“Flea” is the common name for the order Siphonaptera, which includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that survive as external parasites on mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming the blood of their host. They can grow to be approximately 1/8th of an inch long. And what they may lack in wings, they more than make up for in their jumping skills – fleas can leap a distance almost 50 times their body length.
When fleas bite down, they can be quite irritating for your cat or dog. This will cause your pet to scratch and irritate their skin further. Beyond irritation, when your pet has fleas, it can lead to other complications like tapeworm, anemia, and flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis is the single most common infection in the American dog or cat. Occurring when the dog or cat has an allergic reaction to the flea saliva, flea allergy dermatitis leads to itchiness, irritation, hair loss, scaly skin, and secondary skin infections.
For these reasons, it is vital to protect your pet against fleas and the nasty diseases they cause. In the following article, we will be talking about flea collars and answering the common question, “Do flea collars really work?”
What is a flea collar?
Flea collars are a type of plastic collar that your pet wears around their neck. The collar releases pesticides and chemicals that kill fleas. Older-style collars exist, but these are not as effective. The toxin or gas that they emit only kills the fleas near the collar.
The newer style of collar contains flea and tick repellent chemicals. These chemicals are continuously released from the collar and spread over the dog or cat via the natural oils in the animal’s coat and skin. Newer collars provide continuous protection that the older types cannot. Flea collars are not one-size-fits-all, meaning there are different flea collars for cats and dogs. Make sure to research the best collar for your cat or dog before making a purchase.
Types of flea collars
There are three types of flea collars to choose from when you are thinking about purchasing one for your four-legged friend. Each style comes with its own pros and cons – which you choose will come down to personal preference.
Absorption-based collar: This is the most common type of collar you will find when researching flea collars. Absorption-based collars contain insecticides that, once absorbed by your pet, evenly distribute around their bodies. This will ensure that no fleas or ticks remain.
Positively, this collar kills all fleas while repelling them. This means that there is a lower risk of your pet becoming infected for a second time. Negatively, the insecticides in this collar can be dangerous to your pet. As a result, you will have to keep an eye on your pet and be careful when handling an absorption-based collar. If you like to cuddle your cat or dog, then this style might not be right for you.
High-frequency collars: These collars use high-frequency waves to repel fleas from your pet. The major pro to this style is there are no chemicals in use. So, you will not have to worry about your pet or child becoming poisoned by the collar. If you are concerned about your pet or family’s safety, this is the collar for you.
However, there are some cons to this collar, too. Compared to other styles, high-frequency collars are an expensive option. And, they are 100% effective because high-frequency collars repel fleas but do not kill them. But, if your pet doesn’t already have fleas and you live in a flea or tick prone area, this collar style would be a good option.
Gas-based collars: This collar emits a gas that kills fleas that come in contact with it. This style is frequent in older flea collars. The gas is not absorbed by your pet, an advantage because it is not as toxic as the absorption-based collars. Therefore, this is less dangerous to your pet and family.
The downfall of gas-based collars is that they only kill the fleas if they are close to the collar. This means that this style is also not 100% effective. This collar is a good prevention method if you frequently bring your dog for walks in flea-infested areas and would like stronger protection than a high-frequency collar.
Best flea collars for dogs
When choosing a flea collar for your dog, it can be overwhelming considering the number of options out there. Below are five different flea collars that are the best at helping protect your dog from fleas and ticks.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collars for Dogs: If you are looking for a flea collar for your dog, this collar is the number one pick. Seresto Flea and Tick Collars provide up to eight months of coverage for your dog from fleas and ticks. This collar emits an odorless, non-greasy formula that is excellent protection against these parasites. This collar also works through contact – so the flea or tick doesn’t need to bite your dog for the Seresto collar to kill them.
Adams Plus Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs: This collar is a more affordable option, though it does nearly the same job as Seresto Flea and Tick Collars. Adams Flea Collars kill fleas, flea eggs, larvae, and ticks while preventing new infestations from occurring. This flea and tick collar is suitable for any size dog. All you need to do is place the collar around your dog’s neck, adjust to the size you want (leaving 2 to 3 inches for adjustment), and cut off the excess length. This collar has a fast-acting formula to cover your dog, giving them 24/7 protection for up to seven months. And, this collar works when wet, so you do not need to worry about your dog going for a swim.
Hartz Ultraguard Flea and Tick Collar: This collar is an ideal option if you have a larger dog, as this style fits dogs with neck sizes up to 26 inches. Hartz Ultraguard Flea and Tick Collar is a preventative collar rather than a cure to a flea infestation. So, keep that in mind when you are exploring this option. The downfall with this collar is that it uses a pesticide that some dogs can be sensitive to. If it is your first time using this product, keep an eye on your dog for any sensitivity towards this flea and tick collar. This collar is suitable for puppies from 12 weeks old, is easy to adjust, and protects your pet for up to seven months.
Activyl Protector Band for Dogs: This water-resistant collar offers up to six months of protection. So, with the purchase of only two collars, your dog will get a full year of coverage. It is a one size fits all flea and tick collar that effectively kills ticks, fleas, and even repels mosquitos. This collar is meant for puppies that are 12 weeks or older, and it is suitable for dogs of all sizes – so no need to worry about getting the perfect fit.
Dr. Mercola Herbal Repellent Collar: This collar is a natural tick and flea collar for your dog, perfect if you do not feel comfortable using the standard pesticide collars. This toxin-free flea collar contains essential oils like almond and wintergreen oil. It contains up to four months of coverage for your dog, which is less than the other collars. But of course, there is the benefit of not having any potentially toxic chemicals near your dog. The Dr. Mercola collar is not a collar for use if your dog already has fleas. It is only for preventative measures; you would use this collar to prevent an infestation rather than kill an ongoing one. It is water-resistant, so there is no need to worry if your dog likes to splash around. Keep in mind, it is recommended you use this collar with another form of flea prevention, such as ZoGuard plus.
Best flea collars for cats
Like dog flea collars, there as just as many options to choose from for cats. Not all flea collars work on both cats and dogs. So, here are five flea and tick collars that are effective just for cats.
Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar: Like its dog collar counterpart, this is one of the best cat flea collars on the market. It is odorless, non-greasy, and repels ticks and fleas through contact (no biting required). The active ingredient in this collar releases low doses and covers the entirety of your cat, giving them full protection for eight months. And it kills fleas and ticks within 24 hours of contact. This is vital to preventing the diseases that fleas and ticks carry. Plus, it’s non-toxic, so there is no need to fear that your cat will get ill from wearing it.
Rydor Flea and Tick Collar for Cats: The formula in this option is natural and non-toxic, which gives your pet long-lasting protection from flea eggs, fleas, larvae, and ticks for up to eight months. This collar will not bother your cat in any way, which is why so many cat owners select this option. The collar is also waterproof, so no need to worry about getting it wet.
Totopets Pet Flea and Tick Collar: This collar is great if you need flea protection for your kitten. It can be used from seven weeks onwards and will protect your cat for up to six months. Totopets Pet Flea Collar is a one size fits all collar. All you have to do once the collar is applied is snip off the excess of the length.
Regirock flea and tick collar: This flea collar lasts up to eight months and protects against fleas, larvae, ticks, lice, and mosquitos. It is suitable for kittens from eight weeks old. It contains the active ingredients Flumethrin and Imidacloprid, which the collar releases continuously for eight months. Be sure your cat or kitten does not have sensitivity towards these active ingredients during your use. You might have to keep an eye on your cat if it is your first time using this collar.
Hartz Ultraguard Flea and Tick Collar: This cat flea collar kills fleas and ticks for up to seven months and has the added benefit of a fresh-smelling scent. It is a non-toxic option, so there is no fear that it will hurt or damage your cat. While this collar is water-resistant, if your cat is playing in the water, you should remove it. This flea collar is for kittens as old as 12 weeks.
All five of these flea collars for cats have a breakaway feature included in their design. This means that if the collar gets snagged on a tree or a fence, the collar will come open or undone. Your cat will not become entrapped.
Do flea collars work?
Now we know what types of flea collars there are and which are the best for your cat and dog. It’s time to answer the question – “Do flea collars work?” This is a tough question, as the answer can vary. To put it bluntly: they work, but only to an extent. If you are going to buy a flea collar for your pet, one of the ten mentioned above are your best bet. But, be aware there is a chance that the fleas and ticks have built up a tolerance to the chemicals in the flea collars. While a lot of flea collars boast full coverage, indeed, some fleas might not die the further away from the collar they are.
Many pet owners prefer a flea collar for their dog or cat because this method is not as messy as a topical application, but if you want your pet to be protected fully from fleas and ticks, a spot-on solution like Zoguard plus may be the way to go. Remember, though, to never mix products!
So, while flea collars might work, they are not guaranteed to help your pet rid themselves of fleas or ticks. And, they are more slow-acting when compared to spot-on or oral treatment. So, relying on a flea collar does increase the risk of disease in your pet.