Not too loose and not too tight

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

Ruby re­turned home af­ter be­ing miss­ing for 3 days. An all too com­mon sce­nario for some cat own­ers. But un­for­tu­nately lit­tle Ruby had her front leg stuck through her col­lar. Col­lars are a great way of iden­ti­fy­ing your dog or cat should they go miss­ing es­pe­cially when com­bined with an ID or reg­is­tra­tion tag. But we see many col­lars fit­ted too loosely which has the po­ten­tial for dis­as­ter. Ruby had put her front leg through her col­lar and as a re­sult the col­lar had grad­u­ally made a deep wound in her armpit which had be­come in­fected. We ad­mit­ted Ruby in to the hos­pi­tal and soon had her sound asleep in or­der to shave and clean the area. These wounds take a long time to heal and re­quire daily care and long term an­tibi­otics as the wound is in a warm moist area un­der the armpit. I have in pre­vi­ous cases had to per­form skin grafts and sur­gi­cal skin ma­nip­u­la­tions to get sim­i­lar wounds to heal. Ruby stayed with us for a week and re­turned home with strict in­struc­tions to stay at home for at least 3 more weeks and to take her an­tibi­otics twice a day. Skin edges grow at a very slow rate but once mov­ing the wound un­der Ruby’s armpit be­gan to look much bet­ter. Now, one month on, there is only a small area left to heal and Ruby is al­most ready to start go­ing on short ad­ven­tures out­side. Dogs are not ex­empt from the dis­as­trous po­ten­tial of loosely fit­ted col­lars. This week one owner de­scribed how his dog slipped his col­lar when out for a walk and was killed by a car. Another poor ca­nine friend was at­tacked badly af­ter a larger ca­nine rel­a­tive slipped its col­lar when out for a walk. Dog col­lars are there so that you can re­strain your friend usu­ally when at­tached to a lead but ev­ery week we see dogs with huge loose col­lars that they could just slip out of, and of­ten do! A par­tic­u­larly sad case came in last week as a re­sult of a mis­take made by some small chil­dren. The kids had placed a rub­ber band on their small dog as a makeshift col­lar but then it had been for­got­ten about. Poor Sid had a deep in­fected wound around his neck that re­quired a long time to clean un­der gen­eral anaes­thetic. But once on med­i­ca­tion in­clud­ing pain re­lief these wounds heal amaz­ingly quickly, and af­ter 2 days in the hos­pi­tal he was re­turned to his fam­ily. We have since seen Sid and his neck looks al­most good as new. Another prob­lem that we see in the warmer months is eczema as­so­ci­ated with par­tic­u­larly leather dog col­lars. When wet and warm the col­lar seems to start a moist skin in­fec­tion un­der the neck. So at these times of year, try to re­mem­ber to take a wet col­lar off to dry com­pletely in the hot wa­ter cup­board overnight be­fore putting it back on. So, no funny sto­ries this month but a few tips to make life safer with col­lars: • When fit­ting a col­lar, al­low only two fin­gers to fit un­der it which should re­sult in a snug but not too tight fit. • Use a re­flec­tive col­lar if pos­si­ble • New neo­prene, fab­ric or soft rub­ber lined col­lars don’t sweat or cause skin ir­ri­ta­tion as damp leather tends to do. • Re­mem­ber to add an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and reg­is­tra­tion tag to the col­lar us­ing a key ring cir­cle. Then you can re­move the tag easily if you change col­lars. • Most cat col­lars are de­signed to re­lease or snap when un­der ex­ces­sive ten­sion. (I have never seen a cat caught in a tree by a col­lar) • Never tie up a dog by a check chain as they can pull up tight. (or as one pa­tient did – the ring dropped down thru the deck­ing slats, turned and the dog was stuck there all day. If you need ad­vice or a prob­lem does hap­pen, give the hos­pi­tal a call on 357 9993. We are open 7 days in­clud­ing Mon­day – Fri­day till 7pm.

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