Dog on retractable leash.

In a perfect world, our dogs wouldn’t need to be leashed, rather they would joyfully, and safely, accompany us as we go about our daily tasks. As this is clearly not the case for the vast majority of us, the daily leashed walk has become an important part of dog ownership. 

Retractable leashes may seem like a good choice for an owner who wants to give their dog a sense of freedom, but the risks involved with this type of leash are considerable. 

Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes aren’t really leashes at all, rather they are comprised of a thin, nylon cord which is wrapped around a spring-loaded device. 

The device is housed inside a plastic handle and is operated by a button that can either release or lock the leash into place. Some retractable leashes extend up to 25 feet in length.

Risks to Pets

The fact that retractable leashes allow dogs to get much farther away from their owners than standard leashes is a big part of why they are so dangerous. Some of the risks include:

  • Darting out suddenly in front of cars, bicyclists, or unfamiliar dogs.
  • Entanglement that could cause strangulation or serious injuries to the legs, paws, tail, or nose.
  • Neck injury as a result of a sudden stop when the end of the leash is reached too quickly or the owner stops the leash extension suddenly.
  • Getting lost or running into a dangerous situation if the thin cord breaks or the handle is dropped.

Risks to Pet Owners

As if the risks to dogs aren’t bad enough, dog owners themselves could be seriously injured as a result of using a retractable leash, such as:

  • Rope burns, cuts, or lacerations from a finger, hand, or leg getting caught in the leash as your pet unexpectedly darts off.
  • Eye injuries, broken teeth, or bloodied nose if the leash or hook breaks and the handle bounces back into your face.
  • Serious injury to pedestrians or bicyclists if the leash does not retract or your pet gets tangled up around someone else.

There have even been cases of a person losing a finger due to a retractable leash wrapping quickly around the appendage and being pulled suddenly by a strong dog!

Retractable Leash Safety

Despite the apparent ease of use and freedom offered by retractable leashes, your team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital recommend using a sturdy, 4-6’ leash at all times. Your pet’s safety depends on it! As does yours!

For more information, or for recommendations on leashes, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are here for you and your pet!