly.
4. Retractable leashes are dangerous to you and to others! The most important reason our veterinarians shared is your safety and the safety of others around you. Retractable leashes can cause bodily injury to the operator and anyone in the near surrounding. The cord on a retractable leash is very narrow and can easily get wrapped around fingers or legs causing minor issues such as rope burn and skin lacerations. Major injuries such as amputation of a digit can also occur. Retractable leashes also provide a huge risk for tripping. When your pet is at the end of a fully extended retractable leash, they can quickly entangle people in the surrounding area and cause them to trip or fall and harm themselves. While using a retractable leash, you risk the safety of all the people surrounding you and your pet.
Our medical team is trained and ready to help your pet with anything that may arise, but protection and prevention are always our top priority. Retractable leashes are popular because they seem less confining than the traditional leash, but there can be clear consequences. Please consider your pets' safety and the safety of others while using a retractable leash. Due to the high volume of different services we provide, we also ask that you refrain from using these type of leashes while at our community veterinary clinic.