Retractable Leashes Put People and their Pets at Risk

Retractable leashes may seem harmless, but they are the culprits of many injuries each year.

As seen lining the aisles of pet stores and in the hands of many pet owners, retractable leashes house 20-30 feet of nylon cord inside colorful plastic handles. Convenient for many people and their pups, retractable leashes have been the go-to leads for some 15 years.

Marketed for their ability to give canines additional space and roaming freedom, retractable leashes have been putting traditional “one-length” leashes and leads to shame.

But all that glitters is not gold for these popular leashes. Beneath those handy handles lay numerous safety hazards for you and your four-legged friend.

Risks to pet owners

Surprisingly, retractable leashes lead to many accidents and injuries to humans each year including:

  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Injuries sustained from tripping/being entangled by the leash
  • Amputations

In 2007 there were 16,564 hospital-treated injuries associated with leashes, according to Consumer Union‘s analysis of statistics collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Of those injuries, about 10.5 percent involved children 10 and younger; 23.5 percent involved injuries to the finger, according to a Consumer Reports article.

Flexi leashes provide safety warnings, but these instructions are rarely enough to reduce injuries.

Though the big name brands such as Flexi do provide warnings in the package and online, the alerts are not enough to lower the risk to human injury.

“I got tangled in my dog’s leash  as she took off after a squirrel, and I ended up with a  leash burn on the back of my leg,” said Allison Evans, 22. “I still have a faint scar.”

Numerous entanglements such as this occur daily, and the size of the dog at the end of the leash does not matter. Little pups can cause big injuries, too, if tethered to retractable leases.

Risks to pets

Man’s best friend suffers from many of the same injuries as humans from the pesky leashes.

Many dogs suffer from neck and shoulder injuries due to the sudden pull back motion that occurs when the leash’s length is fully extended.

Additionally, the perk of retractable leashes–the extended roaming–is what causes most of leash-related injuries for our four-legged friends.

Many pups are injured as they dart out into streets or round blind corners far ahead of their owners. Dogs also sustain injuries from becoming entangled in the thin cord leash.

Vets Against Retractable Leashes

Many veterinarians are now crusading against retractable leashes, pointing out the dangers and urging owners to stay away.

Susan Wilner, a veterinarian at Skycrest Animal Clinic in Long Grove, IL, says that she and virtually all of her colleagues recommend using a “six foot leather or nylon lead.”

“We don’t mean to offend any our clients who use [retractable leashes], but they are just unsafe.”

The cause of many safety risks, the vets at Skycrest attribute the injuries of pups and people to the following retractable leash defects:

  • Thin nylon cords that aren’t strong enough to properly restrain canines and can easily break.
  • The thin cord is extremely hard to see, leading to tripping and entanglement.
  • Excessively long leashes offer little to no control over the tethered pup.

Vets agree that not only should pet owners steer clear of retractable leashes, but they should also educate themselves and their pups in proper leash etiquette.

Obedience classes will aid pet owners and their four-legged friends in basic commands to help eliminate injuries on walks.

If you still stand behind your retractable leash, make sure to familiarize yourself with the safety warnings. Or, check out this video for tips on how to correctly and safely use the leash:

Peace, Love, and Walking Woofs.

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons.


One response to “Retractable Leashes Put People and their Pets at Risk

  1. My 60 lb dog was on a flexible leash, saw a rabbit and took off with a sudden jerk resulting in a rotator cuff tear for me. I’ll never use one again.

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