Electric dog collars are used extensively for obedience training of canines. While some trainers recommend using shock collars and call them the best tool for training purposes, many other trainers have claimed that the use of this dog training collar is not humane and falls in the category of animal abuse. The latter also believe that shock collars cause burns to the dog’s neck area. Here’s the complete guide regarding this statement and its treatment.
Does a Shock Collar Burn a Dog’s Neck?
Shock collars neither give out heat nor produce an electric current. Instead, they work based on static shock. Static shock occurs only when charged particles are imbalanced on a particular surface. The static current emitted from the electric dog collars cannot burn the dog’s neck. Instead, many wounds can result from the improper use of these collars.
Reasons Shock Collars Cause Wounds on the Neck
An electronic collar is capable of causing minute skin irritation to deep puncture wounds if not used properly. The following situations are considered as the misuse of the shock collar by a trainer:
The Collar Is Too Tight
Some trainers don’t mind the tightness of the collar around the dog’s neck. However, if the collar is too tight, it can result in severe pressure on the neck area, due to which the skin can get damaged. The condition is called pressure necrosis or pressure sores. The severity of the pressure ulcers depends on how long the dog wore the collar. Initially, the color of the skin changes from red to blue to purple. Then the upper skin layer starts getting damaged, and the cells start dying (necrosis occurs) due to the excessive pressure. If one does not prevent excessive pressure after the appearance of the wounds (looking similar to the burn marks), the underlying skin tissue can also get damaged.
Other complications associated with pressure necrosis include bone damage, severe inflammation, bacteria entering the bloodstream (increased susceptibility to the bacterial infection), and increased cancer risk.
To prevent pressure necrosis, make sure the proper fit of the collar. Ideally, there should be a gap of two fingers between the collar and the neck.
The Collar Is Worn All Day Long
Even if the collar is not tight and still the bedsores are seen all over the dog’s neck, you are probably making the dog wear the collar all day long. This is because the contact points between the shock collar and the dog’s skin start paining with visible wounds.
To prevent infection, give him frequent breaks from the collar. According to Petrainer, don’t keep the collar around the dog’s neck for more than 12 hours. Moreover, reposition the collar every 2 hours to change the contact points.
If any wounds appear, try to treat pressure necrosis as the priority. Regularly remove the collar, clean the infected wounds with antibacterial soap, and apply aloe vera gel or another antibiotic ointment. It will prevent swelling and help in healing wounds.
The Collar Is Not of Good Quality
Dog owners tend to buy the best products for their furry friends. But sometimes, they fall for the marketing strategies of the companies selling low-quality products. Low-quality shock collars can also cause skin irritation and severe wounds. If you don’t want to give the dog wounds, buying the collars from a trusted manufacturer would be better. Don’t buy the regular collar with no changeable stimulation level. They are the worst. Besides checking the manufacturer, do check if the collar is working properly. Make sure the collar gives the shock instantly with no delays. Don’t buy it if the collar cannot tighten and loosen around the dog’s neck. A loose collar won’t come in contact with the skin and hence will provide no stimulation. On the other hand, a tight collar is not humane due to the damage it causes to the skin.
The Collar Has an Attached Leash
Remember the leash’s purpose before attaching the leash to the shock collar. A leash is made to prevent the dog from escaping. These are made in the way that whenever the dog tries to escape and pull on the leash, it tightens the collar. By now, you are probably well aware of the harm caused by a tight collar worn by the dog. Besides these harms, it can also result in a choking hazard. To prevent such situations, use a separate collar for keeping the dog on a leash.
In fact, there’s no need to put on the leash when the dog is wearing a shock collar. The collar is supposed to give the dog off-leash training, such as electric fence training or for training a hunting dog.
How to Treat Shock Collar Wounds?
If you observe certain signs of infection or a wound under the dog’s collar, it is better to start treating the wounds right away.
Look for the Signs of Infection
Some obvious signs appear due to the lack of proper care after making the dogs wear a shock collar. These signs include:
- Hair loss in the affected area. The owners often overlook this sign as they themselves cut the dogs’ hair to increase the contact between the skin and the collar.
- Redness of the skin followed by a blue or purple color in severe conditions.
- Sometimes, the wounds smell too.
- Lesions are formed and are accompanied by a fluid coming out of them.
- Itching in the infected area causes the dog to become restless, and he brings his paw near the infection site repeatedly.
- Severe inflammation
- Other complications can occur if bacteria get to sneak into the wound. Different bacteria result in different diseases and hence different complications.
Clean the Dog’s Neck
Take off the collar and clean the skin with a damp cloth. Apply the high-quality antiseptic solution to the cloth to disinfect the area. Betadine solution can also be used. Let it dry. You can also apply tea tree oil; its anti-fungal properties won’t let any fungus enter or grow in the wound. The oil is also found to have antibiotic properties too.
Moreover, dilute the oil for applying to the skin and make sure the dog does not lick it off. Ingesting tea tree oil can pose poisoning in dogs. It can cause rashes in the mouth and can damage the liver if ingested in a large amount.
Apply Antibiotic Ointment
Open wounds are more prone to bacterial infections. An infection from a pathogen can make the wound even worse. To treat the wounded area, you must apply an antibiotic ointment. Antibiotic treatment will help with bruises and ward off invading pathogens simultaneously. Bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B containing antibiotic ointments are effective, triple in action, has antifungal properties, and are easily available in veterinary stores. But any ointments containing steroids should be avoided at all costs. Keep your puppy from licking the ointment. The ointment may be a little itchy; you must prevent him from wiping it off; the longer, the better. To prevent licking, place a breathable loose bandage over the area, but keep an eye on it and replace it periodically.
Try to Reduce Pain
Pain in the neck must be reduced to make the dog feel at ease. Don’t give him any dose of aspirin or ibuprofen, considering the fact that these medications reduce the pain in humans. Yes, they are safe for human consumption but not safe for dogs. Apart from causing gastrointestinal ulcers, they can also damage the dog’s kidneys and liver. However, several other pain medications are safe for dogs, including carprofen, etodolac, and meloxicam.
Seek professional advice before giving the dog any kind of painkiller.
Try to Reduce Swelling in the Affected Area
For reducing the swelling apply petroleum jelly. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve pain as well. Moreover, it makes a quick home remedy. Similarly, aloe vera gel is very effective in reducing inflammation.
Besides swelling, there must be an increase in the blood flow at the wound site. To decrease the blood pressure in the area, spray ice packs. These sprays give an instant cooling burst. It lowers the swelling and pain and reduces the temperature of the affected area, reducing blood flow.
Visit the Vet
After treating the wound, take the dog to a professional animal veterinarian if the condition persists. He can better grasp the underlying reason and treat the dog accordingly.
How to Prevent Shock Collar Wounds?
- Don’t let the dogs wear the collars for long periods of time. Give him breaks.
- Know where to place the collar rightly so that it does not damage the dogs’ neck.
- Don’t use the electric dog collars as the punishment tools. Not only do they harm, but the dog also becomes fearful.
- Make sure to set the stimulation level that is tolerable to the dog.
- Don’t give the shock more than 3 to 5 times in a training session.
Shock collars are extensively used for dog training purposes. However, if not used properly, they can damage the skin. If the collar is too tight, if it is worn for long periods of time, or if the collar is of low quality, the dog’s neck is prone to damage. Treat shock collar wounds by cleaning the wound site with a damp cloth, applying ointment, and treating his pain and swelling. If the wounds persist, take a visit to the vet and quit the use of the collar for the time being.