Are Flea Collars Safe for Old Dogs?

If you’ve ever had your dog and home infested with fleas, you know how important prevention is. Flea collars are one type of treatment option, very convenient and long lasting. The question is though, are flea collars safe for our old dogs?

No, flea collars are not the safest option for old dogs. They contain chemicals that are slowly released from the collar onto your dog’s fur and skin. It is those chemicals that kill the fleas and provides continuous protection, but at what price to their health.

Older dogs, particularly those with health issues don’t have the same strong constitution as a healthier and even younger dog. That’s not to say they won’t suffer the consequences of the chemicals as well, they may just be able to process them better, at least for now.

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you buy something I may receive a small commission. This has no effect on the price you pay, but will help me keep this helpful blog going.**

Are flea collars toxic to other animals or humans in the home?

Yes they are.

During my research, I came across some very disturbing findings about the dangers of chemical flea treatments.

One article called “Toxic Chemicals in Flea and Tick Collars” was produced by The Natural Resources Defense Council. The NRDC is an international non-profit environmental organisation.  

Here are quotes I found particularly disturbing, and feel is important to sure.

“High levels of pesticide residue can remain on a dog’s or cat’s fur for weeks after a flea collar is put on an animal. Residue levels produced by some flea collars are so high that they pose a risk of cancer and damage to the neurological system of children up to 1,000 times higher than the EPA’s acceptable levels.”

“We found that residues from two pesticides used in flea collars—tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur, among the most dangerous pesticides still legally on the market—were high enough to pose a risk to both children and adults who play with their pets.”

If flea collars are so bad, what other treatment options are available?

Spot on treatments come in individual doses in a small tube. You simply open it and squeeze between your dog’s shoulders. On a larger dog you can dot it along the back. The area will remain wet until it is absorbed into the body.

I recommend you wear gloves when applying it, so it doesn’t get onto your skin as well.  

Tablets are a less messy option than a spot-on treatment and are given monthly. Some people find giving medication challenging, so tablets may not be an option in those cases.

If you’re having trouble giving your old dog any kind of medication, please read this article “The Best Way to Give Your Dog Medication” for a lot of helpful tips.

Sprays are available both for application directly on your dog’s skin, for your home or garden.

Are these flea treatments safe?

Unless you’re buying a natural option, you will come up against the same issue with chemicals in those products as well.

What is the safest flea treatment for old dogs?

The safest treatment is one that is natural and chemical free, but is the natural option the most effective?

I love the idea of avoiding chemicals when I can, but I love the idea of having a flea free dog and home even more.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the dangers fleas pose, then we’ll list the natural options to consider. I’m only going to list a few to give you an idea of what’s available. A Google search will produce plenty of results to consider.

Are fleas dangerous to old dogs?

I came across some quotes by Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Pennsylvania, in a post on the petmd website about the dangers caused by fleas.  

“Fleas can cause a wide variety of issues for your pets…the most common of which is flea bite dermatitis, which is a specific allergy to flea saliva. It leads to intense itching and scratching for your pet. That constant itching allows the skin to break open and form scabs that can get infected.”

“A second problem caused by fleas is tapeworms. These are parasites that are passed to your pet when they actually ingest the flea. The tapeworm is initially inside the flea, and then grows inside your pet. They are segmented parasites that can be as small as 1/2 inch and look like maggots, but can also be as long as 12 inches.”

Another possible danger is something called flea bite anemia. A severe flea infestation means lots of fleas are feeding and can cause a decrease in red blood cells. This is something that happens typically in puppies or kittens but can also happen in old dogs.

Natural flea collars for dogs

Arava Flea & Ticks Botanical Collar

Rather than being soaked in toxic chemicals, the Arava collar is soaked in 15 essential oils. The active ingredients are: Geranium, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Clove, Thyme, Eastern Red Cedar, Rosemary, Citronella, Soybean And Castor.

Once you cut any extra length off the collar, the website mentions using it to prevent moths in your closet!

Visit their website for more information and to order.

Dr. Mercola Herbal Repellent Collar

According to Dr Mercola this collar is “One of the Safest, Most Convenient Insect Repellent Options for Your Pet.” It’s toxin free, lasts 4 months and is water resistant should your pup want to take a swim!

Other natural flea treatments

Arava line

In addition to the collar mentioned above, they also have other natural flea treatments such as shampoo and conditioner, spray and spot on treatments. The link to their website is above.

Pooch Protect Bug Repellent Spray

This is a water based spray that contains 4 natural oils – lemongrass, cinnamon, sesame and castor. According to the website this is how it works:

“Firstly, it contains ingredients to confuse the sensory receptors of insects. When sprayed onto the coat of a dog, the insects fail to detect their host and move on. Secondly, there are ingredients that literally repel insects, making the host undesirable.”

This product got some great reviews from users, which I find encouraging. To learn more about it and to order, please click on this link

I use a chemical flea collar on my dog

I realise how strange it must sound. I just spent time talking about the dangers, yet here I am using a Seresto flea collar on my dog Jack.

Here’s why.

When we adopted our dog Jack, we also adopted a flea problem. I tried several of the well-known “popular” chemical treatments, and he still had fleas.

I researched some natural options, and while I didn’t try a lot of them (it’s expensive to keep buying products and throwing them out!) I tried a few, including essential oils, and nothing worked.

While I was experimenting my dog was scratching from fleas, I was bitten and it’s a lot of work to clean your house from a flea infestation. I needed something that worked, whatever that was going to be.

My vet recommended the Seresto Collar so I tried it…and it worked! I was so thrilled. A bonus was it was advertised as lasting 8 months. It doesn’t remain effective for that long on Jack, I make a note to change it after 7 months, but it’s been great.

I prefer a less harsh solution but for Jack, and us, this is the best one for him.

If you do decide to try a natural option, please keep an eye out for any scratching or itching. Check your dog’s fur for flea dirt or fleas crawling on him. Trust me, there is never just one. If your dog has them, your house has them too.



    Seresto collars are GREAT for older dogs and dogs with seizures! My White German Shepherd, Luna, is very old and subject to seizures with other flea treatments. The Seresto collar was the ONLY solution ultimately. She is now living out her days happy and flea free.

    There is never a perfect solution, but Seresto was and is a blessing for our family. I have rescued hundreds and hundreds of dogs and cats. I spend a considerable amount of resources trying to get everyone where they need to be. In the end ones that have skin problems rely on NexGard, while others are doing very well on Simparica. I’ve tried countless combinations, and this is what works for us. All these treatments have issues, depending on the pet, just as drugs effect humans…..

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Karla, thanks for sharing your experience and great news about Luna. I know how hard it can be to find something that works, so the fact you found the best ones for your various animals is wonderful. I’d love a natural solution, but I’ve been using Seresto for a few years, and as long as my dog remains flea free I will keep using it.


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