About fleas and flea collars
Why fleas are harmful to your dog?
Obviously, it is common knowledge – to both you and your pet! – that flea is irritating and a source of discomfort, but what you may not have realized is that they can actually also be dangerous. After all, if your dog scratches his bites to excess, this can lead eventually to open sores that leave him susceptible to infection. Or he may be allergic to fleas so that when bitten he has a reaction resulting in red skin, hair loss and even scabies to the affected areas. Excessive biting can also result in anemia from all the blood loss from multiple flea bites. Finally, fleas can be carriers of certain diseases as well as tapeworms. When your dog grooms himself he will consume the tapeworms (as well as fleas), and they will live on in your pet’s intestines and cause various digestive issues. Fleas are a threat that is not to be taken lightly!
How do flea collars work?
Flea collars are very simple. Made up of a (usually) plastic collar laced with some sort of insecticide, you place them around your dog’s neck, and they will either repel the fleas or ‘treat’ (read kill) them outright. Some collars do both, others do one or the other. Repelling collars tend to work by generating a gas which keeps the parasites away. Treating collars, on the other hand, emit their insecticide into the layer of fat in the dog’s skin, thus poisoning fleas who happen to bite the dog; alternatively, the insecticide is emitted onto the topmost layer of skin where it is then spread around the body using the pooch’s own natural oils. In most cases, fleas exposed to the treating insecticide are killed immediately.
Why flea collars?
As you are probably already aware, there are now numerous products out there on the market devoted to defending your pet against fleas and ticks and other parasites. Some of the main ones you may have heard of are shampoos and oil-based treatments that contain insecticides. Though effective, the main problem with most of these treatments is that they are temporary and only provide short-lasting protection. In addition, if your dog frequently gets wet, this greatly reduces the effectiveness of the shampoo or oil treatment. Many of them can be messy as well, causing grease problems and unpleasant odors.
Flea collars, on the other hand, bypass most of these pitfalls. They don’t cause any mess, and they also provide much longer lasting protection – your standard collar delivers about three months’ worth, some of the better ones out there provide up to 6 or even 8 months’ protection against parasites. Perhaps the best part is that the dog owner can simply put the collar on and then forget about it, there is no need to worry about whether or not you’ve remembered to apply that months’ treatment. Some shampoos and treatments are also known to be very toxic to your pet – flea collars (though they still contain some toxins) tend to avoid this problem.
What do flea collars protect your dog against?
A good flea collar should protect your pet against both fleas and ticks. Although they don’t have as high a profile as fleas, ticks also feed on your pet’s blood and cause irritation and discomfort to his skin, ticks are also more likely than fleas to carry dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease or spotted fever.
Most modern flea collars will defend your dog against both fleas and ticks, though some will provide protection against mosquitoes and other pests and parasites as well.
Factors you need to consider when you buy a flea collar?
The ideal collar is one that will stay in place around the dog’s neck at all times whilst still allowing some breathing room underneath (a good rule of thumb is that the collar should be loose enough that you can fit one or two fingers underneath).
If you want the best results and also wish to save money, then purchase a durable collar which will last a very long time. Flea collars are not so cheap, so you will want to get one that provides that maximum duration of protection to your dog. Most modern collars out there on the market have a lifespan of around 3 months before they need to be replaced – some of the better ones last you 6 or even 8 months. Again, having a long-lasting collar is very convenient, as you can simply put it on and forget about – unlike shampoos and other treatments, there is no need to worry about whether or not your dog is protected for that month.
Finally, pay attention to what pests and parasites your collar are equipped to deal with. At the very least you want one that provides protection against fleas as well as ticks – these are the main threats to your pooch. Some also protect against mosquitoes, lice, and other pests – if those are known to be a problem in your area, or your dog is known to be susceptible to them, then you may want to get a collar that has such properties. It goes without saying that is far better to have a collar that provides all in one protection than have to go out and buy a separate product for each problem or threat.
How to properly use a flea collar on your dog
Fitting a flea collar on your dog is easily done and can be an effective way of repelling fleas. To safely and properly use a flea collar on your dog, take the following steps:
- First, read the product label. It is very important to carefully read through the label of any new product you use on your pooch, to make absolutely sure it is suitable for your pet.
- Remove the collar from its packaging.
- Fit the collar around your dog’s neck. Check the fit of the collar before fastening it. It should be loose enough that you can slip two fingers underneath, but not so loose that they can wriggle out of it or get it caught on the furniture.
- Trim away any excess length. If there is extra length left over after you’ve fitted the flea collar on your dog, you can cut this part away. Make sure to leave around an inch between the end of the collar and the notch you plan to use to fasten the collar.
When to use a flea collar on your dog
Flea collars are generally used in two different ways, depending on your situation. They can be worn part-time and used only when your dog is going outdoors or into flea-infested areas to repel the insects, then removed when they come inside. Alternatively, they can be worn round the clock if you have a problem with fleas inside your home, as part of an integrated pest management plan.
Safety tips for using a flea collar on your dog
Generally, flea collars are a very safe method of repelling and treating fleas. However, there are risks involved with any flea treatment, and collars are no exception! To protect your pooch from accidental injury or illness, it is important to take the following precautions:
Make sure the fit of the collar is secure and comfortable. Make sure you can slide two fingers under the flea collar before you fasten it. If the collar is too tight, it may restrict the breathing of your pet. If it is too loose, it may become caught on furniture or fences, which can lead to choking and/or injury.
Check the fit of the collar regularly. This is especially important if your dog is young and still growing.
Avoid organophosphates. Many older models of lea collars use organophosphates as their active ingredient. While these insecticides are known to repel fleas, they can also be highly toxic to dogs causing vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, anorexia, drooling and lack of coordination, among other problems.
When is a dog flea collar NOT a good idea?
- If you have a dog that is pregnant – puppies should not be exposed to insecticide at such a young age – and the same may be true where you have young children of your own hanging around the house.
- If there are multiple dogs in the house and they tend to fight (playfully, of course), having one or both of them wearing a collar might not be a wise choice – if one dog bites the collar of the other, they could be exposed to harmful toxins.
- Some varieties of a dog simply will not tolerate wearing a collar and will scratch and bite at it until it is removed.
- If your dog enjoys being in the water a lot, then a collar will not work very effectively either – consider some other treatment in the case, or simply take it off on those occasions to avoid reducing its longevity.
Before using a flea collar on your dog, it is important to make sure you have selected a product that’ suitable for them. Always read the product label carefully, as some flea collars contain ingredients that can’t be used on puppies, old dogs, pregnant dogs or nursing dogs. It is also important to consider any other medication (for fleas or otherwise) that your dog may be taking, so you can check that they are compatible with the flea collar.