Rainy Season and Poisonous Mushrooms

Renee Lewis - Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rainy season is here. We've talked about the poisonous toads, now lets talk again about the poisonous mushrooms. Here are the 5 most common. Please if you see them in your yard remove them. Do a check in the yard before you let your furry loved ones out. If they do ingest them seek immediate veterinary help. If possible take the mushroom with you if they vomit it up or if there are more in the yard grab one so that your veterinarian can identify it. They can cause death!
Common signs to watch for:

Abdominal pain
Walking drunk
Organ failure


VSSF Admin - Friday, May 13, 2016
It's almost that time of the year again.. We have been lucky for  many years now, please don't let your guard down. Preparedness is the key to safety. Here's an article we found that will help you and your furry family member
 in the event of a storm.

Hurricanes … not something we want to think about, but something we definitely should plan for, for the sake of our pets. After Charlie hit Florida in 2004, and Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, we cannot pretend that these events aren’t going to happen and our pets depend on us to make sure they are safe during these events. As a Florida resident, I remember in my frenzied preparation for Charlie, trying to figure out how to get all of my pets into my safe room, the bathroom. I had 7 dogs, 11 cats and a very small bathroom. In addition, a friend of mine who lives on Sarasota Bay evacuated to my house with her cats and birds, so it was like those old college games where you try to cram as many people as possible into a phone booth, only not as funny. Well, I guess it was sort of funny. There was much chaos as we shoved cats into crates trying to figure out how best to stack them in the tub, dragged mattresses to and fro for the best protective use, and moved furniture and dog crates around in an attempt to form some sort of fortress that presumably a Category 5 hurricane would not be able to penetrate. Even if you don’t want to prepare for yourself, it is your responsibility as a pet owner to take every precaution to ensure the safety of your pet. Many pets were displaced and lost as a result of hurricane Charlie in 2004, and many, many more died unnecessarily in Katrina in 2005, because the people in the area where hurricanes hit were largely unprepared for a direct hit. Besides, there seems to be some cosmic law that invokes to prevent an event from happening when you prepare for it in advance. Regardless of whether or not I’m right about that cosmic law, here are things you can do now that will promote your pet’s safety in the event of a direct hit. 1. If you evacuate, take your pet(s) with you. If you are ordered to evacuate, then evacuate – with your pet. Many shelters now accept pets if you contain them in crates, so have a crate for each of your pets. Also, most hotels will accept pets during emergency situations. There’s really no excuse to stay behind and endanger your pet because you want to prove something. If you must stay, at least evacuate your pet to a safe facility (be sure to leave proper next-of-kin documentation). As most experts have agreed, though, if you haven’t evacuated by the time the hurricane is starting its approach, DO NOT try to evacuate at that time. Trying to outrun a hurricane is insane and leads to pure panic and direct endangerment of yourself and your pet. 2. If you stay, secure your pet(s). Have a crate on hand for your cat and/or small dog and use a waterproof marker to write your name, address, and phone number on the crate. Crates that are big enough for large dogs will not likely fit in your safe room, so leashing them securely (I use harnesses for my large dogs, because I don’t feel that neck collars are sufficient to secure them) and keeping them very close to you in the safe room is your best bet. Other important things to do: 

1. If you evacuate, be sure to take plenty of food and water for your pet, as well as your pet’s vaccine records. Also, keep your pet crated or leashed at all times. Store dry pet food in water-safe containers and have a manual can opener on hand for canned food.
 2. Get your cat and/or dog micro-chipped well in advance of hurricane season for more reliable identification should you become separated from each other. Your vet can do this for you.

 3. Give your dog a good potty break well before the storm hits. If there are high winds and heavy rain, falling branches and electrical wires are a real danger to your pet, as well as to you. Keep your dog on leash and under close supervision after the storm passes to protect it from hazards, including displaced alligators, snakes, and floating fire ants. 

4. Try to remain calm. Hard as that might seem, your pets will very likely be stressed out from the situation as well as from the dropping barometric pressure, so move slowly and methodically (unlike what I did when Charlie passed this way). One way to do this is to be prepared in advance. Another way to manage your hurricane stress is to have plenty of Häagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream on hand (for you, not your pet). That way, when the power fails, you have to eat it all at once! 

Hurricanes are an unpleasant fact of life in the Southern states and the East coast. But we have been weathering hurricanes for a long time, so it shouldn’t be something that continues to take us by surprise. Be pro-active and protect your pet with proper planning.

By Elizabeth Chandler

Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

VSSF Admin - Saturday, April 30, 2016
Did you know that your chewing gum could be toxic to your dogs?  Many gums today contain artificial sweeteners to make them sugar free.  One of the most common types is a sugar alcohol called Xylitol.  Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.  At the low end of the dose, Xylitol can cause severe hypoglycemia or low blood sugar which can lead to lethargy, vomiting and seizures.  At higher doses, Xylitol can lead to acute liver failure and unfortunately, death.   Generally Xylitol affects dogs more so than cats, and previously chewed gum is often safe.  
So what does this mean if your dog ingests Xylitol?  More than likely your dog will need immediate medical attention.  If possible please bring the container with the brand of gum with you as Xylitol concentrations vary brand to brand.  Also if possible, document how many pieces of gum your pet has ingested.  One of the most important things is to bring your pet in immediately after ingestion so we can induce vomiting to try and get as much of the gum out as possible!  Please call poison control or your veterinarian, if you are concerned about exposure to gum or if you have any questions or concerns

Written by

R.S. Singh DVM

Dogs And Allergies

VSSF Admin - Sunday, April 17, 2016

Believe it or not, dogs can suffer from allergies as well as cause them–in fact, allergies are all too common among canines. They can’t be cured, but they can be treated, both with medication and by protecting your dog, as much as possible, from whatever’s making him sick.


As in humans, allergies are caused by an immune system that overreacts to an everyday substance, such as fleas pollen, or a certain food. The following are the three most common culprits.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is genetic. An affected dog inherits a tendency to develop skin problems from pollens, grasses and trees, dust mites, or mold spores.

It usually begins with a seasonal reaction to pollen when the dog is young, and progresses until the dog is allergic to many different substances year-round. Skin irritation usually shows up around the eyes and mouth, armpits, stomach, and anal area. Ear infections are also common.

Your vet can run a skin or blood test to see what’s causing the problem, although these aren’t always totally accurate and medication can interfere with the results. (Your dog shouldn’t have prednisone for a month before the test, or antihistamines for 10 days before.)

Your vet may give your dog steroids for short-term relief from the itching, and immunotherapy (allergy shots) to lesson your dog’s sensitivity to allergens long-term.

Flea allergy

An allergy to blood-sucking fleas–or rather, to their saliva–is the single most common skin disease in dogs. In allergic dogs, a flea bite can cause extreme itching, red bumps, and inflamed skin that lasts for days. The more an allergic dog is bitten, the worse the allergy gets.

Steroids and antihistamines can make your dog less itchy, but the only real treatment is tight flea control in the house and yard, as well as on the dog. Luckily, the newer generation of flea control products is very effective.

Food allergy

Dogs can be allergic to several types of food, but the most common triggers are chicken, beef, corn, or wheat–all typical ingredients in commercial dog food. The allergy usually shows up as a skin problem, such as itching, rashes, and hot spots (warm spots of infected skin). Some dogs may have stomach upset as well, with chronic diarrhea or vomiting.

To find out what your dog’s allergic to, work with your vet to try an allergy elimination diet. This diet involves giving your dog a special food (which you’ll get from the vet), and over three or four months, gradually adding other foods back to your dog’s diet. When he starts itching again, you’ve found your culprit and can keep it out of your dog’s food bowl for good.

When it’s time to see a vet

A visit to the vet is in order if you spot these allergy warning signs:

  • Frequent scratching, licking, and chewing
  • Recurring skin or ear infections
  • Red, thick, or flaky skin
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic stomach upset
  • Reverse sneezing (sounds a bit like the dog is inhaling sneezes)

How to treat allergies

Treatment plans vary depending on the allergy, but they usually involve medication, managing the environment to remove the allergen, or both. Not every dog will need all these measures, so talk with your vet once you know what your dog is allergic to.

  • Antihistamines, steroids, and other medications may relieve itching. Steroids aren’t a long-term solution, however, since they can cause serious health problems. Antihistamines are safer, although they may make your dog drowsy.
  • Immunotherapy may make your dog less allergic, although it doesn’t work for food allergies (see below).
  • Air filters cut down on airborne allergens, and air conditioning makes it harder for allergy culprits like mold to grow.
  • Essential fatty acid supplements help relieve symptoms in some dogs.
  • For dust mite allergies, wash the dog’s bed (even if it’s your bedspread) in hot water every other week or even weekly. If he’s allowed on furniture, put down a towel or blanket on furniture that you can wash in hot water.
  • Avoid going outside in the early morning and late afternoon, when pollen levels are at their peak. After walks, wipe your dog down with moist towelettes to remove pollen.
  • To keep an allergic dog’s sensitive skin from drying out after bathtime,bathe with hypoallergenic dog shampoos and crème rinse only, and rinse with water thoroughly.
  • Follow a strict flea control program. Fill dog beds with cedar to discourage fleas from taking up residence.
  • Don’t leave with your dog in a humid part of the house, such as the basement, laundry room, or bathroom.

Immunotherapy may help

Dogs can get immunotherapy (often called “allergy shots”), just like people. Unlike drugs designed to ease symptoms, immunotherapy may make your dog less allergic by regularly exposing him to tiny amounts of whatever he’s sensitive to. It’s not effective for food allergies, though.

Not all dogs respond to immunotherapy. About 60 to 80 percent do very well with the shots, about a fourth get some relief, and another fourth don’t respond at all. It takes weeks, months, or sometimes even a year to know if it’s working. Expect the pay-off next allergy season, not this one.

If it does work, your dog will probably need regular shots for the rest of his life. Your vet or a veterinary dermatologist will teach you how to give the shots to your dog at home, although if you have a tough time doing this, the vet can do it for you. Rarely, a dog will have a serious reaction to the shots, so you’ll need to schedule them when you’ll be nearby for a half hour or hour afterward to keep an eye on your dog.

One final tip: buy the best darn treats you can find to give your dog after the shot, as it will ease the process.

What’s next

You’re in for management control for the life of your dog. Even if your dog is taking medication or getting allergy shots, chances are you’ll still need to minimize his exposure to whatever he’s allergic to. The good news is, it’s much easier once you’ve figured out what’s triggering the allergy.

by Dogtime

Bufo Toads

VSSF Admin - Thursday, April 07, 2016
BOLO...Be on the look out!!! The Bufo Toad also know as the marine toad, giant toad and cane toad. They are brownish to grayish-brown with a creamy yellow belly. They do not have any ridges or knobs on their head and have a deeply pitted parotoid glands on their side extending down their back. When confronted by a predator these glands are able to shoot a toxin for them in the form of a white venom. The secretions are highly toxic to dogs, cats and other animals. It can cause skin irritations of humans. Fortunately toad venom toxicity is rare in cats. 

Bufo toads are seen mostly during the rainy season late May mid October, but not limited too. They are most active early mornings and evenings. Don't let your guard down we see cases though out the year and all times of the day.

Keeping your dog on a leash and well supervised is the best advise we can give to help try and prevent an encounter with this potentially deadly creature. Also they are attracted to your pets food and water bowels. Pick up uneaten food, along with picking up their feces on a regular basis, this is also an attraction.

If you have an encounter immediately rinse out your pets mouth with water to remove any toxins. Do not flush water down the throat, rinse side to side. You do not want the toxins to go down the throat. We also see cases where the hose is used to rinse the mouth causing water to fill the lungs causing more issues. Proceed to the nearest clinic or emergency clinic. Time is of the essence.

Signs that your pet has come in contact with a Bufo are...

Irritation to the eyes and nose
Extremely dark pink gums
Foaming at the mouth
Staggering, weakness or collapse
Difficulty breathing
Fever, diarrhea or vomiting
Death can follow in as little as 15 minutes if enough toxins are ingested and not treated.

So please keep your guard up and lets keep our fur babies safe.

Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

VSSF Admin - Friday, April 01, 2016

Flat-faced dogs, like Boxers, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers can be cute, but their short noses also cause breathing problems. These brachycephalic dog breeds can suffer from snoring and snorting. These may seem like harmless ailments, but these common issues of short nosed dogs mean the dog's airway is partially obstructed, and this can become worse over time if left untreated.

Brachycephalic means "shortened head" and refers to the short nose and flat face of dogs like Pugs,Chows, Pekingese and Bull Mastifs these are just a few . Because the flat face is so popular, these dogs have been bred for their looks, but many suffer from airway issues as a result. The flat face is the result of a smaller upper jaw, in which the tissues inside are bigger than the jaw can allow. All of the airway issues that can result from this overcrowding are collectively referred to as "brachycephalic airway syndrome."

All brachycephalic dogs suffer from some form of mild brachycephalic airway syndrome and are also vulnerable to more dangerous conditions that may require surgery. Symptoms of airway obstruction include snoring, snorting, noisy breathing, and tiring or fainting during exercise. Because these conditions become worse over time, and can cause permanent damage, it's important to monitor closely and  work with your vet to determine if and when surgery may be needed.

The following are brachycephalic airway syndrome symptoms that can cause serious health concerns.

• Elongated soft palate: Almost every brachycephalic dog has an extra-long soft palate (tissue between mouth and nose cavities) which covers the throat more than it should. In many dogs, this may only cause snoring and some difficulties panting in hot weather, but other dogs may need surgery to shorten the palate.

• Stenotic Nares: Another common problem is narrowed or collapsed nostrils, which make it hard for dogs to breathe through their noses. This usually leads to a lot of mouth breathing and makes exercise difficult. Sometimes puppies can grow out of this problem, but a surgical procedure may be needed to open up the nostrils.

• Tracheal Stenosis: In some dogs the trachea, or wind-pipe, is dangerously narrow. This narrowing makes panting difficult and use of anesthesia very dangerous.

• Everted Laryngeal Saccules: Difficult breathing can inflame saccules (pouches) in the layrnx, and even flip them inside out (hence the term "everted"). This significantly obstructs the airway, so surgical removal of the saccules is common. In severe cases, oxygen therapy may be needed until surgery can be performed.

• Heat Stroke: Since dogs use panting to cool down, brachycephalic dogs struggle in hot weather because they cannot draw in enough air to cool their body. Vomiting glazed eyes, and seizures can all be signs of heat stroke.

• Eyes and Eyelids: Brachycephalic dogs' eyes tend to stick out of their skull a little more than others. Sometimes it's difficult for eyelids to close over their eyes (even while sleeping). They are also more vulnerable to vision issues if hit on the head.

• Teeth: Brachycephalic dogs have the same number of teeth as other dogs, but less space to fit them all, which can lead to peridontal disease

If you have a brachycephalic dog, there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk of airway or other health problems. 

• Use a harness instead of a collar leash: Collars can pull on the larynx making breathing more difficult, and also put strain on the face and eyes. 

• Don't let your dog over-exercise or overheat: Even brachycephalics who do not need surgery will struggle with breathing if they are exercising or out in hot and humid weather. Keep your dog inside during high temperatures and limit their exercise. 

• Keep weight in a healthy range: Obesity can make brachycephalic problems worse. 

• Keep track of normal snorting and snoring: You'll learn what sounds are normal for your dog, so when you hear new snorting or labored breathing, it's time to check with the vet. Many of these conditions worsen over time.

• Work with your vet to determine which, if any, conditions may require surgery: Not all dogs will need surgery but many will benefit from a palate shortening or other corrective procedure. 

• Spay or neuter your dog: Since brachycephalic airway syndrome is inherited, it is best to avoid breeding a brachycephalic dog which had to undergo surgery (so that their puppies won't have the same severe problems). Giving birth is also very hard on female brachycephalic dogs, so it is best left to professional breeders.

So when thinking about bringing any of these adorable flat nosed breeds into your family, please do your home work and know the potential health concerns that can come with these lovable faces. They make wonderful family members, just make sure you are prepared to  take on any issues that you may encounter with these adorable flat noses fur babies.

By Sora Wondra

Lily Toxicosis

VSSF Admin - Thursday, March 24, 2016
Flower arrangements are very popular this time of the year while celebrating the Spring holidays.  While they are beautiful and make great decorations in the home, it is important to remember that any arrangement containing lilies can be extremely dangerous in a household with pets.  Dogs and cats can both become ill from ingesting lilies, however, felines are significantly more susceptible to the toxic effects.  In cats, ingestion of this plant can cause severe renal failure.  Dogs tend to exhibit signs of gastrointestinal upset.  The Liliaceae family contains many genera.  We are concerned with those in the Lilium (true lilies) and Hemerocallis (day lilies) genera.  The following are the most common types that cause illness:
Asiatic, Asiatic hybrid, tiger, Easter, stargazer, rubrum, red, wester, wood
day, orange day, early day
Any cat that is exposed to lilies requires veterinary care.  The flowers are considered the most toxic portion, but ingestion of the other portions can also cause renal failure.  Cats rubbing up against the lily can receive toxic effects by transferring the plant residue to their mouths via grooming.  It is imperative that you bring your cat into the hospital immediately if you are concerned about any exposure.  The most common clinical signs seen include lethargy, vomiting, and anorexia.  Usually these signs are witnessed within two hours of exposure.  While this is occurring, damage to the kidneys has likely begun.  Acute renal failure can occur within 12-36 hours if left untreated, which can progress to death.  Other signs you may see include weakness, polyuria/polydipsia (increased water consumption and urination), lack of urination, ataxia (wobbly gait), hypersalivation (excess saliva production), and occasionally seizures.  
Your veterinarian will begin with complete bloodwork and urinalysis to get baseline values at admission.  It is common to see increases in the kidney values and electrolyte changes.  The urine may be dilute and show the presence of casts, which indicate damage to the renal cells.  Hospitalization is necessary to provide intravenous fluids for kidney diuresis.  Your veterinarian may also induce vomiting if this is a recent ingestion and the patient has not already vomited on their own.  Activated charcoal is given to help bind residual toxin in the stomach.   Cats will stay in the hospital on average for at least 48-72 hours.  Renal values are checked daily during that time, along with analysis of the urine.  Gastroprotectant medication is also given to protect the GI tract, including anti-nausea and antacid injections.  
If the kidney values remain normal and there is no evidence of renal failure after intravenous fluid diuresis for 48-72 hours, the patient can be discharged and monitored at home.  Recheck bloodwork and urinalysis is advised.  However, in cases where the patients have evidence of renal failure, additional hospitalization is required for further IV fluid therapy.  These cats may have residual kidney damage and require closer monitoring by the veterinarian after discharge.  Patients that develop decreased urine production or completely stop making urine despite fluid therapy have a poor prognosis.  These patients will usually require dialysis and possibly renal transplantation if they are candidates.  
The best way to prevent lily toxicosis for your feline friend is to not keep plants that contain lilies in the house.  While keeping the arrangements on high shelves and counters may seem like a feasible alternative, you have to remember that cats are jumpers and climbers.  They do seem to be attracted to these plants and may seek them out.  Educating family members and friends about the danger of lilies in homes with cats is the key to prevention.  Please contact Poison Control or your veterinarian with any additional questions.  
This article is intended for educational purposes only.  Please see your veterinarian immediately in the event that your pet becomes ill and needs medical care.  

 Jacklyn Johns, DVM

*Gwaltney-Brant, Sharon, Lily Toxicosis, Associate Database VIN, 10/10/2015

What Our Cats Are Saying When They Meow

VSSF Admin - Sunday, March 20, 2016

Did you know that cats meow to people, but not to other cats?

Ever wondered what you cat is trying to tell you? Understanding your cat is an important part of your relationship. By looking at their vocal patterns, you can begin to recognize your cat’s communication techniques. Explore the meaning behind your cat’s meow and find out what they’re trying to tell you.

What does meowing mean?

Cats speak to each other through scent, facial expression, complete body language and touch. Meowing however is a language developed exclusively for humans. The only meowing done amongst cats is done between a mother and her kittens. Kittens use their tiny meows to get attention from their mother, which is why once they’re grown, the meows stop.

Cats meow to people for similar reasons. Your cat depends on you and has learned that you do not respond to scent messages or body language. They use meowing as a way to communicate and scientists believe they have refined this language to specifically converse with humans.

What do the different sounds mean?

There are dozens of meow sounds in the cat language that vary in pitch, length and volume. A short, high-pitched meow is your standard ‘hello’, while a drawn out mrrrooowww is a demand for something like ‘open the door NOW’. By paying attention to the different meow sounds, you’ll be able to find out what your cat's trying to say.

Pleasant sounding meows are generally used as requests for food or attention, whereas unpleasant meowing is usually reserved for demands or to express annoyance. It should come as no surprise that ‘cat people’ understand these often subtle differences in tone and pitch better than others.

Decipher your cat’s language:

Short meow or mew: Standard greeting. “Hello!”

Multiple meows or mews: Excited greeting. “Great to see you!”

Mid-pitch meow: Plea for something. “I’d like to eat.”

Drawn-out mrrroooow: Demand for something. “Open the door NOW.”

Low-pitch mrrrooooowww: Complaint of a wrong you have done. “Hey – my bowl is still empty!”

High-pitch RRRROWW!: Anger or pain. “That’s my TAIL you just stepped on!”

Is your cat a chatterbox?

Excessive meowing is often because the cat has learnt that this type of nagging behaviour will get them what they want. In this situation, the best thing to do is to ignore their cries. Your cat is used to getting what they want when they meow, so only give them food when they’re quiet. Make sure you give them plenty of attention when they are quiet and none when they meow excessively.

By Purina Pet Care


Spring Training For You and Your Pet

VSSF Admin - Friday, March 11, 2016

Experts say that about 60 % of all adult dogs are overweight or likely to end up overweight due to activity level. You can tell if your dog is overweight with a “rib check.” When you run your hands over your dog, you should be able to feel his ribs and actually see a waistline.

Get out and exercise Spring is just around the corner and the days are longer, it’s time to get outside and get some exercise – for both of you. Young and middle-aged dogs should be exercised for at least 20 to 30 minutes each day. That exercise can be divided into two brief sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each.

Exercise can include a brisk walk, an active game of fetch in the backyard, a romp with canine friends at the local dog park.

If you like to take your pet running or jogging with you, remember that asphalt and other hard surfaces can be damaging on your pet’s paws and joints. Choose soft surfaces. Also remember it may be spring, but it still gets hot. It's best to exercise in the early morning or early evening to avoid heat stroke. Always make sure you have plenty of water for you and your fur baby to stay hydrated. If you see your dog starting to pant heavily and salivate it is time to stop offer water and cool down. If your not in a fenced in area always have your dog on a leash. You may think they will never leave your side, but all it takes is a cat or squirrel to cross their path and they are lost or even worse hit by a car. If your dog isn’t accustomed to strenuous exercise, start slowly. A training regimen can consist of running or walking your dog around your neighborhood, increasing the distance as you and your dog become conditioned. 

So get out there and enjoy this time of the year. It is exercise for you and your fur baby, but for them it is just fun with their human! Your fur baby will thank you!

Dangers Of A Retractable Leash

VSSF Admin - Monday, February 29, 2016

Here's a great article by Dr. Becker of Healthy Pets

A retractable leash is not so much a leash as it is a length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. The handles of most retractable leashes are designed to fit comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls how much of the cord is extended.

Retractable leashes are popular primarily because they aren't as confining as regular leashes, allowing dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks. But unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of leash.

10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash

  1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.
  2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It's much easier to regain control of – or protect -- a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he's 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
  3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.
  4. If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, "road rash," broken bones, and worse.
  5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
  6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to "fight back."
  7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
  8. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog's fear is then "chasing" her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can't escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.
  9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.
  10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven't been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.
  11. If your dog is well trained, gentle mannered and smart enough to master a regular leash and a retractable leash without being confused, you could be one of the rare guardians that can walk your pooch on any kind of leash without increasing risks to either one of you.

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