How do Flea Collars Work and Should Your Pet Wear a Flea Collar?


Fleas live for less than a month, but they can make life very uncomfortable for your furball during those few brief weeks.

How you get rid of fleas, though, tends to polarize opinion. While some pet owners swear by flea collars for dogs, others feel these collars are ineffective and dangerous. As usual, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.

So, what are flea collars and how do they actually work?

Read More: How Often Can I Bathe My Dog With Flea Shampoo? Flea baths, along with flea collars, can help to repel fleas and ticks for pets that are not on flea preventative medication. Learn more.

I. How Does a Dog Flea Collar Work?

A flea collar looks like a regular plastic dog collar, and your dog wears it in the same way as a traditional collar.

Unlike standard collars, flea collars work to kill ticks and fleas by the slow release of pesticides and chemicals poisonous to these pests.

You’ll find three main types of flea collars for dogs:

  1. Gas-based collars
  2. Absorption-based collars
  3. High-frequency collars

The older gas-based collars are only effective for killing fleas surrounding the collar itself. The organophosphates these collars contain can provoke toxic reactions in dogs and cats after prolonged exposure. The chemicals are also potentially harmful to humans.

With the more modern flea collars, the collar is impregnated with flea-repellent and tick-repellent chemicals. These are then slow-released from the collar and spread through your furball’s hair, skin, and coat. These collars offer continuous protection all-over.

High-frequency collars are devices that emit ultrasonic frequencies to repel ticks and fleas. You won’t be able to hear the sound yourself, and it won’t disturb your dog either. The jury is out concerning the effectiveness of these collars.

Is it safe for your dog to wear one of these collars at all, though?

II. Is It Safe To Use a Flea Collar on My Pet?

The first thing we’d like to point out is that you should not use a flea collar for your dog if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You’re in control, so if the idea of using any kind of chemicals on Rover puts you off, don’t do it.

Overall, most flea collars are considered generally safe, though. Collars are produced using a safe amount of the active ingredient relative to the size of your pooch. This is why it’s vital to get the right size collar. Using one for a larger dog could be problematic, as more of the chemical will be released. This can lead to skin irritation.

As with any form of medication, your dog could have an adverse reaction to any new flea collar. Monitor your furball’s neck area for the first few days to check up on this.

Keep permethrin collars away from cats. These can be very harmful to felines.

You should also keep an eye out for pets licking or chewing the collars of any other pets in the home.

Puppies, seniors dogs, and pregnant or nursing dogs do not respond well to flea collars so steer clear of them with older, younger, and expectant pups.

If you have children in the house, teach them not to touch the dog’s collar, and instruct them to wash their hands carefully after playing with Rover.

So, is it really worth considering a flea collar as your first line of attack?

III. Should Your Pet Wear a Flea Collar?

The key attraction of flea collars is the fact they are much more cost-effective than many traditional methods of flea control.

Also, flea collars offer a set-and-forget solution, ideal if you’re always crunched for time.

These things come under a fair amount of flak for one main reason: many people consider the drawbacks outweigh the advantages.

The good news is, this is subjective. What works for one pet owner doesn’t work for another. Understanding this and putting it into practice will help you find the best pet equipment the easy way.

The primary disadvantage of these collars is the perceived danger of the chemicals. While these should be safe in the quantities used, this does nothing to persuade pet owners who are chemically-averse from trying them, and nor should it. If you don’t feel comfortable with this form of flea control, don’t use it.

Another snag with flea collars is the fact they don’t offer total protection, despite vigorous marketing claims to the contrary.

If you continually take the collar on and off your dog, or if it gets wet regularly, it will stop working as effectively. Beyond this, fleas can build up immunity to the chemicals used in the collar over time.

Our own take on this issue is that flea collars for dogs can be used as a means of preventing ticks and fleas, but they are certainly not a smart move for all pets in all circumstances. Puppies, seniors, and pregnant or nursing dogs don’t make a smooth fit for these collars.

Also, flea collars typically work best when they are used as one preventative tool in a complete toolbox. Use the collar in combination with other flea control methods and you should find they deliver at least some benefit.

IV. Conclusion

As with all issues blighting your furball, you should always consult with your vet to establish the most effective course of action for your particular dog. All pets are different, and they should be treated as such.

If you decide that flea collars for dogs make the right choice as part of an overarching flea management plan, don’t just fly in and buy the first collar you see. Check the type of collar and the type of chemicals used are appropriate for your furball and read plenty of user reviews.

Always watch closely for the first few days after applying the flea collar. If you don’t notice any effects, or you find your dog experiencing any irritation, sickness, or lethargy, discontinue use and schedule an appointment with your vet.

Before you head off, bookmark BarkVA and be sure to pop back soon!

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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