Are you absolutely sick of trying to apply this topical flea preventative every month, only for it to eventually become useless! Your dog's coat is incredibly thick, making it almost impossible to reach the skin. How the hell do others do this at all?
Of course, chewable foods work great! Because they work so well, the manufacturers want to charge them outrageous amounts, it seems. You can't afford it!
Friends told you to try the flea collar. It's supposed to last 7-8 months, instead of reapplying these topicals every 30 days. Your dog just has to walk around wearing it for the flea collar to work its unknown magic!
How difficult could that be? You quickly rush to your local pet store, only to learn that there isn't just one flea collar, but three different types and multiple brands! All of this can't work, you think.
Which necklace is right for you?
Normally made of plastic, flea collars are collars that dogs wear around their necks intended to ward off or kill fleas. Traditional flea collars will gradually release pesticides intended to poison fleas, but there are several types of flea collars available on the market today.
How do flea collars keep fleas away?
Just looking at them, you would wonder how in the world a dog flea collar is able to offer any real protection. Many vets will recommend ingestible pills to begin with. These same vets will also tell you that certain flea collars will work! Unfortunately, there isn't just one type of collar, so you'll want to make sure and ask which type is best.
These flea collars are meant to repel fleas by emitting high frequency sound waves. These sound waves are meant to be harmless to your dog and the collar itself is chemical free. Their use is controversial, with some sources claiming they simply don't work. There just don't seem to be many published scientific experiments (or any) demonstrating their effectiveness.
On the other hand, it is an alternative method to try if you want to avoid potentially harmful pesticides.
Imagine running home, eager to try out your new flea collar! You are almost full of excitement and can't wait for things to get back to normal. You quickly replace your pet's old collar with the new one and start expecting miracles to happen!
And you keep waiting. And wait. And wait. Several days go by and your dog looks just as miserable as before!
You can't find a single flea around his shoulders or neck, but your precious pup's groin area is covered in them. He is missing huge patches of fur, revealing bald patches of dry, inflamed skin. Some areas began to develop open sores, revealing putrid patches of oozing yellow pus.
Because you trusted an inferior product, your precious pet now has some sort of skin infection in addition to a flea infestation. A gas-based flea collar offers limited protection.
These flea collars for dogs work by releasing a type of gas-based pesticide, ensuring a flea-free zone around the collar itself. Fleas usually have to come into contact with the gas to be affected by it.
Gas-based flea collars aren't the most effective tool because they don't offer complete protection. Fleas near your dog's rear, or even far enough from the collar, will not be affected.
Importance of a good flea collar and risk of a bad collar
Until the type described below became mainstream, most flea collars were frowned upon. As you read above, gas flea collars just don't work well. There is almost no benefit to killing fleas only in a certain area while letting them thrive on the remaining 70% or so of your dog's body.
Realize that the real danger isn't fleas or itching. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, but it's still not much more than a horrible nuisance. Unless you are a small puppy or a toy breed, and any type of blood loss is much more dramatic.
The real danger lies in the secondary infections that develop from these open sores. Once this powerful skin barrier is no longer complete, all kinds of bacteria now have free access to the animal's bloodstream.
Every time your pet takes a walk outside, the dog picks up countless little germs in those dirty fingernails. This flea infestation is itching horribly, so he never thinks twice about scratching those open sores. Now these germs are not just covering your pet's fingernails, but inside their wounds.
How will a vet deal with this?
They will treat the open sores first and then suggest a way to control and then eradicate your flea problem. You can use Dawn dish soap (safe for pets) to bathe the dog and drown the fleas. Be very thorough!
It will not take over the existing parasites, which will attack the vulnerable dog soon after. You either want to treat the dog with a pesticide treatment that will kill any fleas when they bite, or you want to be completely sure that they have been eradicated in your home (unlikely). Flea collars will come in handy.
Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic to kill any unwanted bacteria in these wounds, after cleaning and dressing the wounds if necessary. Your dog may need to wear a cone to avoid biting the injured skin.
Absorption Based - Gold Standard in the Treatment of Flea Collars
Absorption collars are currently the benchmark in flea protection when it comes to dog collars! Like topical treatments, the insecticide in these collars is absorbed through the dog's skin. When the flea or fleas decide to eat a blood meal, they absorb the pesticide and die.
Some absorption-based flea collars for dogs are intended to spread pesticides into the skin's natural oils, killing fleas on contact. This type does not seep into the fat layer under the dog's skin.
Active ingredients based on absorption
Let's take a look at the Bayer Seresto Flea Collar for Dogs as a Standard because it is incredibly popular and widely used. We will discuss the active ingredients, what they are supposed to do, and how well they work. Some details come from EPA, because Seresto is a registered product.
As an insecticide created to mimic nicotine (naturally derived from several plants), imidacloprid has been designed to kill many sucking insects, fleas, ticks, termites and a few others. It has been used in the United States since 1994 and is incorporated in over 400 products sold today.
By disrupting the insect's nervous system, the insecticide prevents normal nerve function. It can also be taken up by plants, killing the insects that feed on it.
It is generally relatively safe for humans as it affects both animals and other mammals to a much lesser extent. However, the EPA has issued warnings for young children "because they spend more time in contact with the ground, their bodies break down chemicals differently and their skin is thinner."
As the most commonly used synthetic insecticide to protect both livestock and pets (dogs) against biting insects, such as certain types of flies, fleas, ticks, etc., flumethrin causes unnatural hyperactivity, leading to paralysis and death. By manipulating the sodium channels, it interferes with the nerve impulses of an insect.
It is very effective against ticks, depending on the amount used. It is normally safe for all dogs when administered slowly from these tick collars for eight months, but can cause harm if too much is used "on the spot" with smaller dogs, or too much in general.
Is it safe?
For example, if the dog's flea collar breaks, it can lead to an overdose. Don't worry though, this is extremely unlikely to happen unless broken intentionally.
An overdose in general (sprays, shampoos, soaps) can be dangerous for small dogs. It is safe in this form of flea collar, very effective against fleas and ticks, and can last for seven to eight months.
Ultimately, these pesticides are safe in small amounts, as long as they don't build up or your pet is overexposed.
How long do flea collars work?
This can vary depending on how the dog flea collar was constructed and its type.
Ultrasonic flea collars typically use batteries, providing approximately 9 to 12 months of battery life depending on the brand. For example, a lithium battery can last around ten months, but can also be difficult to replace or not at all replaceable.
Gas flea collars for dogs just don't work well and are not worth the money you would spend on them. Although fleas will die on contact with the gas, most of them simply will not come in contact with the gas.
As the benchmark for flea collars, absorption-based dog flea collars typically slowly release chemicals in low doses over eight months. The chemicals are absorbed through your dog's skin or secreted oils, killing fleas when they bite.
* Tick-like parasite, also protected by flea collars
How should your dog wear flea collars?
You don't want your pup to be able to take his collar off! A dog's flea collar should fit snugly around his neck (but not too tight!) so he can't scratch it off. The drug must also be able to come into contact with the fur and possibly appear on the skin.
Make sure the collar is not too tight, especially if the dog is not finished growing. When registering with the EPA, Seresto (for example) claimed that their collars could be used with seven week old puppies. This is the absolute first step that a dog owner should consider separating a puppy from its litter mates (preferably eight weeks old), and the puppy has a lot going on.
You want to be able to easily fit two fingers between your flea collar, or any collar, and the dog's neck. You will frequently adjust your collar with puppies and may need to adjust the dosage in larger to giant breeds that reach almost full adult size in just a few months.
Are there natural flea collars for dogs?
Some brands, such as Clément Thékan or Vetoform, offer natural flea collars for dogs. These offer an alternative to try without using pesticides or other chemicals.
Since they do not use harsh chemicals or pesticides, EM collars and high frequency collars could be considered natural alternatives.
How do natural dog flea collars work?
You might want to consider anything that doesn't use any type of chemicals as a natural alternative. For example, the "Nature's Protection" Band Flea Collar is "infused with a natural blend of aromatic herbs and essential oils (Nature's Protection)" and uses Virginia Cedarwood, Peppermint and almond oil as active ingredients.
But do they work? The idea behind this involves fleas to avoid highly fragrant oils, which actually helps. Fleas will prefer to avoid these products, but it would be better used as a preventative rather than a treatment. If your dog is already infested, these scent oils might not be 100% effective.
What if my wife is pregnant or breastfeeding?
Flea collars should not always be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. You cannot use flea shampoo on a pregnant dog, and many treatments, in general, may not be safe.
The Seresto brand claims their flea collar is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, but you always want to see your vet first!
What about precautions with flea collars for dogs?
You always want to wash your hands after touching flea collars for dogs. We humans tend to constantly touch our faces, other humans and our food without thinking, and you don't want to ingest any of the active ingredients.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency warns of the dangers associated with exposure to young children. If you want to try this product but have young or small children in the family, talk to your vet first about potential side effects.
If your dog's flea collar breaks, do not attempt to repair it or continue to use it. The chemicals inside are meant to be administered slowly over time, not all at once.
Small breeds or puppies can overdose when exposed to doses intended for large or giant dog breeds. If you have both in the family, talk to your vet about which flea collar is best for you.
When should you use flea collars?
You really shouldn't trust gas flea collars. High frequency flea collars offer a type of almost holistic alternative to the potentially harmful pesticides offered by an absorption flea collar, but no scientific studies have proven or even supported their full effectiveness.
Flea collars for dogs are a great alternative if you don't want to rely on topical treatments or ingestible pills, and are extremely easy to use! A small dog could overdose if he accidentally takes the "pills" and eats six months' worth of doses at a time (they taste wonderful for dogs so owners can easily give them), but no dog will eat this necklace.
A better question would be, "When should you not use flea collars"? So some dogs have some type of sensitivity or allergy to the ingredients inside.
Are there any side effects or contraindications?
In some rare cases, dogs can suffer from an overdose of pesticides. In the small doses used to kill parasites and offered regularly, your dog will be perfectly fine. If a dog wears a collar designed for a larger breed, or if the collar breaks, your pet may show symptoms of toxicity.
It can also happen if your impatient dog decides to make a chew toy with the collar and eats it.
- Loss of engine control
- Loss of appetite
- Blood pressure changes
What should I do if my dog eats the flea collar?
Before reading below, understand that this is highly unlikely. It is not a natural behavior for a dog to eat his collar, but it can happen under certain circumstances.
You want to call your vet first (or any other vet if you can't get hold of yours). The technician you talk to will likely want you to take your dog out as soon as possible. If it's a weekend, you can't just wait until Monday and you'll need to contact an emergency veterinary hospital.
The technician may recommend force-feeding one teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution per 5 pounds of body weight, maximum of 3 tablespoons for larger dogs. The dog will absolutely hate the taste, but it will force the animal to vomit and expel most of these harmful chemicals. This treatment is only meant to be emergency home treatment when you just can't get to the vet right away and should only be attempted in life-threatening situations.
Your vet will recommend the same if your dog ingests cocoa powder, for example. You still have to go to the vet that day! Your dog may have swallowed sharp pieces of plastic, which could create a huge (even fatal) problem as it moves through the animal's digestive tract.
I don't like the look of my necklace. Can I change the appearance?
Plastic dog flea collars can look very artificial and unappealing. When you think of flea necklaces, you think of natural shades or bright, vibrant colors, not a piece of gray plastic that looks like it must have been from the year 3000.
If you're one of those dog owners who loves the idea of a flea collar but just can't handle the look, take a look at these.
hide-collars / over anti-tick collars! In addition to this nifty “cover” feature, these necklaces also feature natural tick-repelling beads.
You might not like the way your dog's flea collar looks, but these look extremely fashionable, spectacular on any dog!
What do we think works best?
In general, your best option would be a flea collar based on absorption, like a flea collar Seresto Scalibor Protector Band. These collars will slowly release their active ingredients to be absorbed by the dog's skin.
The fleas only need to bite your dog once and they ingest the poison. These chemicals are fine for larger animals, but are very lethal to small biting insects. After biting, the flea will die soon.
Due to the nature of fleas, there will be a lot of them in your home (unless the collar is just used as a preventative). It will take them several days or maybe a few weeks for all of them to die, as the larvae may not all have hatched.
Vacuuming your carpets and washing all clothing and bedding thoroughly will help you remove flea eggs.
A Final Note on the Pros of a Flea Collar for Dogs Versus the Cons
Remember that this will change depending on the type of flea collar you have chosen! In this case, let's say you are using an absorption flea collar, such as Seresto.
Benefits of flea collar
Cons of flea collar
The collars are waterproof
Available in different sizes
Reduces the risk of infection from dog claws and open wounds
Can last 7-8 months
Many have a quick release mechanism if they get stuck
Can be worn with a normal collar
Easier to use than topical treatment
Not as simple as the ingestible pill form
May present small risks to children
Will not kill fleas immediately
Fleas must bite to ingest poison
May pose risks to other smaller dogs or smaller animals, such as cats, etc.