Is a Flea Collar Better Than Topical Medicine?

Two popular options when it comes to dealing with fleas are the use of a flea collar and the application of topical medicine between the pet’s shoulder blades. Because their administration and mode of action are different, they tend to yield different results, too. And now, you may be wondering: is a flea collar better than topical medicine?

In total, a flea collar is better than topical medicine in terms of cost and administration. The product is cheaper than a spot-on alternative. However, for best results and the pet’s safety, choosing a veterinarian-approved flea collar is a must.

Fleas can cause more than just itching, which can lead to hair loss and secondary infections.

A high-level flea infestation can cause severe anemia. If the fleas drink more than one-third of the pet’s blood, the pet could die. Because of this, you should spring into action without delay the moment that you notice the presence of fleas.

Below, you will come across some of the most important matters about flea collars and topical flea medications — read on if you want to save your pet from fleas and the many complications they bring!

How Flea Treatments Work

When choosing a flea treatment for your pet, it’s important that you are aware of how your different options work. This allows you to set a realistic expectation, thus keeping you from ending up frustrated.

Because flea collars and spot-on topical treatments are administered differently, they carry out their flea-fighting tasks in varying ways, too. It’s also because of the fact that they work in different ways why they may provide varying results.

However, one thing stays true: To work, flea collars and spot-on topical treatments should be used correctly.

A flea collar gets rid of fleas on your pet either by:

  • Giving off gas that’s toxic to fleas
  • Releasing chemicals absorbed by the pet’s skin

Some flea collars have one active ingredient, while others have a combination of active ingredients. Similarly, some active ingredients only repel fleas, while others kill them.

When choosing a flea collar, it’s a good idea to go for one whose active ingredients are proven safe for pets and effective against fleas. All flea collar makers claim that their products are safe and effective, too. When choosing, it’s a much better idea to get the opinion of your trusted vet than make a decision based on the maker’s statements.

On the other hand, a spot-on flea treatment work either by:

  • Spreading through the skin and coat
  • Getting into the bloodstream

Some spot-on treatments can deal with fleas even without them drinking your pet’s blood, while others can get rid of fleas only when they bite your pet and consume its blood.

Either way, it’s important to keep in mind that spot-on flea treatments cause their active ingredients to enter the pet’s body.

This is why you should make sure that the topical flea medication that you are about to use on your pet is approved or prescribed by your preferred veterinarian.

Also, it’s a must that you administer it the right way.

Flea Collar: Pros and Cons

flea collar
Image credit: Canva

Before you get your hands on a flea collar, it’s a great idea to know some of the product’s strengths and weaknesses.

While it can help deal with fleas alright, this solution has limitations. It’s of utmost importance that you use one appropriate for your pet, according to its size and the level of flea infestation.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a flea collar:


  • Easy on the pocket. A flea collar’s price tag can read anywhere from $6 to $60. The cost depends on various factors, such as the brand name, formulation and pet for which it’s designed.
  • Trouble-free to put in place. If you have already placed a collar around your pet’s neck before, then you will find it easy to deal with fleas with the help of a flea collar.
  • Long-lasting results. It’s true that a flea collar may not work as quickly as a spot-on flea treatment. However, it can work so much longer than its topical counterpart, usually from five to eight months.


  • Limited results. Because of where a flea collar is placed, it may fail to deal with fleas located very far from the neck area. This is especially true in larger cats and dogs.
  • Skin irritation. It’s possible for your pet to suffer from skin irritation, which can lead to hair loss and open sores, if the flea collar’s chemicals are too strong or irritating for it.
  • Risky if there are kids around. Consider a different flea remedy if small children are around as they may ingest some of the chemicals in the flea collar when they play with the pet.

Topical Flea Medicine: Pros and Cons

Like a flea collar, a spot-on flea treatment has positives and negatives.

It’s a must to get to know the product very well before applying it to your four-legged friend. Some topical flea medicines are prescription types. If your pet has a severe flea infestation, opt for a spot-on flea treatment prescribed by your trusted vet.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a spot-on remedy:


  • Quick-acting. Depending on the brand and formulation, a spot-on flea treatment can provide results in as short as four hours only. On the other hand, a flea collar may take 24 hours to work.
  • More impressive results. Because the active ingredients of topical flea medicine are absorbed by the skin, it can get rid of fleas no matter where they are on the pet’s body.
  • No risk of choking or losing effect. With a spot-on flea treatment, you can save yourself from worrying about your pet choking on a flea collar or losing the flea collar.


  • Expensive. The cost of topical flea medicine can range anywhere from $20 to $80. The more popular the brand and the more effective the formulation, the more expensive the spot-on flea treatment.
  • Short-term effects. While it yields results faster than a flea collar, a spot-on treatment loses effect sooner — usually, it has to be reapplied every month to put an infestation under control.
  • Risky if applied incorrectly. Failure to apply the product to the right place (between the pet’s shoulder blades) may cause excessive salivation, vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea when ingested.

Just Before You Buy a Flea Collar

It’s important to spring into action the minute that you notice the presence of fleas. Otherwise, your pet may suffer from a severe flea infestation in no time, especially since female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day!

Failure to deal with the problem could cause anemia, which can lead to the pet’s death if not addressed properly.

Flea collars and topical flea medicines are two very popular options because their administration does not require a trip to the veterinary clinic. Most of them can also be bought trouble-free online and offline.

The use of a flea collar is ideal for a pet owner who’s on a tight budget and wants to get rid of a mild to a moderate flea infestation. Besides being easier on the pocket, it’s also simpler to administer than a spot-on flea treatment. To see superb results and keep one’s pet out of harm’s way, using nothing but a vet-approved flea collar is a must.

Related Questions

Can I use a flea collar and spot-on flea treatment at the same time?

Many flea collars and spot-on flea treatments can be combined. When applying topical medicine, remove the flea collar. The flea collar may be put back in place once the spot-on flea treatment has dried up. Consult a vet when planning on using two different flea solutions.

Can a flea collar be used even if the pet doesn’t have fleas?

A flea collar can be used as a preventative tool in the fight against fleas. It’s effective for minimizing the risk of reinfestation after professional flea treatment. It is also effective for reducing flea infestation risk in pets that spend time outdoors where they could get fleas.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.

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