Flea and tick collars contain insecticides that can be toxic to pets and humans in the household. If you see signs of negative side effects from a tick collar, remove it from your pet immediately and contact your veterinarian.
After you put the tick collar on your pet, monitor the skin under his collar for redness or irritation. Some animals are sensitive to pesticides or may be allergic to certain chemicals.
If you see a reaction, remove the collar immediately and wash your pet with a mild soap. Rinse him with plenty of water. Do not replace the collar. If irritation continues, contact your veterinarian.
Pesticide Poisoning Symptoms
Several chemicals are used in tick collars to kill and repel fleas and ticks.
Some of these include:
If too much of the chemicals are absorbed through the skin or if the dog has a sensitivity to the product, it may poison your pet. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, staggering, disorientation, lethargy, depression or hypothermia. Other symptoms may include excessive salivation, tremors and dilated pupils. In extreme cases, dogs may enter a coma or die.
If you see any adverse reaction after applying a tick collar, remove the collar immediately and contact your vet.
Tick Collar Ingestion Dangers
If your dog ingests part or all of a tick collar, contact a veterinarian immediately for emergency care. The primary sign of intoxication from ingesting a tick collar is severe depression. Potential treatment options include laxatives, enemas, activated charcoal and inducing vomiting.
Do not use tick collars if you have multiple dogs who roughhouse with each other. They may chew or swallow their friend's tick collar and suffer toxic effects.
Pesticides may interact with other medications your pet may be taking. Tick collars containing tetrachlorvinphos or propoxur should not be used if your dog is taking any cholinesterase-inhibiting medications. Collars with amitraz must not be used if your dog is taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or pressor agents, tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Read the fine print on the tick collar for specific medications that may interact with its active ingredients.
Dangers to Humans
The chemicals in tick collars can be harmful to humans, especially children. These products can cause skin and eye irritation from contact with the collar. If a family member or child experiences a reaction from touching or ingesting the collar, contact poison control or your doctor immediately.
People exposed to organophosphate insecticides, such as tetrachlorvinphos, may experience vision problems, memory deficiencies and slowed thinking abilities. Children are at the most risk for long-term problems from pesticide toxicity because their nervous system is still developing.
Using Tick Collars Safely
Each tick collar uses different chemicals and is effective for various lengths of time. Read the label completely before using the collar on your pet. Follow instructions exactly.
Always use the correct tick collar for your pet. Do not use a large dog tick collar on a small dog. The collar should easily rotate around your dog's neck, but should not be loose enough that your dog can get it in his mouth. Check the collar regularly to ensure the collar doesn't loosen or become too tight on growing animals.
Most tick collars should not be used on puppies or kittens under 12 weeks of age. Some collars, such as the Hartz UltraGuard Plus may be used on pets as young as 6 weeks old.
Do not use tick collars on dogs who are pregnant or nursing.
Do not use a dog tick collar on a cat or vice versa.
Leave up to 2 inches of the collar on the outside of the buckle and cut off the excess length. Note how long the collar is effective and replace it as instructed to ensure continued protection against fleas and ticks. For example, the Vet-Kem Breakaway Plus collar for cats should be replaced every eight months. The Adams Plus flea and tick collar for dogs should be replaced every five months.
Tick Collar Alternatives
A tick collar is not suitable for every pet. Consider using a monthly topical treatment for fleas and ticks, such as Frontline or Advantage. Shampoos and sprays are also available for flea and tick control, although these may need to be applied more often. Consider using a natural tick spray, such as Vet's Best Natural Flea & Tick Spray and Shampoo to avoid chemicals.
Check your pet for ticks after he has been outside and remove them promptly with tweezers or a tick remover tool. Prevent ticks in your yard by keeping grasses trimmed, cleaning up leaf litter and removing brush piles. Consider spraying your yard with chemicals such as carbaryl or permethrin to reduce the tick population.