With flea and tick season starting up again around the country, you might have noticed talk about the safety of flea and tick collars. Many flea and tick products contain active ingredients with warnings like “harmful if swallowed” and “keep out of reach of children.” 

It can be difficult to decide if flea prevention is worth the risk that is involved with using some products. Below, we answer the most common questions about protecting your pet from fleas and ticks.

Flea and Tick Collars Can Be Dangerous 

Yes, some flea and tick collars can be dangerous. However, the danger depends mostly on the type of insecticide products used, not on the collars themselves. Some brands use carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals to kill fleas and ticks, but those chemicals can be harmful to humans—especially children—and to pets as well. 

Most flea collars work by using a pest control substance that stays on the collar and slowly transfers down onto the pet’s fur. These products either leave a residue or omit a gas that kills the insects on contact. However, a collar that leaves insecticide residue behind can also turn petting and playing with your pet into a dangerous game. 

Tetrachlorvinphos, flumethrin, and imidacloprid are some of the insecticides used in common flea and tick collars. If handled inappropriately, absorbed into the skin, or ingested, then they can cause problems in humans and pets. Common symptoms are lethargy, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, rash, or skin lesions. 

How Can I Find a Flea and Tick Collar That’s Safe?

If you think your pet needs a flea and tick collar, talk to your veterinarian. In some states (like our lovely Arizona) flea and tick prevention is not as necessary as it is in others. Unless you do lots of traveling and deep country hiking with your pet, you might not need a flea and tick collar. Either way, your vet can recommend a safe option that does not use harmful insecticides. 

Ways to Prevent and Treat Fleas and Ticks 

  • Groom your pet often. Regular bathing and brushing can alert you to infestation before it becomes a big problem.
  • Wash all pet bedding in hot water once a week. 
  • If hiking or playing in areas with tall grasses or lots of leaf litter, check your pet for ticks and fleas afterward. Pay close attention to the armpits and folds of the ears.
  • If your pet becomes infested with fleas or ticks, be sure to remove them safely. For fleas, this means a bath (dawn dish soap kills fleas quickly), and washing all fabrics the pet comes in contact with in hot, hot water. For ticks, carefully remove the tick with tweezers (trying to keep the head intact) and put it in a container with isopropyl alcohol to kill it.
  • Keep pets with fleas or ticks quarantined from other pets. 

If you notice an infestation or are worried your pet may have contracted an infection like Lyme disease, contact your veterinarian right away. 

Veterinary Care As Picky As You Are

As pet lovers ourselves, we know what it’s like to worry about the products we buy for our furry best friends. That is why we work hard to ensure we only recommend products and treatments that we think will help your pet live a long and happy life. 

Here at East Valley Animal Hospital, we have the skill it takes to keep your pets healthy, from check-ups to vaccinations and beyond. If you have questions about safe ways to prevent fleas and ticks, contact us today to schedule a wellness exam.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/29/23). Photo by Doğan Alpaslan DEMİR on Unsplash.