The importance of pet collars

Though it may be tempting to take your pet’s collar off when inside your home, it’s important that your pet wears a collar both indoors and out. Accidents can happen when you least expect it and it’s best to be prepared. Just as a smoke alarm is a safety device to protect you and your family, a collar and ID tag is a safety device to protect your pet. You shouldn’t take a collar off your pet any more than you would take the batteries out of your smoke alarm.

How to fit a collar

  • Adjust the collar for a comfortable, yet snug fit around your pet’s neck.
  • See how many fingers you can fit between the collar and your pet’s neck. You should be able to get one finger under the collar for cats, two fingers for dogs.
  • Finally, check to make sure it’s not so loose that it can slip over the pet’s head.

Proper collar maintenance

Once a month, or once a week for puppies and kittens, check your pet’s collar to ensure it still has the proper fit. Check your pet’s collar for signs of wear and tear as well. If it looks like it is getting frayed and may fall apart, drop by Animal Humane Society to purchase a new one.

Collar FAQs

Why should my pet wear a collar and ID tag indoors?

Accidents happen. Someone might leave a door open or your pet might unexpectedly run outside when you leave for work. Even if you're careful, these things happen more often than you may think. In fact, 41 percent of all cats reported missing are indoor-only cats.

Having an ID tag on your pet is a crucial part of any emergency preparedness plan. If there is an emergency — tornado, fire, break-in, etc. — you may not be able to get your pet to safety.

No matter the circumstance, an ID tag will increase your chances of being reunited with your pet.

My pet is microchipped. Isn’t that enough?

While microchips are useful in reuniting pets with their owners, an ID tag is the fastest and easiest way for your lost pet to get home. There are a lot of people who will help out if they see a lost pet. However, few (if any!) carry around a microchip scanner in their pocket. An ID tag will give them a way to contact you right away and ensure your pet is back safely in your home as soon as possible.

An ID tag also identifies that your lost pet has a family that is missing them. This is especially important for cats as it prevents people from assuming your cat is just an outdoor cat and is not in need of assistance.

What type of collar do you recommend?

We recommend the standard adjustable plastic clip or buckle collar. A study by Dr. Linda Lord of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine showed that traditional collars are just as safe as breakaway collars and possibly slightly MORE safe. Some breakaway collars break apart too easily and often, causing frustration for pet and their people. This makes well-fitting traditional collars the better option. For dogs with narrow heads (i.e. Greyhounds, Whippets, etc.) we recommend a Martingale collar.

We do not recommend elastic collars (which tend to stretch over time, losing their proper fit) or choke collars.

Are collars safe? What if they get snagged on something?

Studies have proven that properly fitted collars pose very minimal risk for causing injuries. The risks of being a lost pet are far greater. Nationwide, less than 2% of stray cats entering a shelter get reunited with their family and less than 10% of lost dogs return home on their own.

Also, while the risks of wearing a collar are very minimal, you can lower that risk even more by choosing an appropriate collar and ensuring a proper fit.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline