Flea collars are one of the the most popular options for treating and preventing fleas in both dogs and cats. Typically, flea collars work by either transferring pesticides to your pet’s skin or by giving off a harmful gas that’s toxic to fleas. Unfortunately, the same features that make flea collars effective also make them dangerous to both pets and humans—serious, even life threatening, side-effects have been linked with exposure to the chemicals found in flea collars. The following is a list of reasons why it’s important you stop using flea collars on your pets as soon as possible.
A study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that flea collars, even when used as directed, can have “serious health consequences to humans.” The NRDC found that unsafe levels of pesticides from flea collars can remain on a dog or cat’s fur for weeks after initial use. These pesticide levels exceed acceptable EPA exposure limits, posing a serious risk to both adults and children when playing with pets wearing flea collars.
“It was also discovered that flea collar toxins are readily transferrable, moving easily from a pet to furniture, children’s toys, even directly to humans.”
One of the most common (and dangerous) chemicals found in flea collars is Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), an organophosphate insecticide that works by interrupting a flea’s central nervous system. Unfortunately TCVP—which the EPA lists as a carcinogen—also wreaks havoc on the human central nervous system. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that organophosphates are a central ingredient in several biological weapons, including nerve gas.
Worst of all, children and pregnant women are especially at risk—learning disabilities, motor development, hyperactivity and behavioural issues have all been tied with exposure to flea collar pesticides. Public Health Scientist Miriam Rotkin Ellman—a key scientist in NRDC’s studies—has said,
“with a pesticide it doesn’t take very much to cause effects that will stay with kid[s] for the rest of their lives”
While residual toxins from flea collars can be hazardous to humans, they can be outright lethal for your pets. Ranging from skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress, to organ failure and even death, flea collars have a long history of harmful effects in both cats and dogs. When used as directed, flea collars are still known to cause severe chemical burns and seizures in pets. A quick look at product review sites like Consumer Affairs or outlets like Amazon is enough to get a sense of the suffering flea collars commonly inflict on pet owners.
In cases of ingestion or misuse (placing a dog-specific flea collar on a cat, for instance), flea collars are regularly fatal, with smaller and older pets being especially vulnerable. Flea collars are also notorious for interfering with pet medications—sometimes counteracting them, sometimes rendering them deadly. Even under ideal conditions, flea collars can be fatal to dogs and cats, as sensitivities to chemicals or allergies usually remain unknown in pets until it’s too late.
In contrast to received opinion, flea collars are not exactly highly effective. In most cases, flea collars can be useful at preventing flea infestations (if toxic treatments can be considered useful) but not at treating them. In fact, many flea collars are not even strong enough to kill adult fleas. Even when used properly, flea collars only serve to protect the area on or around your pet’s neck. Considering fleas tend to feed and hide primarily in pets’ armpits, groins, bellies and backsides, it’s not hard to see why flea collars are only so effective at controlling flea infestation.
At Cedarcide, we only advocate for family-safe, non-toxic flea & tick solutions. Thankfully, there are many pet-safe, family-safe options when managing and preventing flea infestation. Here are some of our favorites:
To protect your dog or cat from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, mites and other harmful biting bugs, apply Cedarcide Original directly to their coat daily or before activities that expose them to fleas and ticks, such as dog park visits, walks, or hikes.
Cedarcide Original is also awesome for killing and repelling fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, mites and other unwanted bugs indoors, in all life stages, including eggs.