How tight should my pet’s collar be? Very good question. Another question is how often or when should my pet wear a collar? Are cat collar and dog collar suggetions the same?
Let’s talk about dogs first. A good general rule of thumb is it should be tight enough not to slip over their head and come off but not too tight to irritate the skin or rub off the hair. Ususally you should be able to fit 1 to 2 fingers between the neck and the collar when the collar is in position. When you put a collar on your puppy you must remember to check it at least once or twice a week. Puppies go through rapid growth spurts and you must let the collar out to allow for the increased size of the puppy. Too many times I have seen dogs that had a collar put on as a puppy and it was never adjusted resulting in the collar causing serious injury to the dog and requiring surgery to remove the embedded collar.
I do not recommed the “clip/quick coupler” collars when walking a dog. Over time these plastic clips get worn and if your dogs hits the end of the leash, these snaps give way and the collar comes off. Always use a secure buckle collar when walking your dog. I do not recommend dogs wearing collars all the time, especially those with tags attached to them. These tags have been know to get stuck in crates, floor heating/air conditioning grates and if you are not there, your pet can be severely injured and even some have choked to death. My rule of thumb is if you are not monitoring your pet, then take the collar off. You put it on for your pet to go outside and then take it off when it returns to the house. This is the safest in the long run.
Some dog breeds will slip out of any collar if their neck is thick and the same width as their skull. Breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, Pugs, Bulldogs and similar breeds will slip out of even the tightest buckle collars. Slip leads are designed for these breeds. They are comfortable and will gently tighten if pressue is put on the lead/collar. Some of the very small breeds or those with very thick necks do better with a harneess.
Collars and cats…………..this is another story. Always use a stretch collar for a cat. Cats crawl through tight spaces and climb and also can slip while climbing. If they do not have a stretchable collar then once again they can hang themselves and choke. Whether they are inside or outside, collars can be a hazard for cats. Make sure the collar will stretch easily enough to come off the cat with minimal pressure. Again remember, if you have a young cat or kitten you must constantly evaluate it for proper fit.
Another safety reminder. When you pick your pet up from grooming or boarding always double check the fit of the collar. If someone else has put it on it may be too loose and can easily slip off and your pet could get loose and seriously injured or killed.
I also recommend all pets be microchipped for more secure, permanent, traceable identification. A collar and tags are not sufficient. They come loose or fall off and the identification is lost. Most shelters and veterinary offices have microchip scanners so that lost animals can be readily reunited with their owners. It is a relatively painless installation process or it can be implanted when your pet is asleep when it is neutered or spayed. We relocate one or two pets a year via their microchip information.
Hopefully these guidelines are helpful so that you can have a safe collar and one that fits properly.