Let’s talk flea collars.
Flea collars are used by millions of pet owners as an alternative to (or in addition to) prescription flea and tick prevention medications. But are they as effective?
Most vets definitely recommend treating your pet with a once-monthly flea and tick preventative. These medications come in pill form and as a liquid applicant, and some even offer prevention against worms, too. While there is certainly some veracity to claims that flea collars work, the better question is actually how well they work.
How Do Traditional Flea Collars Work?
Non-Amber flea collars, usually made of composite or rubber material, contain insecticides designed to either repel fleas, treat an existing flea infestation, or do both. Preventative collars put out a gas which repels new fleas from hopping on board your pet. Flea-treating collars actually slowly release medication into your pet’s neck skin which is then absorbed into his body. These medications either kill fleas on contact or after they bite your pet. Some of the most common compounds found in flea collars include Deltamethrin, Pyriproxifen, and Amitraz. Collars made with Tetrachlorvinphos should be avoided as the compound is considered a neurotoxin.
Since the medication contained in traditional flea collars is designed to be long-lasting, it’s usually not as concentrated as a monthly-dose preventative. Collars work better against ticks – they’re already prone to biting around your pet’s face and neck – than they do against fleas, which can grab on anywhere. Most vets agree the best solution is to use a flea collar in conjunction with a prescription monthly preventative medication to ensure full coverage.
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How Do Amber Flea Collars Work?
Amber flea collars are beloved by pet owners who are particularly concerned about chemicals or pesticides; pet owners whose pets are pregnant, elderly, or have serious skin sensitivities swear by the effectiveness of amber collars. But how do they work?
Amber is a petrified resin, which is itself actually byproduct of trees. Amber flea collars are made of stones of amber – they’re milky in color and craggy; polished amber has lost much of its “effectiveness” – strung on a thread and fastened with a leather or cloth buckle.
Proponents of amber collars say it’s the acid content in amber that helps it repel fleas, and Baltic amber (from the Baltic sea) has a particularly high acid content of around 8% making it the most commonly used form. Some suggest it’s actually the static electricity produced as the stones rub up against pets’ fur that repels fleas and ticks. Even more, some say the static electricity actually reduces skin inflammation, too, which is why amber teething necklaces are so popular for human babies. Advocates say that the longer a pet wears an amber collar, the better it works.
So, Do Amber Flea Collars Actually Work?
It depends who you ask! Amber flea collars by themselves do not provide the same full coverage as medicinal flea and tick prevention. When flea medication is actually absorbed into the skin, it’s more likely to protect your pet’s entire body, from nose to tail.
That said, a lot of people love the holistic quality of an amber collar. And they can’t hurt! Flea collars of any kind are a particularly good idea if you plan to take your pet to a location where you know fleas and ticks are present, like the woods. We always recommend you work with your vet on a comprehensive flea and tick prevention regimen that makes sense for your pet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
What do amber collar users have to say? Here are some helpful Amazon reviews of a popular amber collar style:
“I’ve been using amber necklaces for my dog and cat and haven’t had a flea or tick problem in years! This works so great and I love that it’s a natural repellent.” – Jo
“These are pretty beads and look cute but i don’t see any evidence they are actually working to discourage fleas and ticks.” – Caring
What’s the verdict? Buyer beware! Even for highly-effective amber collars, users say there’s extreme variety in the make, quality, and durability of products received. If you’re going to buy an amber collar, choose your size carefully, be sure you’re buying from a reputable seller who only uses pure “Baltic amber,” and be open to your vet’s suggestions for supplemental flea and tick protection.