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    How to Wash a Dog Collar

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Dogs are more than just pets. They become beloved family members we cherish and care for. Because of this, keeping our dogs safe should always be a top priority. A proper dog collar can keep your dog out of trouble. It keeps the dog secured to the leash, so the dog won’t run away when going for a walk. Should your dog get lost, the collar can provide critical identification so they can be returned to your family.

    A good dog collar should be secure and comfortable for your dog. It should also be kept clean and in good repair.

    Benefits of washing your dog’s collar

    Washing your dog’s collar provides many benefits, both for your dog and for you. Washing your dog’s collar can help keep your pet safer, because a dirty collar may not work properly. The leash or ID tag that comes with your dog’s collar and other accessories are commonly washed. Handwashing your dog’s coat can help keep your pet clean and shiny. So why not hand wash the collar while you are at it?

    A collar with a no-pull, flat, or rounded design means that your dog won’t run away when on a leash. Ensuring these collars are clean and working properly is also a good way to make sure your pet is more comfortable when on a leash.

    Keeping your dog’s collar clean is essential. When you take your dog on a walk or to the beach, you might need a waterproof collar with no room for the dog to slip out.

    Dirt and dust collect on dog leashes. Your dog will also need a clean and proper leather or nylon dog collar that keeps things fresh. Leather can be easier to wash, but it’s difficult to dry. So instead of putting a leather dog collar on your water-loving dog, you might use a nylon or waterproof dog collar.

    There are also collars available for your dog’s neck that you can use to help keep your pet from pulling on the leash. However, choke chains and prong collars are considered dangerous for dogs, so harnesses or martingale collars are better options. 

    While these different types of collars fit around the head and neck of a dog differently, they will still work and smell better when they are regularly cleaned and properly maintained.

    How to clean a dog collar

    Dog collars can collect dirt and grime over the course of wearing. Additionally, sweat from the dog can build up inside the collar and make it smell. Additionally, the collar may collect bacteria over time from the natural play and habits of the dog. Therefore, it is important to clean your dog’s collar on a regular basis.

    As with almost all collars and leashes, you can usually wash your dog’s collar by using dish soap. When the collar gets dirty, rinsing the collar with water will help remove any musty smells. You can try a dog shampoo or cleaning solution. Some products can help keep your dog collar shiny and have more lasting qualities than others.

    For a martingale collar, wet the collar and use some mild soap. Allow your dog collar to air-dry. Do not air-dry if your dog’s collar has a small hole or a buckle that could rust. In this case, use a towel to thoroughly dry the metal parts before allowing the rest of the collar to air-dry.

    Rub the collar with mild soap, dog shampoo, or leather conditioner until it becomes soft on your dog’s neck. You do not want to use bleach on the collar, as it can be toxic to dogs. You can clean any exposed parts with soap and warm water.

    You can also wipe the collar with a damp cotton ball to remove any dirt from the collar itself.

    Thoroughly clean your dog’s leash using a soft-bristled brush or kitchen sponge. 

    For an unfinished leather dog collar, you can use castile soap or saddle soap. Use dish soap or baking soda for nylon or fiber collars.

    For a waterproof dog collar, rub the collar as you normally would a leather collar, using a soft brush or damp cloth to gently wipe away any dirt and moisture.

    To clean your dog’s harness along the length of the dog’s neck, follow the label instructions. Dog harnesses may be put in the washing machine, but check the directions to be sure. You do not want the harness to shrink too much in the wash. If you have a dog harness, wrap the collar around the neckline and keep the buckle attached so it’s a little loose to check for shrinkage.

    What kind of detergent should you use on a dog collar?

    Many people wonder what kind of detergent they should use to clean a dog collar. Generally speaking, a mild laundry or dishwashing detergent should be OK. It depends on whether your pet is dealing with sensitive skin. Things like shampoo and soap can be irritating to sensitive skin.

    To help your pet avoid a skin reaction, you can use special detergents and soaps that are designed for sensitive pets. Baby shampoo or detergents that are safe for babies are typically safe for pets. Look for detergents that are free of harsh chemicals, unnecessary dyes, and synthetic fragrances. Stronger laundry detergents or special formulations can be too harsh for dogs and are best avoided when it comes to cleaning items a dog wears.

    For a sensitive dog wearing a leather dog collar, mild detergent, saddle soap, or castile soap should be OK but test a small amount first. It might also be better to use the stronger soap on the outside of the leather dog collar and use a pet-safe mild soap for the collar’s inside.

    Dog collars can get smelly over time, but do not be tempted to fix this by adding a harsh fragrance to the collar. This includes synthetic perfumes, as well as essential oils.

    You may think essential oils are safe because they are “natural,” but they are not safe for pets! Essential oils can be toxic to dogs and can kill dogs if applied directly to the skin. So never, ever use essential oils to try to make a dog collar smell better. Be careful of any natural cleaning product that appears to use an excessive amount of essential oils, especially if the product is formulated with undiluted essential oils.

    If you are concerned you got some sort of soap or fragrance embedded into the dog collar, try rinsing out the collar multiple times in some warm to hot water. Let the dog collar dry first and give it the sniff test before putting it back on your dog. If you still smell a strong fragrance and you have a sensitive dog, you might try cleaning the collar again with some milder soap.

    Note that essential oils do not dilute in water but need to be broken down by oil. Therefore, if you spilled an essential oil on the collar, you would need to use soap with some sort of oil in it to break up the essential oil. Once you have rewashed the dog collar or harness, rinse the collar out with water again multiple times. If the chemical smell or fragrance persists, you might simply need to purchase a new collar.

    How to know when a dog collar should be replaced

    You should inspect your dog’s collar regularly to make sure it isn’t fraying or breaking apart. The last thing you want is to be taking your dog for a walk and the collar to break just as a large dog comes rambling by. Additionally, your dog’s collar should fit snugly, but not too tightly as to choke the dog. This is especially important when using a leash with the dog collar.

    If your dog is getting choked when it pulls on the leash during a walk, it might be a good idea to get a replacement collar. Flat collars are sometimes better in this regard than rounded or rolled collars. A harness that fits around the front of the chest can also take the pressure off the neck. These harnesses do not resolve the issue of a dog aggressively pulling on the leash, but they at least keep the dog from choking itself when it pulls. This can be important for your dog’s long-term health and well-being.

    How you deal with problems with your dog’s collar will depend on the manufacturer. If you’re dealing with a microchip collar, use a mild soap to clean it first to identify the broken part, and then replace it quickly. If your dog collar is nylon, use a pen to write your phone number and the name of your veterinarian on the inside if the microchip on your pet isn’t working. 

    A training collar or a small dog collar is designed to assist in training your pet for obedience or to reduce fearful behavior. These are often easier to replace than fix. 

    For the replacement collar or harness, consider measuring your dog’s neck first to ensure your pet’s collar will fit properly, not fall off, and not hurt your dog. If the problem is with the size of your pet’s collar, you may be able to use a clip or attachment to adjust it. Sometimes, however, it is best to simply buy a new collar rather than try to improvise a better fit on a dog collar.

    For a collar that looks more fashionable, consider a collar or a harness made of colorful nylon or leather. For an all-around adjustable dog collar, you may want to use a flat collar with an attached leash. A harness should be adjustable and accommodate your animal’s head, neck, and torso.

    A martingale collar helps reduce leash-pulling behavior while not harming the dog’s neck. This type of dog collar can help calm a dog more than a standard nylon dog collar. It probably should be replaced instead of repaired. 

    If you have been a pet owner with a lost pet, you know that collars can be important. Make sure both the buckle and leash are secured correctly to avoid losing the collar or the harness.

    A microchip or ID tag is important to attach to your dog’s collar for identification, but a choke chain used to restrain a dog is not acceptable these days. Thus, replace any old choke chains with modern martingale collars if you need to train your dog.

    A dog collar is the first line of defense in keeping your dog safe. If it is fitted properly and kept clean, your dog’s collar should last for a while, even years. Regularly clean and inspect your dog’s collar for any fraying or loose buckles. When in doubt, replace the dog collar. By wearing a secure, clean, modern dog collar, your dog will be safer and smell better too!

    Tractor Supply can make life easier for you & your pets. TSC offers a variety of pet supplies, including a wide selection of dog collars, harnesses and leashes for your favorite four-legged friends. Subscribe to our autoship program and receive regular deliveries of food, treats, flea & tick preventatives, supplements and more, all while saving you time and money.