Do Flea Collars Work?


A flea collar is a tool which is primarily used on cats and dogs to repel and kill fleas and ticks. Worn about the neck, they are designed either to emit a gas to ward off the insects, or to leak a medication into the animal's skin which will kill any fleas which take a bite. Let's take a look at how effective these collars are, and whether or not you should use them.

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How Does A Collar Work?

They are designed to operate one of two ways:

  • repel fleas by emitting a small amount of intolerable gas
  • kill them off by injecting a medicine into the fatty layer beneath the animal’s skin; if a flea bites, it will die from the insecticide.

Many collars will combine both of these techniques to maximise results.

How Effective Are They?

This is the million dollar question. Let's investigate...

Firstly, flea collars use active ingredients which expire after a certain amount of time; you must remember to change collars once they become inert. Worn around the neck, collars have a proven success rate at killing off ticks and fleas in that area. However, on your pet’s belly and rear - where fleas make a habit of congregating - they have minimal effect. They are considered by many to be a useful preventative measure, however they are not ideally suited to combating an infestation which has already taken hold.

The trouble with collars is that they are quite bulky and inflexible. If they are tied too tightly your pet could suffer chafing and fur loss, or in the worst case it could catch on something else and cause them to choke [1]. Too loose and it can come off. As with all technologies, effectiveness comes at a price.

Are They Worth Buying?

The cheapest entries on the market are reviewed as doing little more than bothering the fleas. The priciest options seem almost gimmicky. There is, however, a reasonable middle ground.

Here are some recommended brand names of flea collars that are deemed safe for use on your pets – particularly cats and dogs:

1. Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar This collar produces Seresto™, a flea and tick collar product line that incorporates active ingredients like imidacloprid and flumethrin in a patented polymer matrix collar for both cats and dogs. It can provide up to eight months of protection against fleas and ticks by releasing the active agents in steady, controlled doses.

2. ecoPure Flea and Tick Collar A natural variant of flea collar produced by EcoPure Naturals. It can work to treat an existing flea and tick problem on both cats and dogs. It is made of safe-grade botanical extracts and contains 9% of active ingredients such as castor oil, thyme oil, and clove oil.

3. Preventic 25" Dog Tick Collar This flea collar functions to repel and kill ticks before they start spreading harmful organisms into your dog’s bloodstream. It will last up to four months before it requires replacement.

If you decide to purchase a collar, you must speak to your vet first. Collars that perform the twin actions of repellent and medication will definitely include a phrase like “kill fleas” on the box.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Remember that the active ingredients which kill ticks and fleas are harmful substances. Collars that contain high concentrations of chemicals such as permethrin can cause irritation and seizures in cats. Breathing difficulties, drooling, paralysis and even cancer are some of the supposed effects caused by flea collar insecticides. Two chemicals called tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) and propoxur in particular have been in the spotlight due to their potentially fatal side effects. Avoid these.

You should also consider that your pet may come into regular contact with other people: when an adult pets an animal wearing a flea collar, he or she could be exposed to seriously toxic chemicals. Propoxur is the second common ingredient in flea collars that is extremely dangerous to humans [2]. A. The figure is even higher in children than adults.

The Verdict

If using a low-strength flea collar as a preventative measure will give you some peace of mind, then there's really no harm in doing so. However, if you're serious about preventing an onslaught of fleas or removing an infestation, you should look at less toxic means such as simple grooming and cleaning, or Spot-Ons.

Sources

[1] https://www.medicanimal.com/Understanding-how-flea-collars-work-for-cats/a/ART111485

[2] http://pets.thenest.com/dog-flea-collars-dangerous-humans-5440.html

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