Retractable Leashes – Use at Your Own Risk

Retractable Leashes – Use at Your Own Risk Photo (cc) by Jinx!

Eye injuries, burns, facial lacerations, broken teeth and amputations – the apparent dangers of using retractable dog leashes. Sounds terrible, right?

Heather Todd would agree. While walking her dog Penny near Boston, the retractable leash Todd was using looped around her index finger and severed it when Penny started running, according to Consumer Reports.

“It just cut it off like a sharp knife,” Todd says.

Doctors were unable to reattach the finger, said CR.

Burns and cuts are the most common injuries associated with the leashes, but Germany-based leash manufacturer Flexi includes a frightening list of potential injuries on a Web page devoted solely to special precautions and leash directions. Among them:

  • Finger amputations and fractures.
  • Eye and facial injuries, including broken teeth, cuts, bruises and eye damage.
  • Falls.
  • Injuries to bystanders.

Many pet experts warn against using retractable leashes. Florida veterinarian Dr. Lisa Radosta, in a post on petMD, described a number of reasons why she thinks the leashes are not a good alternative for many dog owners. But she said the leashes may be a good option for some dogs.

Older dogs who don’t pull and are well-mannered are good candidates for these leashes. Of course, even older, well-mannered dogs should be kept on 4- to 8-foot leashes if they are in busy areas so that they don’t get into trouble.

I’ve used retractable leashes with my two big dogs. We’ve had no injuries, besides a minor hand burn. But sometimes I forget that I don’t have the leash in the “lock” position and at the first sight of a rabbit or another dog, my dogs will bolt, and it’s difficult to reel the leash back in quickly.

Were you surprised by the nature of injuries from retractable dog leashes? Do you use a retractable leash? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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