Fact checked

How Do I Choose the Best Dog Flea Collar?

Dog Care
7 minutes read
Is your dog showing intense scratching? It could be due to fleas. The best way to prevent them is by investing in a flea collar.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

If your dog shows intense scratching or itching, it could be due to pesky, tiny black insects called fleas. Fleas are the most common mites household pets get, and just one flea can quickly lead to an infestation. The best way to prevent fleas is by either treating your dog each month with flea medication or by having them wear a flea collar.

To decide which flea collar is the best for your situation, you must consider the product's effectiveness, longevity, and safety. Dog flea collars in 2011 effectively killed adult fleas and ticks for up to six months. As for safety, different manufacturers use different chemicals, most of which are not found in cat flea collars because of sensitivity differences between the two species. There also are natural alternatives available.

Just about every dog flea collar on the market in 2011 claims it can kill adult fleas and ticks. The best flea collar can kill adult fleas, ticks, flea eggs, and larvae. The majority of flea collars also are water resistant, meaning they can get wet temporarily but should be removed during bathing and swimming.

A flea collar's most common active ingredients are deltamethrin, amitraz, or a combination of amitraz and pyriproxyfen. The presence of pyriproxyfen indicates an additional component that kills flea eggs and larvae. If a flea collar product claims to kill fleas, it can also control or kill ticks.

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How Do Flea Collars Work?

Older flea collars worked by releasing toxins as a gas. As a result, they only killed fleas near the collar. These collars also contained organophosphates, which could cause toxic reactions in dogs and humans with prolonged exposure.

Newer collars feature flea repellents that continuously release chemicals from the collar and spread throughout the dog's skin via natural oils. These compounds stick to the skin and give long-term protection against flea infestation. Flea collars come in various types, with manufacturers focusing on effectiveness and safety.

There are two main types of collars that serve two primary purposes:

  • Repelling collars – This type of collar emits a gas that repels pests, discouraging biting and infestation. 
  • Treating collars – They emit active ingredients which kill pests on contact.

Some collars provide a single function, while others serve both. Depending on the severity of your flea infestation, either option may suffice, although treatment collars offer superior protection. Flea collars are versatile, and their use can be adjusted to respond to various pest concerns.

An ESA letter allows you to visit different regions even where pests are a significant concern. A flea collar can provide appropriate protection in high-infestation areas, allowing your dog to remain pest-free wherever you go.

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Why Does Your Dog Need A Flea Collar?

Dogs love the outdoors, and if you have an ESA dog, you may spend a lot of time on walks and hikes. A flea collar effectively protects your dog from fleas and other parasites that may get on its fur. Plus, flea collars are usually effective for months, offering long-lasting protection to your dog. 

Some benefits of flea collars include the following: 

  • Cost-effective – A purchase lasts for a couple of months, and most collars are relatively affordable.
  • Automatic protection – You don't have to schedule routine flea protection. Flea collars keep your emotional support animal healthy no matter where you go.
  • Easy to use – Unlike topical applications that often require some level of skill, putting on a flea collar is very straightforward.
  • Repels other insects – Flea collars also repel insects such as mites and mosquitoes.
  • Water resistance – Some flea collars are water resistant, so your dog can continue enjoying swimming and other water activities.

Which Ingredients Are Used In Flea Collars?

  • Deltamethrin - A synthetic derivative of Pyrethrin, one of the insecticides' most widely used ingredients.
  • Amitraz – An active ingredient with anti-parasitic properties.
  • Pyriproxifen – Kills flea eggs and sterilizes male insects preventing them from reproducing.

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Nature's Best

Regarding safety, natural, chemical-free dog flea collars are considered the best. Rather than releasing a toxin to solve a flea problem, an alternative flea collar replaces these chemicals with a combination of herbs and oils. 

Another option uses a concentrated thyme and castor oil solution that is absorbed when a few drops are placed on a cotton collar. Natural flea remedies like these may be best for families with children or multiple dogs.

Full Flea Control

Using a flea collar alone is not always enough to eliminate fleas. Most experts recommend using a flea collar in conjunction with other flea treatments, such as shampoos. The flea-killing toxin released by a flea collar is concentrated primarily around the head and neck — the area immediately surrounding the flea collar. Flea collars are suitable for dogs that spend a lot of time outside.

Purchasing the best dog flea collar does not require a trip to the veterinarian's office, though a veterinarian can advise you about whether a flea collar is safe for your pet. They should not be used on pregnant or nursing dogs, debilitated or aged dogs, or puppies under the age of three months. If your dog is on any medication, check with your veterinarian before beginning a flea treatment. If a dog flea collar is not an option, you may consider an alternative method, such as a topical treatment or oral tablet.

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Can All Dogs Wear a Flea Collar?

While most dogs can wear flea collars, there are a few exceptions that dog owners should note. The chemicals released by the collar can affect older dogs and pregnant or convalescent dogs. In such cases, alternative flea control methods, such as medicated baths, can be used. 

Animal health experts recommend visiting the vet before any treatment to identify the best treatment options. It is also advisable to read the instructions in the flea collar kit to check for compatibility before use.

How Should the Flea Collar Be Worn?

The manufacturer's instructions will typically include instructions for fitting and using the collar. The collar should make skin contact snugly around the dog's neck to ensure it stays in place throughout the day.

Most manufacturers advise that you should be able to fit two fingers under the collar for a good fit. Any extra length should be cut off and disposed of correctly, as stray pieces can be ingested by the dog or young children, posing a toxic hazard. Check the collar's fit regularly, especially for growing puppies, to ensure it doesn't get too tight. 

Most collars are designed to last several months, but their effectiveness decreases with water exposure and other factors. Replace the collar as guided by the manufacturer for continuous protection. Observe any skin irritation around the neck and replace the collar if necessary.

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Is My Dog's Flea Collar Dangerous For My Family?

The chemical in the flea collar can rub off on surfaces that the dog comes into contact with. This includes household items, children, and other animals. Therefore, washing your hands with soap after contacting the dog, especially before meals, is essential.

Pay extra attention to kids to ensure they wash their hands before eating after playing with the dog. You can opt for alternative flea treatments if you have an ESA certification and are always in contact with your dog. 

Is A Flea Collar Enough To Protect My Dog?

A flea collar can be an effective preventive tool against fleas and other dog parasites. However, they may not be the best fit for every dog and should be treated as one method of flea control. 

Flea collars can be appropriate for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors. They provide continuous protection but are more effective when used alongside other flea control products. This is especially beneficial in a high parasite area where collars may not offer complete protection. 

Are Flea Collars Safe?

Flea collars emit chemicals onto the dog's skin, repelling or killing fleas and other pests. Dog owners can choose collars that produce gases, herbs, or ultrasonic waves, which are harmless. However, your dog might experience some side effects first, such as itching and neck redness.

Ensure the collar fits comfortably and check if the reaction goes away after several wears. If the symptoms persist, you may consider replacing the collar or switching to other preventive methods.

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A Healthy Dog is A Happy Dog

Keeping your dog free from fleas ensures that it stays healthy and promotes longer, happier life. Flea collars are a simple yet effective solution to repel fleas and keep other pests at bay.

Visit Pettable's blog for helpful pet care information and other helpful resources.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.