The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out on Flea Collars for Dogs

Petplace recently contacted me and asked me to write an article about this topic – Do Flea Collars Really Work?

First, let me introduce myself for those of you that don’t know me. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian. I speak my mind and give you my honest opinion. I won’t sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some might say that I’m truthful to a fault. Some of the pet owners and breeders who read my columns get really angry. It is hard hearing the truth.

So, do flea collars really work? This is an excellent question. I can’t speak for every veterinarian but I can speak for the majority. In fact, in preparation for this article I contacted 10 vets and asked for their opinions on this subject just to confirm my feelings on this subject. As it was – I was spot on in my thoughts.

This article refers to the generic flea collar you buy at the pet store. These comments do not refer to prescription flea collars you get from your veterinarian.

How Do Flea Collars Work?

There are many different brands of flea collars. Generally, flea collars work by either emitting a toxic gas to the local area (head/neck of the pet) or by exuding chemicals that are absorbed into the animal’s skin. Some flea collars have an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), to prevent development of flea eggs and larvae.

Do Flea Collars Work?

For the basic flea collar, he answer is NO! Many flea collars are most effective in the local area (head and neck), which is little help since most fleas prefer the bottom or back end of the pet. Also, most flea collars aren’t strong enough to actually kill adult fleas.

One exception to this may be a flea collar produced by Bayer called Seresto. Bayer claims that “97% of veterinarians were stateside or very satisfied with Seresto for dogs or cats after 8 months.” None of the vets I interviewed for this article had personal experience with Seresto. If you are interested in this particular collar – please discuss with your veterinarian.

Can Flea Collars Cause Harm?

Yes, flea collars can be harmful. Ingestion of collars can be toxic. The chemicals that are meant to be on the skin are absorbed into the body when ingested.

Dogs can be particularly sensitive to some chemicals. NEVER use any flea product on your dog without the consent of your veterinarian.

Some flea collars can cause local irritation around the neck of the pet. This chemical irritation can be worse than the fleabites themselves.

How Do I Recommend Using Flea Collars on Dogs?

Flea collars can be effective when used inside a vacuum canister. When fleas are vacuumed in, they are killed. They cannot escape from the vacuum and go back into your home. Cut a flea collar into pieces and place the pieces in the vacuum bag.

My Final Thoughts on Flea Collars

The most effective treatments are prescription medications from your veterinarian. They really work. I’m not getting one dime for giving you my honest opinion here, so if you could buy anything over the counter that worked as well I’d tell you.

Dog flea collars do little to kill fleas and some of the ingredients can be VERY toxic to some dogs. To ready more about this awful toxicity, go to: Carbamate and Organophosphate Toxicity in Dogs

There are safer and more effective alternatives to flea collars available on the market.

And because there are so many safe and effective products on the market, I don’t think it is worth using something that can be expensive and doesn’t work.

For more information on treating fleas effectively, go to: Dog and Cat Fleas: Pour-on Products to Kill Fleas