Why Retractable Leashes Are Dangerous at a Veterinary Hospital

Retractable leashes (Flexi leads) are very popular for walking dogs and provide wonderful benefits to dogs when used in the right environment. These types of leashes are designed to give dogs the freedom to roam and explore, but this design can cause problems in enclosed spaces, situations where you cannot give your dog your full attention, or areas that are shared by other families with pets. An animal hospital is one of these places where injuries from retractable leashes are increased. At Animal Hospital of North Asheville, we allow only standard 6 foot leashes (non-retractable) to help prevent injuries to you and your dog.

INJURIES TO PEOPLE AND PETS:  The thin rope-like cord of the retractable leash can cause severe burns, deep cuts, entanglement or strangulations. It can even cause amputation to limbs and fingers of both humans and pets. If the cord portion of the leash is grabbed while it is being pulled, the chance of injuries increases greatly. Hands and legs tend to receive the most traumas. The leash can cause people to trip and break bones and hips. If two dogs on retractable leashes get tangled, there is an even higher risk of injury to the dogs or to the humans attempting to untangle them. Tangled dogs are more fearful and unpredictable, creating an increased risk of bites or cord injuries. The cord can be wrapped around a neck or leg cutting off circulation of blood flow and oxygen.

DROPPED LEASHES AND FATAL ACCIDENTS:  Some dogs will bolt if they are scared, excited, or trying to chase an animal. The sudden force of a dog pulling can jolt a leash from a hand. The built in locks on a retractable leash tend to break or wear out allowing loss of control. The combination of loss of control and a split second pulling of a dog can allow them to break free and end up on the middle of oncoming traffic or in contact with another dog. Some dogs are strong enough to pull their families off their feet or break the cords and run into traffic resulting in a serious or fatal injury.

ANIMAL CONFRONTATIONS:  In limited spaces, such as a veterinary reception area, the “roaming” dog can have unwanted or harmful encounters with other animals. In new or different environments, many dogs are stressed. In veterinary hospitals, dogs may not be feeling well, may be painful or overstimulated, and may not behave as they would at home. Dogs can react in a defensive manner leading to injury. A painful dog may react in a way to protect itself. Some dogs also can be protective of their family. Even healthy and friendly dogs may not be receptive to another dog running up to say “hello.” And most cats do not appreciate a nosy dog trying to check them out, which can happen in the parking lot or even when a dog on an unlocked leash goes over to the cat waiting area. This can increase the cat’s fear. These negative interactions can cause either member of the encounter to have a fearful and stressed visit, which is not good for the health of the pet.

We at the Animal Hospital of North Asheville want to provide a safe and fear free visit for your canine friend. Our staff members are always carefully watching to help prevent unpleasant confrontations between patients, but when a dog is on a retractable leash, our staff cannot tell how long the leash may be and cannot act to prevent a problem. So please do not use retractable leashes at Animal Hospital of North Asheville for the safety of your pet. If you arrive and realize that you only have a retractable leash with you to use for your pet’s visit, we are happy to provide a fixed length leash. Just ask any member of the staff. Thank you so much for cooperating and protecting our patients and clients from harm.