There is a hidden danger facing dogs, and it’s something that we use everyday and generally don’t give a second thought to. Dog collars. They’re injuring and even killing our canine companions, but there’s an incredibly easy way to protect your dogs.

I learned a scary lesson about three years ago, but it could have turned out much worse. One spring day, I called my dogs to come outside so we could go to the park. My older dog Daisy came right away, but Rosie was nowhere to be found. I called her again and again. “What is she doing?” I thought. This was unlike her.

I decided to go back into the house and see what was going on. When I entered the living room, I got a scary surprise. Rosie was stuck to her bed. The culprit? The “S” connector on her collar, which had gotten tangled in the threads of her bed. This was a scary and eye opening moment. If I had not been at home with my dogs, Rosie could have potentially been stuck for hours. She could have injured or even strangled herself while struggling to break free.

Ironically, just a few weeks later I read an article about the dangers of leaving a collar on an unsupervised dog. I learned that Rosie was not the first dog to get her collar stuck, and other dogs had already died in their struggle to break loose. That’s when I decisively¬† ditched collars for good in my home and yard. Now, I only put the collars on my dogs when we are going out for a walk or heading to another public space. I do this to protect the health and wellbeing of my faithful canine companions.

The danger of dogs and collars really hit home about a year ago. One day, a friend told me that his wife’s small dog had passed away. I assumed it was due to old age, but a few days later he disclosed the reason: her collar had gotten stuck between two boards on their porch while she was outside and she had strangled herself to death in just a matter of minutes. My friend’s daughter, who had let the dog out into their yard that day, suffered increased emotional distress from the situation because she thought the dog’s death was her fault. It was an incredibly unfortunate situation, but it reinforced my stand on no collars in the home or (enclosed) yard. My co-worker said that their family veterinarian told them that the situation was all too common.

So this is my simple advice: if your dogs are in the home, take their collar off to protect them. There is absolutely no reason your dog needs a collar and identification while inside your home. On the plus side, your dog will get extra excited when you pull that collar out for walks. They’ll associate their collar with going outside (on “bye byes” as we call it here), and it will brighten their day, safely.