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Your pet has fleas!

We’ve all dreaded those four little words. At first you may be surprised. Then the reality of that simple statement sets in and you know you’ve got to act, and fast!

But where do you start? What does this pest entail? Are flea treatments effective or even harmful to our pets? Are all flea products the same? What about a flea collar? How do flea collars work?

To help you along the path of pest control, we’ve check with the experts to answer all of the above questions. We’ve even went a step further and listed the pros and cons of flea collars, some important precautions to take when using a flea collar and what could happen if you leave them untreated.

Explore the world of flea collars to stop that itchy pest in its steps. Oh, and if you have dog, we’ve got it covered too!

how do flea collars work

How Do Flea Collars Work? First, Know the Pest You’re Dealing With

The flea is a six-legged parasite that has a flat, brownish-colored body, which is made for jumping. It’s “streamlined” shape allows it to easily move through your pet’s coat.

Fleas thrive in low altitudes where there is warm and humid conditions. The female flea must consume a blood-meal (aka your pet) in order to lay her eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the pepper-like droppings, or flea dirt, you may see on your pet’s skin.

Flea Fact: Did you know a female flea can consume 15 times her own body weight in blood each day?

How Do Flea Collars Work? With These Ingredients.

There are four main insecticides used in flea collars.

Amitraz. Although, scientists are still undecided on how this particular insecticide works, they do agree it can effectively treat external parasites and even mange on pets.

Deltamethrin. This pesticide is a derivative of Pyrethrin which is a naturally occurring extract in the chrysanthemum flower. It is considered one of the safest pesticides on the market today.

Propoxur. Although highly effective in the treatment of fleas (they simply keel over and die) this chemical can be toxic to humans. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the flea collar. Do not allow children to handle collars using Propoxur.

Pyriproxyfen. This insecticide targets the eggs and larvae stage of the flea. The chemical works by not allowing the flea to mature and therefore sterilizing it so it’s unable to reproduce.

Flea Fact: Did you know the most common flea is the Ctenocephalides felis? This critter is actually a cat flea that prefers dogs.

How Do Flea Collars Work? It Depends on the Type

There is more than one type of flea collar to choose from, in fact, there is four. Each one works on a different principle to combat those nasty, biting pests.

1. High Frequency Flea Collars

According to Vetinfo, this flea collar is designed to emit ultrasonic sound waves that is suppose to “scare” the pests away. The collar does not affect the pet or human, as the frequency is above the hearing of both species. However, there is no scientific proof that this flea collar works the way it is being advertised. Additionally, the soundwaves will have no impact on the eggs or larvae stage of the fleas already on the animal.

2. Gas-Based Flea Collars

This type of flea collar produces a gas-based toxin that kills fleas on contact and repels fleas from jumping onto your pet. However, the downside of this flea collar is in order to kill the fleas, they must be around your pet’s face and neck region.

3. Absorption-Based Flea Collars

Rather than just “floating” around your pet, creating a force field-type protection, the insecticides in this flea collar are absorbed into your pet’s skin. When the flea take a blood-meal from your dog or cat, the toxic kills the pest.

4. Natural Flea Collars

There is a natural flea collar that combats the pest problem using rosemary oil. Fleas are naturally repelled by the odour of this herb, which may be safer to use on your pets. Peppermint and citrus will also repel fleas.

Flea Fact: Did you know a flea can live 100 days without a blood-meal?

How Do Flea Collars Work? Know the Pros & Cons

Like any treatment you give your pet, there are both pros and cons which will help you decide if a flea collar is right for you and your fur baby.

Pros of Flea Collars

  • Good at combating fleas around the head and neck region where they mostly congregate.
  • Less expensive than other treatment options
  • Some collars will be effective up to 8 months as opposed to monthly treatments.
  • Small pieces of the flea collar can be placed in your vacuum cleaner to kill those fleas and larvae that are sucked up.

Cons of Flea Collars

  • Don’t necessarily protect the animal’s entire body.
  • Some ingredients are toxic to humans.
  • Pet’s can get tangled up by the collar, (especially outdoor cats) which could pose a choking hazard.
  • Children should not touch the flea collar due to the insecticides.

Note: Avoid flea collars that use the pesticide called, Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP). Although it is an effective way to combat fleas, this insecticide is a neurotoxin that can be dangerous to both pets and people.

How Do Flea Collars Work? What Are the Warnings for Cats?

Before you use a flea collar on your cat, check out these warnings to ensure your feline’s safety.

  • Avoid Permethrin: This is a synthetic material that can be highly toxic to cats. Be sure to read the ingredients on the flea product before you fasten it to your pet.
  • Be Sure It Stretches: Flea product companies do make stretchy and break-away collars specifically for cats. This enables your feline to escape the collar if it gets caught on something while (s)he is exploring.
  • Avoid Dog Flea Products: It is not safe to use flea products made specifically for dogs on cats. This is because the ingredients are much stronger, which could lead to overdosing.
  • Avoid Usage on Kittens: Flea collars contain toxins that are too powerful for a kitten. Putting a flea collar on a kitten could lead to an overdose.

Note: Always check for flea dirt on your cat before using a product to ensure it needs a treatment plan.

How Do Flea Collars Work? What Are the Warnings for Dogs?

As with our feline friends, there are things to be aware of before you use a flea collar on your dog.

  • Avoid Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP): This is a chemical that contains nerve damaging properties that could be dangerous to your pet.
  • Avoid Propoxur: This chemical may cause cancer in your dog.
  • Avoid Usage on Puppies: Like kittens, puppies will also be very susceptible to the pesticides used in fleas collar.

Flea Fact: Did you know one female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her lifetime? And they only live from 2 to 3 months?

How Do Flea Collars Work? What If I Don’t Use One?

Fleas may seem like an everyday, common problem for both cats and dogs, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous. If fleas are left untreated, your pet will become infested with them, as well as your home. And that’s where the real problems begin…

Flea bites can lead to;

  • Flea Bite Dermatitis: Some pets are allergic to the saliva fleas inject into their skin in order to feed. This can cause extreme itching, loss of fur, restlessness, redness and even death under extreme conditions.
  • Anemia: When an animal is infested with fleas, it can lead to anemia (low blood cell count). This in turn can lead to extreme tiredness, lack of appetite, pale gums and eventually death (if left untreated). Kittens and puppies are especially susceptible to anemia.
  • Tapeworms: Some types of tapeworms can be transmitted to your cat by fleas that have fed off of rodents and other wildlife. Once infected with the tapeworm, it will continue to feed and grow inside your pet. It’s host will lose all of its nutrients to this parasite which can lead to anorexia, anemia and even death.

How Do Flea Collars Work? Now You Know

Now that we’ve covered everything about flea collars, you will now know how vitally important it is to eradicate this pest. Whether you choose to use a flea collar or a different method, be sure to read and follow the instructions on the product carefully. If you are still unsure what flea collar or treatment is best for your cat or dog, call your veterinarian.

If you REALLY want to look after your cat’s hygiene take a look at the #1 pick of our best automatic cat litter boxes.