Flea collars are popular devices that protect pets from flea and tick infestation. Flea collars are designed to be worn on your dog’s neck and continually deliver enough pesticides to kill fleas for up to 8 months. They are also designed to be pet-specific, as flea collars for dogs are different from those worn by cats. Many dog owners have complained about flea collars adversely affecting their dogs. So, perhaps you’d like to know; are flea collars bad for dogs? That depends on many factors, as some dog owners have reported satisfaction with flea collar use, while many claim it has negatively impacted their pooch’s health. 

What Makes Flea Collars Bad for Dogs? 

Flea collars are made with different active ingredients, all with the same goal of inhibiting the development of fleas and ticks on your dog’s fur. Depending on the brand, a flea collar’s active ingredient may be; amitraz, organophosphates, carbamates, or pyrethrin/pyrethroids. These compounds can act as pesticides to hinder flea infestations, but they can also be toxic if a dog ingests the collar’s contents or if you apply them inappropriately. Ingestion can easily occur if your dog licks its fur, as these ingredients are designed to last a long time on pet skin. It could also happen if your dog gets access to its collar and holds it in its mouth. Clinical signs may occur in the cardiac, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. For some dogs, ingestion is not needed to cause harmful exposure, and long-term topical exposure is enough to cause skin irritation and uncomfortable itching. 

Clinical Signs of Flea Collar Toxicity 

Flea collar toxicity can negatively affect the cardiac, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Symptoms from flea collar toxicity include: 

  • Lethargy  
  • Staggered walking  
  • Dilated pupils  
  • Seizures  
  • Coma  
  • Drooling  
  • Vomiting  
  • Diarrhea  
  • Bloating  
  • Slowed heart rate  
  • Low or high blood pressure 

Treatment of Flea Collar Toxicity 

If you suspect your dog may be topically sensitive to its flea collar, we advise you to take it off immediately and call your vet and Pet Poison Helpline® for medical advice. However, your dog ingesting collar pesticides would require more therapeutic support. If it has not been too long since your pet ingested the pesticide, your vet may induce vomiting to eliminate chemicals in the intestinal tract depending on the chemicals in the collar. Your veterinarian will likely administer activated charcoal to your dog to bind chemical toxins and intravenous fluids to dilute pesticide concentration in the blood. Should you have any reason to think your dog may be affected by its flea collar, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible or call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661.