Best Dog Flea Collars - Comparison and Reviews

Becky - author

Author: Becky Roberts
Last Updated: December 2019​

If you’ve ever had a dog with a flea infestation, you know the value of an effective dog flea collar. Flea collars are the go-to method to control ticks, fleas, and other parasites that can harm your dog. All flea collars work in the same way, but generally they contain different insecticides that lead to some products being more effective than others.

Dog with flea collar

Dog flea collars shunt blame on the toxicity debate, not only with dogs but also to children, and even adults. As a result, a plethora of research has gone into making dog flea collars safer for the environment and more effective. 

So, if you have previously been concerned about resorting to a collar to control parasites, relax. Rest assured, the modern collars are much safer, and you have much fewer reasons to worry.

If you want to protect your pup from fleas and ticks, collars are the way to go. Once you start shopping online, however, you’ll find an impressive selection of similar collars, each promising to be the most powerful thing on the market. You may find yourself overwhelmed by the range of choice available to you, and may eventually end up unable to buy anything at all.

That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive comparison and flea collar reviews, which will help you understand how flea collars work and what our recommendations are for the best flea collars for your pooch.

Best Dog Flea Collars 2019 - Reviews

1. Bayer Seresto

One of the most popular dog flea collars on the market, the Seresto offers complete protection that can last up to eight months. Unlike other flea collars, the Seresto collar contains a combination of only two main active ingredients—Imidacloprid and Flumethrin. This collar can target a wide range of parasites, from fleas and ticks to the pesky mites that cause chronic disease.

The Seresto flea collar is also well-designed. It has a quick-release mechanism to prevent your dog from getting stuck and suffocating while caught on the collar. It is non-greasy and easy to customize for any dog size and shape. It’s also one of the few products that can be used on puppies (from the age of seven weeks), which is ideal for preventing fleas or ticks in your new furry friend.

Most flea collars rely on your dog getting bitten to deliver enough insecticide to kill parasites. The Seresto collar secretes a constant low concentration of active ingredients, which kills most parasites on contact with the animal, instead of when they bite.

This caution is essential if you live in an area with tick-borne diseases that can potentially be fatal to your animal. By killing and repelling parasites before they bite, you can protect your dog from diseases as well as from irritation.

The Seresto is the collar that is most highly recommended by veterinarians to prevent tick and flea infestations. Most users are completely satisfied with the product, though some have also indicated that the collar is fragile and comes apart too quickly.

Some people have also found that the collar is ineffective, though this may be due to a long lead-in time before the collar fully protects the animal.  As with any other product, it’s a good idea to monitor the efficacy of the collar continuously and making sure that it’s not harming you or your dog.

Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs, 8-Month Tick and Flea Control for Dogs Over 18 lbs

Pros

  • Highly recommended by vets and by many satisfied users
  • The collar is odor-free
  • It has a quick-release mechanism that’s essential for active dogs
  • It lasts for a long time, up to eight months
  • It is easy to apply, making it a convenient replacement for other tick and flea products

Cons

  • There is a lead-in time before the collar becomes fully effective
  • The collar isn’t very water-resistant, meaning that its efficacy drops considerably if your dog gets wet often
  • The quick-release mechanism means that the collar is relatively fragile

2. ROLF 3D Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs

The Rolf 3D Flea and Tick Collar is a combination of three potent insecticides: fipronil, D-cyphenothrin, and pyriproxyfen. 

These active ingredients work synergistically to provide adequate protection from all sorts of parasites, including ticks and fleas. The combination of these active ingredients effectively kills the pests as soon as they come in contact with your dog, protecting them from tick-borne diseases that may otherwise prove fatal.

It is also effective at killing larvae, which makes it useful in controlling existing infestations as well as preventing future ones.

The collar comes in three different sizes depending on the size of your dog. Each collar is also adjustable, ensuring a great fit for any dog. It has a safe design that prevents the collar from accidentally falling off when your dog is frolicking in the great outdoors, though this does lead to an increased risk of choking and strangulation.

It’s also odorless and water-resistant, though some users have reported an initial white residue that quickly washed off. The formulation is designed to last for up to six months if used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and it claims to kill ticks and fleas within 24 hours after the start of use.

The main drawback of the Rolf 3D tick and flea collar is the strong, active ingredients that it contains. Some of these ingredients prove highly toxic when ingested, which is why this collar is discouraged for puppies under the age of 12 weeks. Some dogs may also develop adverse reactions to the collar. Make sure that you keep an eye out for any rashes, or signs of irritation under the collar, for the first week of use.

Rolf Club 3D FLEA Collar for Dogs – Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs – Dog Flea and Tick Control for 6 Months – Safe Tick Repellent – Waterproof Tick Treatment

Pros

  • Quick lead-in time, starts killing ticks and fleas within 24 hours of use
  • Adjustable length and three different sizes mean you’ll get the perfect fit
  • Highly effective in controlling a wide range of parasites including ticks, fleas, and mosquitos

Cons

  • Slightly shorter protection time than other collars, six months as opposed to eight months
  • Due to the potency of the active ingredients, the collar isn’t recommended for puppies
  • Some dogs may develop an adverse allergic reaction

3. Arava Flea & Tick Prevention Collar

The Arava flea and tick prevention collar is another product that contains only essential oils as active ingredients. The botanical-essential oils include lemongrass, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, eucalyptus, and peppermint, many of which are effective at repelling ticks and fleas. And as a bonus, the collar smells great too.

A team of veterinarians and human dermatologists designed the Arava flea and tick collar to ensure that their product is effective, pH balanced, and easy on your dog’s skin. The essential oils are directly infused into the collar using patented micro-injection technology, ensuring that they are released slowly and evenly over time. This feature allows the collar to remain active for up to five months and ensures that the essential oils are distributed evenly over your dog’s coat.

Thanks to the natural ingredients, the collar is non-toxic to humans. Parents can rest easy knowing that your children can be best buddies with your pooch with no adverse consequences down the line.

As with many collars, it’s water-resistant and adjustable for dogs of any size. The collars are sold in three sizes: small, medium, and large. These size options are then adjustable to your dog’s particular shape. Some people find the smell of the collar initially overwhelming, thanks to the infusion of eleven natural botanical oils. If you find that’s the case, leave the collar exposed to air for a day or so, which should reduce the smell before using.

Arava is very confident in their product, which is why they also offer a 30-day guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the results. As the flea and tick collar contains no synthetic insecticides, it’s safe to use for both puppies and adult dogs. It’s safe to use it in a household with other animals, for example, as essential oils are safe for cats, dogs, and any other pets in your home.

As with most botanicals-based collars, the main drawback of the collar is that it won’t be as effective as synthetic-based collars. If your pooch spends most of their time indoors or in areas with low flea and tick populations, this collar will work great. However, if you have a more active outdoors dog, you may find the results underwhelming.

Arava Flea & Tick Prevention Collar - for Dogs & Puppies - Length-25'' - 11 Natural Active Ingredients - Safe for Babies & Pets - Safely Repels Pests - Enhanced Control & Defense - 6 Months Protection

Pros

  • The product has a 30-day manufacturer’s guarantee, so you don’t lose anything by trying it out
  • Adjustable size means you’ll get a perfect fit every time
  • Only uses botanical-essential oils, so should be safer than synthetic-based collars
  • Micro-injection technology ensures an even and steady supply of essential oils to the dog’s coat

Cons

  • Has a short lifespan of five months or less
  • Has a strong odor that not everybody will appreciate
  • May be ineffective for larger or more active dogs

4. Merck Scalibor Protector Band

The Merck Scalibor flea collar contains only one active compound: deltamethrin. This compound is a powerful insecticide, making this collar highly effective at controlling fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

The Scalibor flea collar has been on the market for several years and has established a reputation as a highly effective and long-lasting collar. Many veterinarians recommend it for preventing tick and flea bites

The collar comes in only one size, and you then get to cut it to the perfect length for your dog. It is water-resistant and completely odor-free, making it a great collar to use on indoor and outdoor pets. It’s one of the few collars that doesn’t decrease drastically in lifespan if the collar gets wet often, so it’s an ideal collar for water-loving pooches. The stated lifespan of the Scalibor is up to six months of protection, though it does take around three weeks for the collar to reach maximum effectiveness.

The main negative point about the Scalibor collar is that it is currently one of the strongest over-the-counter flea collars available. This potency means that it’s entirely unsuitable for puppies, and even the manufacturer recommends consulting with your vet before using the collar on sick, pregnant or senior dogs. Dogs with sensitive skin will sometimes also develop rashes and irritation at the site of the collar, occasionally over the rest of their bodies, too.

The collar is so potent that many users notice a decrease in the tick and flea populations in their house and yard, not only on their dog. It’s also one of the most expensive flea collars on the market. Perhaps, rethink whether you need such a robust collar before investing so much in it.

Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs - 6 Month Protection

Pros

  • Incredibly potent and effective tick and flea collar
  • Water-resistant and easy to use

Cons

  • May be toxic to some dogs
  • Expensive
  • Takes three weeks to reach maximum effectiveness

5. DYEOF Dog Flea Collar

Unfortunately, this product is no longer available!

If you want a collar that doesn’t contain any synthetic pesticides, the DYEOF flea collar may be your best bet. It contains a mix of six active ingredients, which have insect-repellent properties. The potent combination includes cinnamon oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, lemon eucalyptus, Linaloe and polyethylene.

The manufacturers claim that the collar is suitable for dogs with sensitive skin as it’s hypoallergenic thanks to the natural ingredients. As with many other flea collars, it’s expected to last for eight months, though this lifespan will change if you have a dog that gets wet a lot.

The collar works by not only killing ticks and fleas but also killing their larvae as well. Not only is it effective against ticks and fleas, but it also works as a mosquito repellent thanks to the presence of the essential oils in the collar. There are no strong insecticides found in the collar, however, so this may not be a suitable solution for outdoors dogs that are active and exposed daily to parasites.

The collar is designed to be used on any size dog and is adjustable and easy to fit. It has a non-greasy formulation that’s odorless and water-resistant, which makes this collar a pleasure to use. Thanks to natural ingredients, there is a much smaller chance the collar will cause an adverse reaction to either you or your dog. Despite this, it’s a good idea always to test new products on your dog, as dogs can develop allergies to almost anything, just like humans.

Pros

  • Eight-month lifespan with a warranty and guarantee
  • Kills a whole range of parasites, including mosquitos, fleas, and ticks
  • Contains only natural plant extracts, making it hypoallergenic and eco-friendly

Cons

  • May be less effective than collars with synthetic pesticides
  • No quick-release mechanism makes it unsuitable for dogs that run freely or are outside a lot

Choosing a Dog Flea Collar: How They Work

Tick and flea collars all contain some form of insecticide that’s been proven to be safe for use in mammals and humans. The insecticide is embedded in the plastic collar as either a gas or a liquid. The gas will kill fleas as they bite into the skin, while the liquid is absorbed into the dog’s skin and then kills fleas or ticks when they pierce the skin. In general, liquid-based insecticide collars work better than gas-based ones, as they spread into a larger area, making them more effective overall.

Modern collars tend to use liquid active ingredients (we’ve added the active ingredients to each product review above). The best dog flea collar is designed to continuously secrete liquid insecticide which is then absorbed by the natural oils found in the dog’s coat. These oils then spread throughout the coat, offering a much higher level of protection, from tip to toe. How well-distributed the liquid is, and how effective the collar is, will depend on several factors, including:

  • how close to the skin it sits,
  • the age of the collar, and
  • how often the dog gets wet.

The design of modern collars has also improved considerably. Modern flea and tick collars will usually contain some sort of anti-oxidant that will protect the collar and insecticide from degradation. Most collars are water-resistant and have special mechanisms that prevent your dog from choking or being strangled by the collar. Plus you can use our recommended best dog leash with the flea collar. These precautions, combined with modern insecticides that have passed toxicity screens, means that flea collars are safer to use than ever before.

Dog with flea collar

Flea collars for dogs are designed to work continuously over three to twelve months, depending on the type of insecticide in the collar. While some collars can help treat existing infestations, most collars should be used as a preventative measure. If your dog already has fleas, there are alternative methods to treat the infestation, such as dog flea shampoos or oral medications. Once the infestation has cleared up, you can use a flea collar to prevent new outbreaks from occurring.

Active ingredients in flea and tick collars for dogs

The active ingredients are what determine how safe and effective the collar is. For instance, one of the most popular insecticides in collars used to be Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), a potent neurotoxin that was an incredibly effective poison.  Unfortunately, it proved to also be highly toxic to mammals, causing brain and neurological defects in dogs and humans. It has also been linked to several cancers and was listed by the EPA as a carcinogen in 2016. Symptoms of TCVP exposure included blurred vision, convulsions, pulmonary edema, and nausea.

Luckily, since then there has been a lot of research into safer alternatives that will still be effective against ticks and fleas, but safer for both pets and humans.  The most popular of these currently include Deltamethrin, Imidacloprid, and Flumethrin.

  • Deltamethrin: deltamethrin is a neurotoxin that has been shown to be effective in the control of mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. It’s considered safe for use around humans, but as with any insecticide, it can still produce neurotoxic effects in high enough doses. However, at the doses found in collars, it is considered one of the safest insecticides currently on the market.
  • Flumethrin: unlike Deltamethrin, Flumethrin is mainly used in veterinary medicine to protect animals from parasites such as ticks and fleas. Flumethrin is one of the more common insecticides used in flea collars due to its low toxicity and high efficacy.
  • Imidacloprid: this insecticide works on the nervous system of insects, paralyzing, and ultimately killing them. Since Imidacloprid works on neurological receptors that are found only in insects, it’s much more toxic to insects than to mammals, which makes it one of the most widely used insecticides in the world. It’s used in a huge array of industries, from farming to forestry and of course, in flea collars. It’s moderately toxic to mammals when ingested orally, but has low toxicity when used on the skin.

There are other active ingredients that can be found in some collars, such as amitraz and propoxur, but several concerns have been raised about their toxicity and safety. If you do use a collar with one of these ingredients, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet.

With the rise of the natural movement, many alternative flea collars have come on the market. These will contain essential oils such as peppermint or cedarwood, instead of synthetic insecticides. The EPA lists these oils as compounds that pose little or no risk to humans, making them the safest option around.

They are less effective as an insecticide than synthetic compounds. It’s up to you to decide whether you want an effective but slightly toxic product or one that is less effective but safer to use. 

Resistance

There is a continuous arms race between insects and insecticides. As insects are exposed to an insecticide, they will start to develop resistance. The insects that survive contact will pass that resistance on to their offspring, meaning the new generation will be even more resistant than the last.

To combat this, flea collar companies keep inventing new insecticides that will work on these resistant populations. What this means is that the longer you use the same type of flea collar with the same active ingredients, the less effective it will become. You’ll notice that your dog will start getting fleas and ticks, despite wearing a collar.

That’s why it’s a good idea to cycle between various collars. By exposing ticks and fleas to new insecticides continuously, you can ensure that they don’t develop resistance to any single insecticide. This will ensure that your collars will remain effective over long periods of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are flea collars safe for dogs?

Yes, flea collars have been specifically tested for safety for both dogs and humans. If used as directed, these collars are safe to use. Much of the toxicity of the collar comes from the type of insecticide used, so make sure to read the packaging that comes with the collar.

Some collars aren’t suitable for pregnant or sick dogs, and others should not be used on puppies. When in doubt, consult your vet and read the labels carefully.

Are dog flea collars safe for cats?

In general, no. Cats and dogs have very different physiologies, so what is safe for one may not be safe for the other. Some insecticides, such as permethrin, have been shown to be safe for use in dogs and for humans, but are lethal to cats.

Cat flea collars are specifically designed with cats in mind. They will contain insecticides that are safe for cats and will usually have more robust safety mechanisms in place.

If you have both a dog and a cat in your home, it’s worthwhile to stay away from dog-only flea collars. Any exposure to the insecticide can be harmful to your cat, even if it isn’t wearing the collar itself. If your dog and cat play together, your cat will be exposed to potentially lethal chemicals.

It’s a better idea to use collars that are formulated for both cats and dogs. If you’re ever uncertain about the safety of your collar, speak to your vet or expert to get proper medical advice.

Can I use a dog flea collar on a puppy?

Using a flea collar on a puppy is usually not recommended. Puppies are much more sensitive to irritants and toxic products than adult dogs, and the amount of insecticide in a dog collar may be harmful to your new pup. In general, vets recommend avoiding using any type of flea or tick treatment on a puppy before it is eight weeks old.

If your puppy has a tick or flea infestation, it’s best not to try to treat it yourself and see an expert instead. They’ll be able to advise you on safe ways to combat the infestation and will make recommendations to protect your puppy from further harm as well.

How often should I change the collar?

Different collars have different lifespans, and these can also be influenced by various external factors. In general, collars will last anything between three and twelve months before they need to be replaced. Usually, collars will come with instructions for use, and this will also give you a recommended replacement date.

If your dog is very active, that may affect the lifespan of the flea collar. If your dog gets wet a lot, you may have to replace your collar much sooner than expected. Collars that get damaged, either through rough play or chewing also need to be replaced. If you are using another type of flea and tick medication, make sure to remove the collar in order to limit chemical exposure for your dog.

A good indicator of when to replace a collar is when it stops working and if it isn’t visibly damaged. If you start noticing a few stray fleas or ticks on your dog, it’s a good sign that the collar has reached the end of its lifetime and need replacing.

If you’ve reached the end date given by the manufacturer, however, and the collar still appears to be working, you should avoid the temptation to push it past the end date. Rather replace the collar according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that your pet is parasite-free.

When should I use a tick and flea collar?

There are many different ways to control ticks and fleas in dogs, including drops, shampoos, and flea collars. The type of prevention you use will usually depend on where you live, and the type of dog you have.

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll find that fleas aren’t usually a problem. That means that during the winter months, you may not need to bother with any type of flea prevention at all, and only focus on protection during the summer months.

Fleas love hot summers and can lay up to fifty eggs per day. This means that if you see one or two fleas on your dog, there’s up to a hundred that you are missing. Fleas tend to reproduce when it’s hot, so if you live in an area that is temperate all year round, it’s worthwhile to invest in continuous flea prevention.

While many of us focus on fleas when it comes to parasites on our pets, ticks actually pose much more of a danger. There are many tick-borne diseases that can be fatal to your pet, and ticks are present all year-round. If you live in an area with ticks, or you walk in places where ticks live, you want to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to protect your dog.

The main reason why you’d use a tick and flea collar as opposed to drops or edibles is that it’s cheap, effective, and easy to use. Once you’ve fitted the collar, you can forget about ticks and fleas for up to eight months, and it will only set you back under $100 for that period.

When should I not use a tick and flea collar?

Some tick and flea collars contain very potent insecticides, which are then spread over your dog’s skin. These insecticides can be toxic and even harmful to your pet, especially if they’re old, sick, or pregnant. Many flea collars are also not recommended for use in puppies, or with dogs that have sensitive skin.

That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss tick and flea prevention with your vet. Not only do they know your dog, but they’ll also be able to recommend alternatives and find a solution that works for both you and your pet.

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