Wearing a collar is an important part of a dog's life. A collar serves many purposes, but perhaps most significant is that it holds tags with vital information in case your dog gets lost. Sometimes, though, collars can irritate your pup by rubbing, chafing or pinching his or her neck. So here is an overview of collar chafing and how to prevent it:
What Is Collar Chafing?
Collar chafing occurs when your dog's collar rubs his or her neck the wrong way and causes irritation, usually in the form of an abrasion. Symptoms of collar chafing include hair loss, redness or skin that looks like it has a mild rope burn.
What Causes Collar Chafing?
Collar chafing can be caused by several different factors or a combination of them. The following are the main reasons behind collar chafing and how to prevent or resolve them
Pulling - if you attach leash to collar and your dog pulls on walks, it can cause major irritation or pinching. (Pro Tip: This can actually cause damage to the neck itself, on top of the chafing. If your dog pulls, look to use a harness that distributes pressure more evenly.)
Tightness - when a collar is too tight, it can irritate your dog's neck or cause pain. This is usually an issue for puppies who quickly outgrow their collars. (Pro Tip: The proper fit for a collar is snug but not tight, where the flat of two fingers can fit comfortably between your dog's neck and collar.)
Pinching - collars that pinch at the closure, specifically those with buckles or catches, can grab your dog's hair or skin. (Pro Tip: Make sure your dog's collar can always move around to avoid this issue.)
Rough or stiff material - collars that are made from rough or stiff material - like untreated leather or stiff synthetics - can irritate your dog's neck. (Pro Tip: Opt for collars that are softer and more supple, even when brand new.)
Dirty collar - sometimes mud and dirt make their way under a collar, which can cause chafing. This is one reason it's recommended that you wash your dog's collar regularly. (Pro Tip: Clean your dog's collar after walks and check the fur under the collar during grooming or bathing sessions.)
Wrong type of collar - all dogs are different, which means some collars will work better than others. To reduce irritation, choose a collar wide enough to distribute pressure evenly. (Pro Tip: Padded collars do help prevent chafing, but they tend to wear down, so you'll need to regularly check the collar's status and replace it if the cushioning has flattened.)
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How To Treat Collar Chafing
If you find that chafing has occurred, stop using the collar for a little while to allow the skin to heal and fur to regrow. You can use a harness as an alternative since that will serve the same purposes as a collar (you can put your dog's ID tags on the harness).
To clean the affected area, use a warm water to wet a flat-textured cloth or towel (to reduce irritation) and carefully dry it (gently pat dry, avoid rubbing dry). You can then can apply natural treatments to try to accelerate healing. For example, coconut oil and witch hazel (which has anti-inflammatory properties) are all safe for dogs.
If the chafing looks particular bad or there are open abrasions, you may want to go to the vet in case your pup needs antibiotic cream or other medical treatment. In addition, healing times vary but if the it continues to be an issue after a week or two, it's time to consult a vet. There is a chance it could also be a yeast infection, dermatitis or allergies if it doesn't resolve. Those would require medicated treatments such as anti-fungals and antihistamines.
How To Prevent Collar Chafing
Fortunately, collar chafing is usually preventable. Here are a few ways to get ahead of the issue:
Start by making sure your dog's collar fits correctly - you should be able to fit two fingers between the skin and collar. If you can't do so after adjusting to the loosest length, try going up a size.
For dogs who are still prone to sensitivity despite a properly fitted collar, you can loosen his or her collar even more. That way, it won't sit against the neck constantly (just make sure it's not too loose, so as to get caught on things). Or you can give your dog's neck regular breaks by taking off the collar every few days, weekly or all the time when at home.
Check your dog's neck regularly, especially if he or she wears it all the time. This will help catch chafing early, as it can be difficult to see when the issue is developing because the collar covers up the affected area.
Switch to using a harness for walks in general, instead of just a collar. This will help minimize the instances that cause irritation around the neck.
Remove your dog's collar if his or her neck is wet and wait they are fully dry before placing the collar back on.
Look for collars made of softer material, as those will be less irritating to your dog's neck.
If you're in the market for a new collar, The Pawsitive Co. patterned collars are our softest material and are wide enough to reduce irritation. Our dog Brody
, the inspiration behind founding the company, has been using his for years and has not had issues with chafing. Plus they come in a variety of colors!
Check out our collars on our website or on Amazon.