Ever do a double-take when your dog scratches? Is it just a regular itch or could it be…something else? Fleas can wreak havoc on your dog’s health and well-being. Plus, if the condition goes untreated for too long, you could wind up having fleas all over your furniture, carpeting, rugs, bedding, pillows—and even your own body. Stay ahead of this itchy situation before it turns into a full-blown infestation. Something as simple as a flea collar goes a long way in helping your fur baby stay safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you add flea collars to your shopping cart.

How Flea Collars Work

As you browse through all the different types of flea collars, you might start to feel overwhelmed by all the different options. Collars work by using chemicals to repel or kill adult fleas, and sometimes eggs and larvae too. All these chemicals can sound confusing and scary. Here’s a breakdown of how they work and what to look for before you buy:

  • Imidacloprid/flumethrin is a chemical that is slowly released from the collar to disorient insects enough so that they stop feeding. It’s considered low toxicity for humans (unless it’s ingested). Imidacloprid/flumethrin can reduce flea count by 95%.
  • Deltamethrin is made from chrysanthemum flowers, which are commonly planted in golf courses and ornamental gardens. It’s safe for humans, but highly toxic to fish. Deltamethrin’s effectiveness is about 89% in reducing fleas over a period of eight months.
  • Propoxur is used to fight agricultural, forestry, and household pests, including fleas, moths, and mosquitoes. Propoxur is highly toxic to humans. Propoxur is the least effective—it only reduces flea count by roughly 85%.

Though some of these chemicals are toxic, most are safe for use around dogs and humans if you carefully follow the directions listed on the packaging. Following the directions means making sure that your dog doesn’t chew on or ingest its collar, being careful not to ingest the chemicals yourself (wash your hands after applying or adjusting the collar), and being mindful of small children who might play with the collar and even put it in their mouths.

Benefits of Flea Collars

Flea collars can be a quick and easy way to get rid of pests. Thankfully, most of them start working in one or two days. Below are some of the benefits that they offer.

Flea collars:

  1. Are readily available over the counter (or online) — No medical bills and no prescription needed.
  2. Promote long-term health — Excessive scratching can damage your dog’s skin and could even lead to infections and hair loss and anemia from blood loss.
  3. Can save your home and your yard — Cleanups after an infestation can be timely and expensive. Flea eggs can easily roll off your dog’s body and into your carpet, couch, and even your yard, then hatch and develop for up to 90 days.

Best Ways to Use Flea Collars 

The first step in using a flea collar correctly is picking the right type of collar that best suits your dog and your lifestyle. Now that you understand how flea collars work, here are a few things to consider as you make your decision:

  • Active ingredient — Some ingredients that are safe for dogs are not safe for cats. If you have a mixed-pet household, make sure the ingredients are safe for everyone.
  • Lifestyle — Does your dog like to play rough? Do they like to swim or go for walks in the rain? Your collar will need to accommodate your pet’s play style and you might consider getting a waterproof one. Collar efficacy can decrease if it gets wet while bathing, being outside, or even being licked by your other pets. If you know that your dog’s collar has gotten wet, consider buying a new one.
  • Fit — Your dog’s collar should fit snugly around their neck so it can make contact with their skin. You should be able to place two fingers under the collar and any extra length should be cut off and thrown away. Occasionally re-check the fit, especially in growing puppies. The collar will be completely ineffective if it gets too loose or falls off.
  • Special features — Do you need a collar with all the bells and whistles? Some collars only kill fleas, but not ticks, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also, collars may or may not be able to kill eggs and larvae—read carefully.

No matter which collar you end up getting, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

It’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s symptoms during a flea or tick outbreak. If the collar doesn’t seem to be working, keep in mind that it is possible for fleas to build up an immunity to the toxins in flea collars. Have questions? Airvet is here to help. Connect with a licensed veterinarian any time, day or night.

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