Why Do Vets Use Slip Leads? (Solved & Explained!)

You may have read about slip leads being potentially dangerous for dogs, like choke chains and prong collars. So, you may be wondering why your veterinarian uses slip leads on the dogs at the office. While slip leads have the potential to be dangerous, they are not inherently so, and vets actually use them for simplicity and safety.

The rest of this article will detail what a slip lead is, why veterinarians use them, what other uses slip leads have, and whether you should use one on your dog.

What is a slip lead?

A slip lead is an all-in-one collar and leash. It is a leash that loops in on itself, and the loop at the end fits over your dog’s head like a collar. Due to the way the leash is connected, the loop will automatically tighten around your dog’s neck when pulled, similar to a choke chain.

Why do vets use slip leads?

Veterinarians use slip leads for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they are easy and convenient to quickly slide over a dog’s head. At the vet, many dogs become fearful or reactive, and it can be dangerous for a vet or technician to attempt to secure your dog by reaching for his collar. Slip leads are also useful for securing and transporting dogs in emergency situations.

Who else uses slip leads?

In addition to veterinarians, many dog trainers use slip leads as training devices. As long as the slip lead is being used correctly and under professional supervision, it is not cruel for your dog.

Many animal shelters will also use slip leads, as they are often dealing with stray dogs or dogs who need to be transported quickly and efficiently. Lastly, some individuals do use slip leads on their dogs, although this is hardly ever necessary.

Are slip leads cruel?

No, slip leads are not inherently cruel as long as they are used properly and responsibly. They can, however, be dangerous if used in the wrong situation, such as in an attempt to stop a dog from pulling on the leash. Since they will not stop tightening if pulled, they can cause injury to your dog.

Will a slip lead choke my dog?

As long as they are used correctly, a slip lead will not choke your dog. However, the potential is there for injury or even asphyxiation if you or the dog pulls too hard on the slip lead. Slip leads can be dangerous if your dog has a habit of pulling on the leash, or if he is especially reactive to things such as cars or wildlife.

If your dog lunges suddenly—for example, if he decides to chase something—he could injure himself. There are even cases of dogs getting severe whiplash from being pulled back by the neck.

Should I use a slip lead on my dog?

There is more than likely no reason for you to use a slip lead on your dog. Even if your dog is trained not to pull on a leash, no dog is perfect, and there is always a danger that your dog may suddenly lunge or run and risk injuring himself.

However, you may desire to keep a slip lead on hand just in case you ever need it for quickly securing a stray dog or a dog who does not wish to be caught. If your dog is reactive or anxious, a slip lead may be a good tool to keep in your arsenal.

Why won’t a slip lead help my dog stop pulling on the leash?

Dogs pull for many different reasons, but one of them is an opposition reflex called thigmotaxis. Thigmotaxis means that your dog instinctively desires to pull against pressure. So, your dog may actually pull harder against a slip lead, even if it is choking him. This can cause severe injury to his sensitive neck.

Additionally, your dog will most likely not understand that pulling is what is causing the choking. To stop your dog from pulling on the leash, you need to address the root causes of the pulling.

How do I put a slip lead on a dog?

If you do need to put a slip lead on a dog, make sure you are doing so safely and correctly.

First, make sure that the loop is wide enough to fit over the dog’s head.

Next, ensure that you are not sneaking up on the dog. If you catch them by surprise, this can increase the risk of the dog startling and pulling hard against the slip lead, possibly causing choking or further injury.

Finally, once you place the slip lead over the dog’s head, ensure that it is positioned correctly. It is better to position the slip lead at the top of the dog’s neck, just beneath the jaw. If the slip lead is positioned too low, it can increase the risk of injury to the soft parts of the neck.

How do I remove a slip lead from a dog?

Slip leads were never designed to be used as long-term leashes for a dog. They should be put on, used to transport the dog to wherever it needs to go, and then promptly removed.

The trouble is that many of the dogs for whom a slip lead is necessary will make it quite difficult to remove them. If a dog is aggressive or anxious, it may not allow you to get close enough to loosen the slip lead.

In order to safely remove it, you can attach a string to the ring which slides to tighten the loop. When you are ready to remove the slip lead from the dog’s neck, simply pull on the string to loosen the lead. Then, you can easily slide it back over the dog’s head.

What are some alternatives to slip leads?

If you are using a slip lead to easily secure and transport dogs, there may be no suitable alternative. If you were planning to use a slip lead as a training device, however, you may be able to get the intended effect with something like a head collar or body harness.

These devices may be used to stop your dog from pulling on the leash without the risk of choking from a slip lead.