While reading a book about chiropractic care for dogs I came across a very interesting section about dog collars and how they can easily cause neck problems in a dog. Most problems can be attributed to improper handling of the leash by people wearing some collars. Learn more about collars that cause problems and how you can prevent your pet from having neck subluxations.

dog neck pain, canine disc problems, problems with dog collars, prong collars, harnesses, choke collars

During one of my visits to my chiropractor, he suggested that I take Dr. Daniel Kamen's book The Well-Sitting Dog. The book is written by a chiropractor who also makes adjustments to animals, although he does not advertise this. Apparently in many states chiropractors are not allowed to practice on animals, which I was not aware of because I live in Canada and it does not seem to be a problem here in my province. What is good to know, however, is that in the United States veterinarians are allowed to make adjustments on animals ... that is, if you can find someone who has studied chiropractic medicine. It's not an easy task.

Anyway, Dr. Kamen wrote this book (among other things) so that a dog owner can learn how to make his own adjustments to his dog. The book is very informative and guides you through the anatomy of a dog's spine, teaches you how to feel malpositions and suggests various techniques that you can use at home. Many of the techniques focus on how to relax tense muscles, especially if you feel uncomfortable working on the spine.

While reading the book I found a very interesting section on dog collars and how they can easily cause neck problems in a dog.  Most of these problems are due to improper handling of the leash on some collars by humans.

** What types of collars are available? 

I thought I was doing the right thing using a dog harness. I soon found out that this could actually be the cause of my dog's disc problems where his neck meets his shoulders. I was even more surprised by what he described as the best collar you can use.

There are basically five main types of collars used by most dog owners: regular flat nylon and leather collars, choke collars, claw collars, head collars and harnesses.

** Flat collars 

Most dog owners opt for the normal flat collar, but it can also be the most dangerous type. These collars are used to hang up your dog's medals and simply attach the leash to the metal buckle. This type of collar should never be used for dog training... or if you have difficulty controlling your dog while walking.

When frustrated, owners tend to pull on the leash to prevent the dog from pulling and running, or in many cases to move it forward when it has stopped to sniff something. These jolts cause enormous tension in the muscles of the neck, resulting in subluxation of the cervical spine. This is a major cause of disc problems and other neck problems in dogs. Unfortunately most of these disc problems occur much later in life. At this stage, dog owners either give their dog medication to control the pain and relax the muscles, or they try to repair the damage to the degenerated discs through surgery.

** Head collar of the leader 

It seems to be an ideal way to train your dog. A lead collar fits over your dog's head like a muzzle. The lead is attached to a metal buckle on the collar under the dog's chin. The idea is to turn your dog's head to "lead" him where you want to go. Sometimes out of frustration, people can turn their head too abruptly or too hard when trying to train their dog. This, like the normal collar, can cause neck problems.

** throttle collar 

This is the type of collar most commonly used by dog trainers. The idea behind it is that if a dog pulls too hard, it will start to choke and therefore relax and release the tension in the collar.  In reality, when a dog feels a chain tightening, its instinct is to pull away from it, making the collar even tighter. Your dog could literally suffocate in a coma! Poorly trained dogs and especially poorly trained owners can cause extreme damage when using a Choke Collar.

** Harness 

A harness is designed to fit over the shoulders of a dog and can be secured around the chest. Although they are much more suitable than an ordinary collar or choke collar, these harnesses can cause subluxations in the lower part of the neck, shoulders, chest and front legs. Again, the main cause is often attributed to frustrated owners pulling back on the leash, causing the harness to exert a lot of pressure on the shoulders and chest.

** Claw collar 

This collar looks like a medieval torture device. The metal tooth collar has a circular ring of spikes on its inner surface. During training, the slightest resistance distributes the pressure evenly around the neck, which helps to hold the dog tight. As Dr. Kamen says in his book: "Some trainers compare the collar to a 'power steering' system where the slightest contact will give the desired result. He found that dogs using this particular collar have far fewer subluxations of the upper cervicals than any other type of collar. So this is actually the best collar you can use when training and walking your dog, believe it or not.

** What can cause cervical subluxations in dogs? 

There are many other problems that can also cause cervical subluxations. The way dogs are trained (learning to sit on the left side and look up to the owner causes neck tension) is one of the problems. Failure to match the size of the dog to that of the owner, overweight of the dog, insufficient bedding, unsafe playing practices, the length of the leash and the way some dogs are raised are some of the other causes of neck problems.

Of course, it would be difficult for you to monitor every step of your dog. He may prefer to sleep on the hardwood floor by the fireplace rather than on the comfortable carpet you bought. Maybe you played a little too hard with the Frisbee today and made your dog jump too high, causing him to get a neck ache. It is important that you try to correct any activities that may cause subluxation of your pet's neck so that they do not cause more damage. You can also get the book - The Fitting Dog - and learn how to check your dog's neck and spine for any misalignments and then learn how to make some of the corrections yourself. In this way, you can help your dog live a much happier and less painful life.

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