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What Is a Flea Collar?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

A flea collar is worn on an animal as a way to kill fleas and ticks, as well as protect the animal from future problems with these pests. There are many different kinds of poisons used on a flea collar, and some of them are known to have greater effectiveness. Many experts have questioned the overall effectiveness of collars as a way to control fleas because there are some basic limitations to the design. When flea collars were first invented, they were generally considered the best method available for controlling pests on pets, and they became very popular. Over the years, some methods of treatment have become more common, and while people still use flea collars, they are not used as often as they once were.

The flea collar was created in the 1960s, and the early designs were built around the use of a gas that killed fleas. The basic idea behind the design was for the gas to affect fleas that hopped anywhere near the animal’s head. Since fleas generally move around a lot, it was thought that most fleas would eventually be poisoned by the gas on the collar. In practice, this doesn’t always work. Many fleas will avoid the collar area, simply infesting the back end of the animal, and while pets may get some relief from fleabites while wearing collars, they are usually not enough to get rid of an infestation. In the early days, people were generally satisfied with the level of relief offered by flea collars since it was often the best available way to deal with the problem.

A flea.
A flea.

There is another kind of flea collar that has generally proven to be more useful. These collars have special chemicals that can absorb into a pet’s skin and enter its bloodstream. The chemical does not harm the pet, but it is poisonous for fleas, and when they bite the animal, they receive a dose. Since the chemical gets inside the animal, these collars can fight fleas all over the pet’s body, which is the main reason they work better than the gas-based collars.

Flea treatments can often kill ticks as well.
Flea treatments can often kill ticks as well.

Additionally, there are also electronic flea collars that some people have tried to use. These rely on ultra-sonic sounds to frighten fleas away. Experts suggest that this type of technology has not been very successful, and there is a lot of skepticism in the pet-care community about the usefulness of ultrasonic sound for any kind of pest control.

Other, more effective, technologies have been created over the years that have helped people deal with fleas. For severe infestations, some people use shampoos and dips, which can kill many fleas at once. There are also chemicals designed to be absorbed into the animal's skin that work similarly to the most effective flea collars, and these can sometimes work for many months without the need for bothering with a collar at all, and sometimes with much more effectiveness.

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Discussion Comments


We found a stray dog when I was a kid. He had seen better days. We took him home and begged to be allowed to keep him. Mom finally agreed to let us keep him, but only if we cleaned him up. He was dirty and smelly and covered with fleas and ticks. She went to the store and bought some dip for the job.

We bathed the dog and covered him with the dip. When he got out of the water, he left behind a tub full of fleas. I have never found any type of flea killing tool that works as well as the dip. Sure getting the dog in the water can be a hassle, but the results are immediate and undeniable.


@Animandel - Flea collars don't sound like they would be any more dangerous than the flea and tick killing drops you get from the vet's office. You put the drops on your dog or cat and they are absorbed into the skin of the animal. These are really popular nowadays.

And collars have to be safer than the pills you buy to prevent flea infestations. Actually, I don't know whether the pills are still sold, but they were popular at one time, too.


It was suggested that I use a flea collar for my dog. Some people swear by them. But the types of collars mentioned in this article don't sound like anything I would choose to expose my animal to. What good is a collar that simply runs the fleas so they bite my dog on the tail instead of on his neck?

I also do not like the sound of a collar that gives off chemicals that are absorbed into my dog's blood stream. If the chemical kills the fleas then it can't be good for the dog either. The chemicals might not kill him, but I bet they are harming his health over the long haul.

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    • A flea.
      By: Carolina K Smith MD
      A flea.
    • Flea treatments can often kill ticks as well.
      By: Carolina K Smith MD
      Flea treatments can often kill ticks as well.
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