A dog is man's best friend, so it is important that we look after the health of our four-legged friends. Fleas are one of the most common pest issues that dog owners face. Drawn to the warm furry coat your pet provides, these blood-sucking vampires can prove challenging to get rid of. But before you even notice those first signs of scratching and get into a flea frenzy, make sure that you are one step ahead by investing in a preventative solution such as a dog flea collar.
The benefits of using flea collars for dogs
I would always advise that you take precautions in the form of a flea collar to prevent your dog from receiving unwanted visitors. Although the safety of flea collars continues to be a hotly debated topic, there is no denying, that when used correctly and handled with care, they offer one of the easiest solutions for repelling, and in some cases eliminating, fleas.
There are so many different brands of dog flea collars readily available on the market that understanding which one is right for you and your pet can often seem overwhelming. As someone who has regularly used flea collars on both my own and client pets, I have listed below my top reviews and recommendations.
I would, however, always advise that you consult with your own family vet regarding which one to purchase and use as part of an overall flea prevention treatment plan, rather than to tackle an existing infestation.
What is the best flea and tick collar for dogs?
I would always recommend that you use a combination of flea control solutions, as some are better for preventing fleas rather than tackling a current infestation. The best flea and tick dog collar of choice is the Bayer Seresto. Although it is a pricier product, its reputation proceeds it in terms of results.
If you don't mind spending the money and are looking for a chemical-free alternative, then why not try an ultrasonic collar like the Sonic Guard, but be aware that these have yet to be backed by any conclusive research.
Things to consider when buying a dog flea collar
Not all dogs will be suitable for wearing a flea collar. For example, if your dog is elderly, pregnant or nursing puppies then you would need to use alternative methods. If you have a puppy it is not recommended that they wear a flea collar until they are over the age of 6 months. If you have children in the house or are pregnant yourself, then again, I would advise against using flea collars altogether as a form of treatment, or at the very least only purchase a natural flea collar made without using chemical pesticides.
Other things to consider before purchasing a flea collar:
- Ingredients. As stated above, not all dog flea collars are infused with chemical pesticides, with many now offering a natural alternative in the form of essential or plant-based oils and ultrasonic sound waves. I talk more about this below (add in link).
- Water-resistance. Most dogs enjoy running in and out of muddy puddles, lakes, and ponds, and are therefore unlikely to remain dry, all of the time. If your dog is a water baby or regularly needs bathing, I would suggest purchasing a water-resistant collar to increase its longevity.
- Size and adjustability. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and so it is important that you choose a flea collar to suit your breed. Often dog flea collars come in a variety of small, medium, and large but if you are in any doubt, you should measure the circumference of your dog's neck with a measuring tape. If you have a particularly large dog, then I would recommend using a drop-on treatment or a flea shampoo instead of a collar, as trying to maintain fleas across a large body area is often not possible just by using a flea collar alone.
- Adjustable collar and buckle: Most flea collars come provided with an adjustable collar and buckle, whilst others may require you to cut and fit it to suit. Some are not adjustable at all, so make sure you read the instructions before purchasing.
- Length of Protection. It should state on the packaging how long your chosen flea collar will protect your pooch, but on average it tends to vary between three and eight months. I would advise that you keep a note of when a new collar is required so that you can ensure your pet is kept flea-free.
Pesticide v natural flea collars
There are two main types of dog flea collars on the market.
- Chemical infused dog flea collars – the effectiveness of these collars vary depending on the insecticides used but are designed to manage and maintain fleas in all stages of their life cycle including larvae and eggs. Worn around the dog's neck the pesticides get released slowly into the dog's hair and skin, killing fleas as they encounter it.
- Natural dog flea collars – these collars are made up of organic ingredients and essential oils such as lavender, cinnamon, and eucalyptus which are thought to ward off fleas.
Top 7 Best Flea Collars – Reviews and Pros/Cons
Can I use a dog collar on my cat?
One of the most popular questions that I get asked on a regular basis is, can a dog flea collar be used on a cat? The answer to this is most definitely not. These two types of collars are not interchangeable and although the cynic in me may once have questioned whether cat and dog collars are produced separately purely for marketing purposes, research and knowledge have shown that they are manufactured based on absorbability.
The amount of toxins that a dog can absorb is far greater than that of a cat. This is because cats are, in the main, much smaller animals and therefore their bodies are not as efficient at breaking down chemicals at the rate at which a dog can. Therefore, if you were to use a dog collar on a cat it could cause them serious harm.
7 Alternatives to using a Flea Collar
Whilst I am an advocate for dogs wearing flea collars, it is important that you are aware of all the options should a flea collar not be a viable preventative method for your pet. Below I have listed the most popular do-it-yourself flea remedies available today.
- Drop On Medications: Also known as spot-on, this form of medicine works just as its name suggests. Applied between the shoulder blades of the dog, small drops of medicine penetrate deep into your pet's skin and disperses throughout the body via the sweat glands. Containing ingredients like those found in a flea collar, drop on's work by repelling and killing fleas once they encounter it.
- Oral Medication: Oral medication offers the same protection against fleas as a collar would, but often come with fewer reported side effects. Although pills can be bought online, it is always best to check with your vet before purchasing as they can offer advice on the best type of oral medication for your dog.
- Sprays and powders: Flea sprays and flea powders offer a cheap alternative to other dog flea treatments and can last for several months providing your dog remains dry. Failure to do so will result in the spray washing off and the fleas invading once more.
- Shampoos: If your dog will tolerate a thorough clean, then bathing with flea shampoo is a good option. These shampoos contain pesticides that can tackle both the fleas themselves and any eggs and larvae and offers protection for up to 28 days.
- Holistic flea killer treatments: Aside from the pesticide-free and ultrasonic collars, there are many myths surrounding dog fleas and the best way to tackle them without using harmful ingredients. I personally believe that these old wives' tales will be unable to tackle an infestation on their own, however, when combined with other methods may offer additional benefits. Many of these solutions are cheap and simple to set up. For example, why not try bathing your dog in lemon juice, which is a key ingredient often found in pesticide-free collars. Thought to dry out and dehydrate fleas, even if it doesn't work at least you'll be left with a fresh smelling doggy.
- Vacuuming: Another thing to try is to vacuum the fleas up. Just like bed bugs, fleas hate extreme heat and therefore a regular deep clean of all your carpets and soft furnishings with a specially designed vacuum or steamer could see your dog flea-free over time. Finally, why not invest in some pungent pot plants? Many dog shampoos, powders, and collars use essential oils with plant-based ingredients, so adding chrysanthemums, lavender, and eucalyptus around the home will not only create a sweet-smelling environment but could even start to repel fleas.
- Check your dog's diet: Finally, why not take a look at what your dog eats and look to include a small amount of garlic. If it keeps vampires away, who's to say it won't have the same desired effect on these blood-sucking pests? This is not recommended for cats, but a small amount, concealed within your dog's normal feed is perfectly safe.
Are flea and tick collars safe for dogs?
Whilst flea collars are safe for the majority of dogs to wear, you should take necessary precautions if using a flea and tick collar that contains chemicals. Once affixed around your dog's neck, you should check it regularly to make sure they are not suffering from an allergic reaction.
And remember, not all dogs will be suitable for wearing a flea collar. If your dog is elderly, pregnant, under 6 months of age, or nursing puppies then you would need to protect them from fleas and ticks using alternative methods.
Likewise, if you have children, other pets in the house, or are pregnant yourself, then again, I would advise against using flea collars altogether as a form of treatment, or at the very least only purchase a natural flea collar made without using chemical pesticides.
How effective are tick collars for dogs?
Most flea and tick collars are effective for preventing dogs and cats from suffering from an infestation of pests, although they do not usually kill or cure them. As ticks generally attach themselves around a dog's face and ears, these collars are more effective at combating ticks than fleas.
Are flea collars or drops better for dogs?
There isn't a great deal of difference between the two as flea collars and drops contain the same ingredients but drops need to be applied more regularly (usually once a month!) whereas a collar can last for up to 12 months.
So to round up, here are my thoughts and opinions on dog flea collars. When used safely I believe that pesticide collars are the most effective solution for combating fleas despite recent press reports. However, you should always consult with your own vet beforehand, follow the instructions given on the product packaging and check your pet regularly for any signs of known side effects.
I would always recommend that you use a combination of flea control solutions, as some are better for preventing fleas rather than tackling a current infestation.
Although my stand-out collar of choice is the Bayer Seresto (see on Amazon) its reputation proceeds it in terms of results. If you don't mind spending the money and are looking for a chemical-free alternative, then why not try an ultrasonic collar, but be aware that these have yet to be backed by any conclusive research.
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