If not used properly, collars can lead to injuries to the trachea, neck and eyes and may even cause death. Here are some important issues to consider before collaring our animal companions.

•Don’t collar an outdoor cat: An outdoor cat (i.e. one that you feed once in a while, but lives outdoors and is dependent on natural prey such as rodents) is at risk of strangulation by the collar if he gets it caught in a branch. Outdoor cats that have bells added to the collar might have the additional problem of being unable to hunt effectively, as their prey might be alerted by the sound of the bell.

•Avoid collaring young kittens and pups on the street if you are not adopting them: Putting ribbons or collars around the necks of young / baby animals is highly risky if they are on the street and are likely to wander off, or be picked up by passersby and left elsewhere. As they grow, the loop around their neck will tighten and cause serious injury or death. Collar them only after they find safe foster care or permanent homes where they will not be allowed out of sight.

•The ideal collar tightness level for your pet: If you have a companion animal that is strictly an indoor pet, collaring him and adding a metal identity tag with your number on it is important, as it will help return him to you safely if he goes missing. This can also be done for fully-grown outdoor dogs that you feed. Says Dr. Afzal Mohamed, senior veterinarian, “A collar should be snug enough not to slip over the dog's head. As a general rule of thumb, there should be a two finger gap between the collar and the neck at its tightest point”.

•Say no to choke collars: “There is no substitute for a patient, gentle approach to training and I do not recommend the use of choke collars,” says Dr. Afzal. “Unfortunately, people abuse choke collars and this can lead to a whole lot of problems including injuries to the trachea, neck, eyes etc. There are other more gentle methods to teach a dog not to pull on the leash while walking, such as a front attachment harness or a Martingale collar.”