Is your dog scratching and biting at their skin or hair a little bit more than normal? They may not have just a simple itch. It could be fleas.
And if your dog has fleas, if you let it go for too long, you could end up looking at a full-blown flea infestation. Fleas can quickly move from your dog’s furry hide to your furniture, rugs, carpeting, bedspreads, pillows — and then eventually over to you.
Don’t let a bad situation turn into a worst-case scenario. Take care of fleas and ticks before they even arrive in the first place, with one of the below six best flea collars for your dog.
How Do Flea Collars Work?
When looking at flea collars, you’ll notice that they all promise different things and use different active ingredients to fight off fleas.
Some of the most popular chemicals flea collars use to scare away fleas and prevent flea infestations are imidacloprid/flumethrin, deltamethrin and propoxur.
Imidacloprid/flumethrin is a popular, slow-release chemical that, while typically very safe for dogs and cats and low in toxicity for humans (unless ingested), disorients insects to the point that they stop foraging for food.
Deltamethrin is an insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers that can be found in an array of settings, from golf courses to ornamental gardens to, yes, flea collars. Considered safe around humans, it can be extremely toxic to fish and, of course, fleas and other insects.
Propoxur is very toxic to humans but has been used in place of DDT in some settings. It’s used to fight agricultural, forestry and household pests, including fleas, mosquitoes and moths.
Each of these ingredients differs when it comes to effectiveness.
Flea collars that use imidacloprid/flumethrin are proven to reduce flea count by 95% over the course of eight months, while also reducing tick count by 90% over the same time span. Dog flea collars using deltamethrin are similar, with an effectiveness of around 89% in reducing fleas over that same time. Propoxur shows the least effectiveness overall, reducing flea count by around 85%.
Keep in mind, all of these chemicals are technically toxic (they do kill ticks, after all), but they shouldn’t harm your dog if you follow all the packaging directions correctly. The only typical side effect that most pet owners report is a change in their dog’s hair texture, with added greasiness coming from the chemicals.
Beyond flea collar active ingredients, other factors impact collar effectiveness, such as when you begin using a flea collar (as a preventative measure before any fleas are spotted versus after the fact when your dog is already infested) and where you live. Some states have larger and more aggressive flea and tick populations. Additionally, your dog’s individual lifestyle comes into play, including how much time they spend outside and what kind of environment they live in, you made opt for a stronger flea repellent.
Almost all flea collars begin working in the span of one to two days.
Picking the Right Flea Collar for Your Dog
When shopping for your dog’s flea collar, you’ll want to look at a few things that will overall impact your experience and whether or not you successfully nip your flea problem in the bud.
- Active ingredients
- Special features to fit your dog’s lifestyle
- Size suitable for your dog’s breed and age
- Special features for ticks, flea eggs, etc.
Firstly, do you have a preferred active ingredient? Do you want one of the specific chemicals mentioned above? Or would you rather try an all-natural flea collar (which is an option, though they’re not generally considered as effective)?
Secondly, which flea collar will fit your dog’s lifestyle? Will they need a flea collar that can withstand months of rough play? Do they need a waterproof flea collar? The last thing you want is to purchase a flea collar and then realize that it stops working two weeks in due to your dog’s frequent swims and rainy walks.
Third, be sure to purchase the right size flea collar for your dog’s breed and age. Some flea collars are safe for puppies, while others aren’t.
Lastly, look at the effectiveness and special features a flea collar touts, such as the ability to kill not only fleas but also ticks, as well as the ability to kill flea eggs and not just adult fleas.
Related: 10 of the Top Life Jackets For Dogs
Who Should Not Use a Flea Collar?
While, generally, all dogs need a flea collar, you won’t want to use one in special cases.
This includes puppies that are fewer than two months old, senior dogs with serious health problems that affect the liver and kidneys and pregnant or nursing dogs.
The Best Flea Collar Overall: Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
The best flea collar overall is hands down the Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar, brought to you by the same brand that makes a lot of medications you likely already have in your medicine cabinet.
This collar is available for dogs in every stage of life and in every size and is highly effective for eight months against not only fleas but also ticks, flea larvae, mange and lice. In addition to killing all of the above, the flea and tick collar for dogs also actively repels these critters, so they never even consider your pup for a tasty snack.
The downsides? The collar can be difficult to size, as there aren’t too many sizes to choose from, but you are able to trim the collar once it’s on your dog. When shopping, then, err on the side of a too-large collar. You can always trim it down, but you’re out of luck if you buy a collar that’s too small.
One other downside is this collar’s price. At nearly $50, it can seem expensive to some, but keep in mind that it’ll protect your dog for the majority of a year.
This flea collar has no scent, is waterproof and uses imidacloprid/flumethrin as the active ingredient.
Best All-Natural Flea Collar: Arava Flea & Tick Prevention Collar
If you are absolutely, 100% sure that you want an all-natural flea collar, then you’ll want to consider the Arava Flea & Tick Prevention Collar from Amazon.
This one size fits all flea collar is great for all ages and breeds and can be trimmed down to fit your dog’s neck. The collar uses herbs and essential oils to fight off fleas and ticks and is one of the more effective all-natural flea collars on the market.
This natural ingredient flea collar for dogs is waterproof and is also safe around children.
Best Budget Flea Collar: Hartz Ultraguard Flea & Tick Collar
At less than $10, the Hartz Ultraguard Flea & Tick Collar is much more budget-friendly than the Seresto option above. It kills and repels fleas, flea eggs, ticks and flea larvae only, though, so it’s not as thorough as the Seresto collar.
The collar works for up to seven months and is good for dogs with necks up to 22 inches. It comes in one size, so you can just trim down any excess collar for a smaller dog. It is scented, but not unpleasantly, and it’s water-resistant, rather than being completely waterproof.
Most Unique Flea Collar: Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Flea, Tick & Mosquito Collar Tag
The Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Flea, Tick & Mosquito Collar Tag attaches to your dog’s normal collar, rather than acting as a stand-alone flea collar. However, its small size hardly detracts from its effectiveness.
The tag kills, detaches and repels ticks, fleas and mosquitos using silicon dioxide encoded with frequencies that these pests detest. In other words, it’s a unique, completely chemical-free flea and tick solution.
The tag lasts for an entire year, which is extremely handy, but it is the priciest option on this list, at more than $60. However, the cost is well worth it for some pet owners.
Most Comprehensive Flea Collar: Rolf Club 3D Flea & Worm Collar for Dogs
If you want a flea collar that can protect your pup from just about anything they come up against, then you’ll want to check out the Rolf Club 3D Flea & Worm Collar for Dogs. It uses fipronil, pyriproxyfen and ivermectin to ward off not only fleas and ticks, but also parasitic worms. It fights off 14 different parasite species, in fact, including heartworms, ear mites, roundworms and hookworms.
The collar is odorless and waterproof, and works for two months for worms, three months for ticks and four months for fleas.
Best Reflective Flea Collar: Hartz UltraGuard Pro Flea & Tick Collar with Reflect-X Shield
The affordable Hartz UltraGuard Pro Flea & Tick Collar with Reflect-X Shield gives pets an added source of protection, with reflective strips on the collar that reflect light for up to 450 feet, a handy feature for nighttime walks and outdoor play. Of course, the collar still does its primary job, killing fleas, ticks, flea eggs and flea larvae for seven months, as well as preventing flea eggs from hatching for the same time period.
The collar is safe to use on dogs more than three months old, and it’s water-resistant, though not waterproof.
Flea Collar Alternatives
If you eventually decide a flea collar isn’t a good choice for your pup, you might want to try a popular flea collar alternative.
Dog flea pills are popular for those pet owners who simply want to give their pup a medication every so often and then forget about it.
Topical treatments are a popular option as well, and effective, though some dog owners don’t like the smell or mess that comes from squirting the medication all along their dog’s back and fur.
If you suspect your dog already has a few fleas, and you’re worried you might not catch them all with a flea collar, you may choose to use a flea shampoo as an additional treatment rather than an alternative to flea control.
Other pet owners swear by DIY flea and tick solutions that are all-natural, such as citronella oil or cloves.
Some pet owners assume they can use a cat flea collar as an alternative to a dog flea collar, but avoid making this mistake. The two different types of collars use different active ingredients, in different doses, rendering a cat flea collar ineffective or even dangerous for a dog.
What if My Pup Already Has Fleas?
If your dog already has fleas, you can still use a flea collar, but keep in mind that getting rid of the current fleas on your dog’s body ASAP is priority. A flea shampoo can help with this.
Even if you don’t suspect the fleas have spread to your home, you’ll want to do a thorough check and possibly invest in some household flea sprays that are safe for use around humans.
It is possible, in some cases, for your house or yard to have actually given your dog fleas, rather than the other way around. There are a few precautions you can take to keep your house free of fleas, including keeping your grass mown, deterring stray animals and rodents from your property, disposing of all garbage appropriately, keeping your carpet and all other heavy fabrics in your house regularly cleaned and using an insecticide in your yard and around your home.
Are Fleas Really All That Dangerous to My Dog?
Yes! You may think fleas are just making your dog itchy, but they cause so many other problems beyond skin irritation.
The excessive scratching can damage your dog’s skin, leading to infections and hair loss. This is especially the case if your dog is an outdoor dog or if they have long untrimmed and dirty nails. Allergic reactions to flea bites are also possible, as are later parasitic tapeworm infections, as fleas carry tapeworms.
Don’t wait until you notice your dog itching and scratching to invest in their health.
Every dog needs a flea collar or alternative flea treatment to keep them healthy and happy for the months and years to come. The nice thing about flea collars for dogs is these specific collars don't interfere with their regular dog collar, so your furry friend probably won't even notice they have it on!
You might also be interested in: 6 Home Remedies For Dog Ear Infections And How To Prevent Them
The 6 Best Flea Collars for Dogs:
- The Best Flea Collar Overall: Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
- Best All-Natural Flea Collar: Arava Flea & Tick Prevention Collar
- Best Budget Flea Collar: Hartz Ultraguard Flea & Tick Collar
- Most Unique Flea Collar: Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Flea, Tick & Mosquito Collar Tag
- Most Comprehensive Flea Collar: Rolf Club 3D Flea & Worm Collar for Dogs
- Best Reflective Flea Collar: Hartz UltraGuard Pro Flea & Tick Collar with Reflect-X Shield